Although 45-year-old Tresa is making a rapid recovery - she got out of the hospital just last month - Yasmin has taken its toll on her lifestyle and, of course, her career. And all because Bayer advertised Yasmin as a treatment for acne, that it was good for your bones, yada yada. It did help Tresa’s complexion, but at the same time, it almost killed her.
“I started taking Yasmin about five years ago and my doctor monitored me every year,” says Tresa. “I am fit and healthy and I don’t smoke or drink so he didn’t see any harm in me taking it.
“One day when I was teaching a fitness class. I thought I pulled a calf muscle but I just worked through it, took a few Ibuprofen and the pain subsided. A few weeks later I thought I pulled my inner thigh muscle. Again, I chalked it up to overdoing it.
“Shortly after that incident, I woke in the middle of the night and couldn’t breathe. I had severe pain in my chest, shoulder and back. My husband Mickey wanted to take me to ER. He had just had surgery so I took one of his Tylenol 3 painkillers instead and I slept the rest of the night sitting up. I hate going to ER.” In hindsight, Tresa should have listened to Mickey.
The next morning she saw her doctor and he diagnosed pleurisy. It didn’t occur to Tresa to mention the muscle issues because she pulls muscles all the time - it just goes with the job. If she was sedentary with leg pains, it probably would have been brought up. Instead, Tresa’s doctor gave her an antibiotic injection and anti-inflammatory pain killer and sent her home.
She was back in his office less than 24 hours later with more breathing problems. This time they ran gallbladder tests and x-rays and the radiologist report indicated pneumonia. She was prescribed Zithromax Z-Pak and, again, simply sent home. It was the weekend. Tresa was hurting but she didn’t have a fever and she wasn’t coughing, so how could she have pneumonia? “My cousin is a physician so I called her,” says Tresa. And that call likely saved her life.
“Right away she asked me if I was still on Yasmin,” Tresa explains. (Interestingly, the hospital doctors didn’t ask if Tresa was taking drospirenone birth control pills but Yasmin had been recorded on her medical chart.) “Then she asked if I had any other problems, like muscle spasms or pulled muscles in my legs. Affirmative. She asked if they were in the same leg. Yep.
“Next up, my cousin told me to go online and look up pulmonary embolism. She was talking to me the entire time and asked if they were my symptoms. ‘Take a few aspirin and tell Mickey to take you to ER right now,’ she said. Mickey was in the next room - it was Super Bowl Sunday - and it took one second to get him off the couch.
“It was a nightmare when we got to the hospital. My cousin told me to get a CT Scan with dye to check for blood clots. She explained that the dye would show the clot and the CT Scan would show muscles. But they didn’t run the dye test, and to this day, I don’t know why. The CT Scan showed fluid on my lung but no clot.”
Tresa was admitted, and the next day she had another CT Scan and a cardiogram but nothing explained the fluid on her lung. Finally they ran an ultrasound on her leg and found the blood clot. The ultrasound showed a clot behind Tresa’s knee and another in her thigh. A doctor explained to her that the calf pain would have been when the Yasmin DVT started. Then it broke off, went to her thigh, and got lodged in her quad muscle.
“I got lucky because the clot in my thigh shattered and little blood clots got into the pleura of my lung,” Tresa explains. “That explains the pain in my chest, and because of the fluid, my lung wasn’t getting any circulation. My doctor said eventually I would have probably lost a lung. I now have lung infarction, which means that the bottom part of my lung is dead.” (If a large blood clot blocks the artery in the lung, blood flow may be completely stopped, causing sudden death. Tresa knows she is lucky to be alive.)
“At the time, when I found out that I had pulmonary emboli, I was more mad than scared,” Tresa adds. “All the tests and all they injected me with in that week was the equivalent of three years of radiation and that can cause cancer. The cardiologist said he didn’t want to run a CT Scan with dye now because I had already been given too much radiation and I should have had the CT Scan with dye as soon as I was admitted. The doctor admitted their mistake.
“I threatened to sue the hospital. Interestingly, I still haven’t received a bill from them and I have to co-pay and I was off work for six weeks - cha-ching. As for my health, I have to take the blood thinner xarelto for at least six months. I’m tired most of the time but I’m trying to get my energy level back. My lung capacity is not like it was and I can’t do the things I used to do. I have no idea if I can ever get back to the fitness level I was at before this happened. As you can guess, I’m really mad at Bayer, the maker of Yasmin.
“When the hospital cardiologist asked me which birth control pill I was taking and I said Yasmin, he unhesitatingly said that was the cause of the pulmonary emboli. My medical record states as much. He also said that no one over 40 should be on birth control pills.
READ MORE YASMIN BIRTH CONTROL LEGAL NEWS
“I still don’t understand how they can make this drug and keep it on the market - it should be illegal. I still see commercials on TV about the benefits of Yasmin. I had a box left. I looked all over the package for warnings and all I could find was a blurb on the insert, which says there are side effects of clotting for women over 35 who smoke.
“I find it incredulous that some hospitals are still not aware of Yasmin blood clots so I really want to get the word out. I’m having complexion problems again but I’ll take a pimple over being dead.”