I didn’t have COVID-19, but I almost died because of it

By Emily Park

Around Thanksgiving, I found myself sure that the COVID test I had just taken was going to come back positive—an assumption that came very close to ending my life at 23 years old. Because of the pandemic, I waited far too long to seek medical attention and experienced delays in my care due to the hospital being overwhelmed by the virus.

I had all of the major symptoms the CDC had been drilling into our heads for the last nine months: shortness of breath, a cough, body aches, an elevated temperature, severe exhaustion, an increased heart rate—the works. But it also turns out that all of the above are also symptoms of a pulmonary embolism (aka blood clots in the lungs), which is the third most common cause of cardiac death.

After a few days of symptoms, I had a virtual visit with my doctor who strongly predicted the COVID test she ordered would come back positive. I was only 23, had no history of clots, and COVID was rapidly spreading through the community. There wasn’t much reason to assume it was anything besides the virus.

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