Care Across Our System: A Patient’s Story

From Barely Able to Breathe, to Running Again

Patient Jennifer Duvall

Jennifer Duvall had just begun her dream of starting martial arts training when she noticed swelling in her left side.

“I didn’t think much of the swelling but also noticed I started getting winded when walking uphill. But I just thought it was a symptom of getting older,” she says. “However, my breathing started to get worse and worse over a few months, and my husband noticed that I was wheezing in my sleep.”

The symptoms were getting worse

Although not a fan of doctors, Jennifer agreed to make an appointment with her provider. When all tests came back normal, her doctor recommended additional testing for blood clots and a possible pulmonary embolism.

“While I was waiting for more information about the tests, it got to the point where it became hard to talk because of my breathing issues,” she says. “I even ended up on the grocery store floor because I could barely breathe or move.”

Getting the care she needed

After another visit to urgent care for additional blood tests, Jennifer was told she needed an emergency CT scan as her blood tests showed elevated numbers that were of concern.

“I was feeling worse with every day, but I was happy to finally have a plan,” she says. “I went to the ER at Spanish Springs for a CT scan and the team found a large blood clot in my leg.” Jennifer was immediately transported to Sierra Medical Center, where Thomas Truong, DO, a cardiologist with Northern Nevada Medical Group, was ready and waiting for her to perform emergency surgery.

“Everything moved really fast once we got to Sierra Medical Center,” she says. “By this point, I had very little control over my body as my symptoms kept worsening. I was shaking as I moved through the pre-surgical process. However, once Dr. Truong started talking to me, I knew I would be OK because of his obvious concern for me.”

After a successful surgery to remove the blood clot, Jennifer was admitted to the ICU, where she spent two nights. “The whole team was really wonderful.” she says. “I was finally able to get answers and find relief from my symptoms.”

An answer to the problem

Doctors discovered that Jennifer is deficient in protein C, which can cause someone to experience blood clots. While Jennifer continues to heal under doctor supervision, she can walk and even run again while maintaining a steady breath.

At Northern Nevada Health System, multidisciplinary teams work together to ensure patients receive the care they need. For patients like Jennifer, this made all the difference, and she is so grateful to have found the answer.