February 21st started as an ordinary day for Marion Garrett of Snowmass Village. She woke up and went to Snowmass Chapel where she works as a ministry coordinator. She felt a little lightheaded and had some soreness near her ribs but chalked it up to overdoing it at yoga the day before.
“I work with Julie Ressler who is married to Dave Ressler, Aspen Valley Hospital CEO,” Marion said. “We were in our staff meeting when Julie asked if I was okay. Just by looking at my face, she could tell something was wrong.”
Marion told Julie she was fine…she was sure it was nothing. Julie encouraged her to go to the emergency room, but Marion declined.
“I just happened to have a bone density test scheduled for that day,” Marion said. “Julie insisted I see my physician while I was there. Fortunately, Dr. Caroline Mears immediately fit me into her schedule.”
A Close Call
“Marion told me that she thought she’d pulled a muscle,” said Dr. Mears, DO, Internist. “She said she just felt ‘a little off’ but her vital signs were irregular. I ordered some lab work to rule out anything serious.”
Marion went home and received a phone call later that evening. It was Dr. Mears.
“She told me I needed to get to the hospital because there was a chance I had a blood clot,” Marion said. “I was absolutely shocked.”
Marion was suffering from a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of an artery in the lungs. She was admitted to the hospital and put under the care of hospitalist Matthew Dunn, MD.
“They monitored my condition and ran more tests,” Marion said. “I was given a blood thinner and discharged after one night. But I needed to be on continuous oxygen.”
“I could have died if I had waited even one more day to seek treatment.”
Trust Your Instincts
Thankfully, Marion is on her way to a full recovery. And she’s looking forward to getting back to the yoga studio.
“Dr. Dunn was incredible,” Marion said. “And I couldn’t be more pleased with Dr. Mears. She could have easily dismissed my symptoms as nothing serious, but she went the extra mile. My condition was so dangerous that I could have died if I had waited even one more day to seek treatment.”
Marion’s case has a worthy lesson. If something doesn’t feel right, you should follow your instincts and seek treatment.
“It’s never silly or unreasonable to get professional medical advice,” Dr. Mears said. “And listen to your family and friends when they’re concerned. I’m so glad Julie Ressler nudged Marion to make the appointment. It may have saved her life.”
KNOW THE SIGNS
Common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
- Irregular heartbeat
- Palpitations (heart racing)
- Coughing and/or coughing up blood
- Low blood pressure
This condition can be life-threatening. Seek urgent medical attention if you experience these symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting.
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