My name is Benita Percival, I am 26 years old and I am a scientist at De Montfort University, Leicester. After submitting my PhD thesis, I was ready to undertake my viva voce on the 18th March 2020. I am a netball player and play with two awesome teams, Blaby Netball Club and Turner’s Tornadoes. Never for a second, did I think for I would have any medical problems having been active and healthy all my life.
Never for a second, did I think for I would have any medical problems
A week prior to my exam at netball training on Monday 9th March 2020, I noticed I had a shortness of breath and a cough when I was exercising, but only for the first minute or so. I continued to play for the remaining two hours of training. Tuesday 10th March 2020, I experienced a similar cough in the initial few minutes of exercise at the gym and thought maybe I had contracted COVID-19. I decided to spend Wednesday at home. By Thursday, I still was not feeling myself, I could not really put my finger on why and I called my GP. I was asked lots of questions because of the COVID-19 pandemic but I got the opportunity to see a GP, as lockdown was not in place yet. My GP said he would like to rule out a pulmonary embolism and said I needed to go to hospital. I was in denial and I thought this was a bit extreme, but I went to hospital regardless for the tests at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.
My GP said he would like to rule out a pulmonary embolism
My initial chest x-ray, echo on my heart and vitals all came back normal and it was only my blood tests remaining. At this point, I really thought I was ready to go home, and this had all been a false alarm. But unfortunately, my blood tests returned with elevated d-dimers and I was sent for a CT scan. The CT scan revealed major pulmonary embolisms in both lungs, and I had to stay in hospital for a few days. My case was an unprovoked pulmonary embolism meaning that there was no underlying cause. I had no risk factors, I am not overweight and I do not smoke.
I had started the oral combined contraceptive pill and this may have been the cause
I had started the oral combined contraceptive pill and this may have been the cause. My consultant, who was amazing, Professor Jonathon Bennett, explained that because of my physiological condition was the reason why I did not feel unwell. Professor Jonathon Bennet completely made me feel at ease and reassured me. I could not fault the care I received at Glenfield Hospital and I am very grateful to the nurses and doctors at the clinical decisions unit.
At first and even now, I am still a bit in disbelief but the coughing has subsided and I feel a lot better.
A few days after being discharged, I completed my PhD exam with minor corrections via a virtual examination process due to the pandemic. I would like to thank De Montfort University for accommodating this exam in extremely unusual circumstances.
I am slowly building up to be back to full fitness