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I never knew that I was a risk for a blood clot that nearly killed me. One week after giving birth to my second child I started experiencing hip pain, called the OB office, spoke with a nurse and I was told that it was probably the result of delivery and I was advised to ice it and rest. Another week went by and the pain was getting worse so I called a second time and the nurse said I’d receive a referral for me to a physical therapist if needed, thinking I may have damaged something during the delivery, but not to worry. I was advised to give it one more week and make an appointment if it doesn’t get better.
A few days went by and, just as I expected, life with a toddler and newborn was tiring and chaotic. I was sleep deprived and didn’t have any time to pay much attention to myself or body, but late one evening my husband pointed to my leg and it was astonishingly red and swollen. He insisted on calling the hospital immediately and it was then that they finally recognized that this was serious and paged a doctor who instructed that I go to the emergency room because my condition sounded like a blood clot. We didn’t know what that meant, but the term blood clot sounded serious and that was all we knew.
I was given an ultra sound, which unveiled a 12 inch clot that fanned from my mid-thigh to my lower abdomen and I was admitted into the hospital right away. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in this dimly light hospital room with my husband and two week old son and am being told that this is a very serious clot, in a very serious location and there is a good chance that I could die. I was in an absolute intense state of shock and couldn’t believe what I was hearing..
The doctors never warned me about blood clots and I never read about them in any of the pregnancy books. It wasn’t until I did some research on clots that I discovered this team of healthcare professionals was working with a known risk group, pregnant women, and all of my signs were evident, I fit the profile of a blood clot candidate, but my concerns were dismissed and a clot that should have been so obvious to medical professionals was overlooked. When I asked my doctor why I wasn’t warned or educated of these risk factors, I was told they didn’t want to scare pregnant women and the risk factors are low. Yet 1 in every 1000 pregnant women gets a blood clot. Blood clots can lead to pulmonary embolisms (PE), a blockage of the pulmonary artery, and 25% of PE’s are fatal. This is a tragedy concerning newborn babies losing their mothers and if this isn’t a tragedy worth preventing, then I don’t know what is. stand to lose losing their mothers.
I received treatment and survived, but not all women are as lucky as I. Some clots can be prevented and some cannot, but knowing how to prevent them the signs and getting immediate medical attention is half the battle. My advice to all expectant mothers is to do your own research assess your individual risk with your doctor, stay hydrated and mobile, and pay attention to what your body may be trying to tell you.
Posted November 22, 2008