“God Gave me a second chance.” Island woman suffered strokes caused by birth control pill

Tammy Caissie suffered a stroke and two mini strokes caused by the Yasmin

Birth control pill. Hailey Caissie photo.

By Hailey Caissie

April 14, 2021

Tammy Caissie woke up early one morning and was barely able to move her left arm. She thought she was having a heart attack.

She considered driving herself to the hospital but figured she probably shouldn’t drive in case it was a heart attack.

Caissie woke up her husband, JP, and told him she needed to go to the hospital. She couldn’t move her arm at all, and her left leg was getting heavy.

At the Prince County Hospital in Summerside, a CAT scan revealed what looked like a brain bleed.

Leading up to her hospital admission, Caissie was in bed for about five days with a really bad headache.

She had been prone to migraines all her life, and often ended up stuck in bed for days with intense pain in her head. She had recently had an attack, but this time it turned out to be more.

The doctors at the PCH consulted with a specialist in Moncton, who wasn’t sure if it was indeed a brain bleed. So Caissie stayed in the intensive Care Unit for the weekend.

An MRI showed it was actually a blood clot and not a bleed.

“I didn’t have a stroke, did I?”

Caissie spent the next five weeks in the hospital. During that time doctors determined it was caused by something synthetic – the birth control pill.

About three weeks into Caissie’s hospital stay, she was transported by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for another MRI.

 The paramedic asked her some routine questions.

“When did you have your stroke?”

Caissie looked at him.

“Stroke?”

She looked at the nurse.

“I didn’t have a stroke, did I?”

The nurse said yes, and she started to cry.

No one had told her.

Apparently the stroke had happened the day before she was admitted to the hospital.

More strokes

Later while in the hospital, Caissie ended up suffering two mini strokes in the same the same week.

She was lying in her hospital bed when the first one happened, her face began to droop, and her left side became paralyzed. Her husband was in the room with her, and he called the nurse.

The second time, Caissie was visiting with family when she started to feel strange. She turned to tell her husband she wanted to go back to her room, but no words came out. Eventually her speech returned the next day.

An MRI showed that the blood clot had grown. Doctors told her that’s why she had the mini strokes.

Caissie completed five weeks of occupational therapy. She pretty much made a full recovery.

Today, her body is a little weaker than it used to be on the left side and she tends to forget simple things every day.

She can no longer take any medication that have hormones.

One of thousands affected by Yasmin birth control

Tammy Caissie is just one of thousands of women who suffered either a blood clot, gallbladder problems, heart attack or stroke from the Yasmin or Yaz birth control pill.

In Canada, the pills have been linked to 23 deaths – the youngest only 14.

Between 2010-2015, three separate class action lawsuits were filed in Canada against the pill’s manufacturer, Bayer AG.

In 2011, several independent studies came to light questioning the safety of birth control pills made with a synthetic estrogen drospirenone (medication used to prevent pregnancy), an active ingredient used in Yaz and Yazmine.

Drospirenone may increase a person’s risk of blood clots by as much as three times the risk of progestins such as levonorgestreal (a synthetic steroid hormone with similar effects to progesterone), which is used in older oral contraceptives. This was confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012.

The lawsuits accused Bayer of knowing the increase risks and failing to share that information with consumers and the medical community.

Health Canada issued a warning in 2011 about Yaz and Yasmin, saying the risk of blood clots, which is rare overall, is 1.5 to 3 times higher with the drospirenone containing pills than with some other birth control pills.

While one in 10,000 women on older birth control pills will develop blood clots, as many as three in 10,000 will develop blood clots on Yaz or Yasmin.

As for Caissie, she decided not to take any legal action.

 “I felt that God gave me a second chance. If I went ahead and sued, maybe something bad would happen,” said Caissie. “I wasn’t going to test lady luck.”

The lawsuits against the company are still ongoing.