pulmonary embolism while driving

Birth Control Induced Pulmonary Embolism While Driving

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I am a 37 year old woman who has been taking birth control since I was 15 years old and I had a pulmonary embolism (PE) while driving last year. I was on Aviane for over 6 years and then switched to Camrese on 9/19/18 and was taking that up until the PE on 12/13/2018. Before going Aviane, I was on many other generic forms of estrogen type birth control since I was 15 years old. My main reason for taking birth control was to control my cycle. Preventing pregnancy came later on in my adult life.

On December 13th, 2018, I was traveling home from a Tribal Belly Dance Retreat in Hawaii. I was in the best shape of my life and was really enjoying my life to the fullest. While driving from the Phoenix Airport to Flagstaff Arizona, I started to feel tired. I felt like I was going to pass out. The anxiety of that feeling was intense. Within an hour after I started driving, I lost consciousness on Interstate 17 going northbound and then I came to, going 75mph. I lost control of my car and flipped 4 times, continuing to gain and lose consciousness, until the car stopped. I had no idea I was having a pulmonary embolism, until I reached the hospital and they saw something odd in my MRI.

During the crash, I was terrified. I really thought I had gone to hell. After the car stopped rolling, I was alone and could not figure out how to get out of the car. I passed out in fear and then woke up outside of my car, wandering around. At some point, I picked up four tarot cards from the mess of the paperwork and luggage that was thrown from the trunk of my car. I was completely alone in the middle of highway. Luckily my car rolled into a patch of rocks and grass, instead of the area I had just passed, which would have left me in a ditch of one of the multiple cliffs along Interstate 17.

The next thing I know, a truck driver came from out of nowhere and called 911 to get me help. I have not been able to get in touch with that truck driver who saved my life or the ambulance EMT that rode from Sedona to Flagstaff with me and kept my spirits up during the most confusing and scary time of my life. I would really like to thank them for their kindness.

At the hospital, they identified the pulmonary embolism through an MRI. I was shocked and freaked out, to say the least. That night at the hospital, I went into convulsions and had a mini-seizure, which lasted about half a minute. After four days, they released me from the hospital. It was noted that I would be on blood thinners for 6 months. I was not able to return to work until January 21st and only then with a limited work schedule of only 4 hours a day. I just recently returned to work on a normal schedule on February 12th.

This has event has left me with a totaled car, monstrous hospital bills and limited funds to pay for it all due to how long I was out of work. I am also at a loss for words that the mental stress it has caused. I will never be the same but I am thankful that I am alive.

Prior to the pulmonary embolism, I was a casual social smoker, smoking only 1-2 cigarettes every 2 weeks. I have since stopped completely. I was generally healthy but had one issue that my naturopath said was related to the birth control. I developed chronic salivary gland stones and had about 5 of them removed in 2014. My body has produced them since 2005 and all of the doctors I have seen, have never been able to tell me why, except my naturopath, Dr. Brandi Gowey. She said at one point that she thought they were a result of the birth control I was taking and had recommended that I come off the birth control. I obviously did not take that advice. I wish I had.

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Photo by Egor Ivlev on Unsplash.


  1. Thank you, for your comment Nancy. This is true, but I trusted my gynecologist when she recommended I keep taking the pill. I did not hide my age or lifestyle.

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