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Rick Fedell: Pulmonary Embolism

Rick Fedell

The Challenge: Multiple Blood Clots

During a visit with his primary care doctor of nearly 20 years, Rick Fedell mentioned he’d been feeling fatigued and short of breath lately. He brushed it off as aging catching up with him, but his doctor ordered an extra blood test to be sure.

“As soon as the bloodwork results came back, I got an urgent call to get to UPMC Passavant for a CT scan, which led to me being taken by wheelchair to the ER,” Rick says. “At first I was acting like, ‘What’s the big deal? Can’t this wait until next week?’ In hindsight, I can’t believe I was trying to put off the scan that saved my life. Once I was admitted to the hospital, it finally sank in how serious this was.”

Rick had blood clots in his arteries and clots in his lungs, known as pulmonary embolisms or PEs. PEs are common, affecting 1 in 1,000 people in the U.S. every year. Untreated, they can permanently damage the lung or other organs and even be fatal. Prompt diagnosis and treatment, however, greatly increases survival.

“It was also hard to tell my kids what was going on,” he recalls. “They come to me with everything. I wanted them to know that I was getting the best care and I’d be fine. I told them I’d get well and be around to see them get married and have their own kids.”

The Solution: Prompt Diagnosis and Treatment

Fortunately, Rick’s primary care doctor, Hubert Shick, MD, recognized the potentially serious nature of Rick’s fatigue and shortness of breath when Rick didn’t. The CT scan made it possible to diagnose the numerous blood clots in his arteries and lungs before they could cause permanent damage.

Once Rick was admitted to the hospital, he was immediately started on blood thinners to stop the clots from worsening. Rick knew he was in the right place because everyone who cared for him told him exactly what was going to happen. Dr. Shick followed his care and stayed in communication with Rick and his care team.

“The doctors and nurses explained everything to me,” says Rick. “Everybody was great and that gave me confidence in the process.”

Released from the hospital the following day, Rick continued to heal and regain his strength.

The Results: Living Life to the Fullest Again

“I was still pretty fatigued for the first couple weeks after I came home,” Rick recalls. “But I’ve felt like a million bucks ever since. The clots are gone, and I take blood thinners to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Being back to normal for Rick means enjoying all the things he loves most. That means spending time with his kids, running with his beloved dog, Laila, working out in the gym, and returning to his weightlifting regimen.

“During a follow-up, Dr. Shick told me that if it wasn’t for my active lifestyle and regular exercise, I could have died from this,” says Rick. “It’s really been a wakeup call. I’m so glad the nurses made me follow through and get that CT scan when they did. I know I’m lucky my doctor caught this in time.”

Rick’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

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