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By: Lauren Hamentz

My name is Lauren Hametz and I graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in May 2012 with a Masters degree in Secondary Education, although I am originally from Edinboro, PA. Recently, I stumbled upon Stop The Clot on Facebook, and immediately felt a strong connection to National Blood Clot Alliance. Why?  In May 2011, I almost died at age 23 from bilateral pulmonary emboli (PEs).  I felt agonizing pain in my stomach that traveled to my left shoulder  .  The pain became a lot sharper and I felt a ping of pain every time I took a breath.  Whenever I tried to lie down, the pain became even worse.  I noticed an extreme loss of energy during that time.  I used to run for about an hour every day; instead, I felt short of breath just walking up a flight of stairs.  Since I had previously had mononucleosis, I went to see the school doctors, who told me nothing was wrong.  My energy level continued to decrease, and there was one time in particular when I went for a run, yet could only go about 100 feet before I couldn’t move anymore.  My legs cramped, so I had to walk, and I felt completely defeated.

I also traveled to Hilton Head Island in late April 2011 in a 10 hour straight car ride.  I spent three days working at a golf tournament and drove another 10 hours straight back to school.  I woke up one morning with tightness in my chest a couple of weeks later.  I felt as if someone had knocked the wind out of me, and I also had pain under the ribs on my left side later in the day.  I couldn’t lie down on that side, because the pain was so intense.  I had a list of symptoms that I should have realized were serious, but I viewed myself as healthy.  To the best of my knowledge, I was a completely healthy 23-year-old who had always made healthy choices in my life.  I never smoked, took illegal drugs, and played Division II Volleyball in college.

I woke up one morning with pain in my left elbow that same month.  I assumed I hit it on something, although the pain persisted for a couple of days and I kept looking for bruises where I assumed I hit it.  A bump formed near my elbow, and I joked to my friends that I had a worm in my arm.  The worm turned-it was a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

I was getting ready to head home for a couple of days, which is a 4 hour drive.  My symptoms continued to get worse, and I couldn’t even lie flat without moaning in pain.  A friend told me my symptoms were probably due to gas.  My mother was very concerned, and I told her I just needed to get rid of the gas.  After the long drive to Hilton Head, I told my roommate about my pain, who told me I looked sick.  I spent the night searching Google to try to find out what my symptoms meant, since I could not sleep, and came to the conclusion it was my gallbladder.  My friend accompanied me to the Emergency Room (ER), after I went for a run the next morning.

The ER doctors couldn’t find what was wrong until they did a chest scan that showed PEs.  My parents came to see me right away.  When I heard I had blood clots in my lungs, could not help but wonder what was happening to me.  Doctors questioned me about my life choices to try to determine how I ended up with blood clots in my lungs.  I was in shock that this happened to me.  How did it happen that I have blood clots?

I was using the hormonal ring for birth control.  I did not get many answers to my questions while I was in the hospital.  I was scared and confused.  I was young, and there was no family history of blood clots.  I was started on blood thinners and carried on with my life.  It wasn’t until August 2011 that I learned I had Factor V Leiden and Factor II blood clotting disorders.  I will now take blood thinners for the rest of my life.  I was advised to stop hormonal birth control immediately.  The doctors weren’t sure if it was what caused the blood clots, but they saw it as a contributor to my risk for blood clots, given that I have two blood clotting disorders.
It is now almost a year since this whole nightmare happened.  I’ve had one more blood clot since, again in my left elbow. This time I felt the pain and immediately knew what it was.  I am now on injections of low molecular weight heparin, which my doctor says I will be on for the rest of my life.  I am praying and waiting for the doctor to tell me when there is a new blood thinner that treats DVT and PE, so that I don’t have to inject myself every single day and have bruises and bumps on my stomach.

I learn something new about my disorder every day and am still learning.  The  web site was eye opening for me.  Merely seeing that March is an awareness month focused on blood clots makes me feel as if I can make a difference, since I want to help others learn more about risks, prevention, and treatment of blood clots.  Reading the stories written by others who had blood clots stopped me in my tracks.  The first story I read was about an active 23 year old girl, who died from a PE.  This made me realize for the first time that I could have died last May.  One more day, one more hour, and I may have died.

I think it is extremely important to improve awareness about DVT and PE, especially in women.  I inherited the Factor V Leiden blood clotting factors from my dad, who at 58 has never experienced a known blood clot.  I look back and realize that I was someone who ran for an hour every day and then all of a sudden could not walk up a flight of stairs without stopping.  I did not persist and delayed seeking care, even when my symptoms were worsening.  I will now pay more attention to symptoms in the future, as I did with my second DVT in my arm.

I learned to listen to my body.  It tells me when things aren’t right.

Take Home Messages

  • Hormonal birth control increases risk for DVT and PE, and risk is greater in presence of blood clotting disorders
  • Seek care immediately for pain that does not go away
  • Seek care immediately for shortness of breath or any noticeable change in what you can normally do
  • Get up and move about every hour when traveling for more than four hours

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Author: admin

6 Responses to "Lauren Hametz’s Blood Clot Story"

  1. Dakotah
    Dakotah Posted on July 9, 2013 at 5:25 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. I finally found out what was causing my extreme pain, swelling and lack of circulation in my arm– a blood clot. They didn’t catch it at first, but they finally found it in my subclavial artery in my right arm. I’m currently waiting to hear back from the doctor about the genetic testing. I’m a little relieved to know I’m not alone. My story is so similar to yours, I’m so scared and worried about his whole journey…but at least I know there is a support group.

    Thank you!!

    Dakotah Bellione

  2. Dave Hodowany
    Dave Hodowany Posted on July 23, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Just found out two days ago that probably the last 6 years of painful misery that I was going through may have been caused by a blood cloth right under my right armpit. All of the sudden my whole arm had gone extremely swollen just a few days back. I have also been struggling with the lack of physical shape despite the fact that I was regularly working out. I don’t want to go through the whole ordeal but it seems so similar to what you’ve had experienced. Plus I have also had sore elbow joints and constant diarrhoea for the last few years. The symptoms can vary as I was told by my clinician and sometimes it can even cause simple rashes, excessive itching nearly anywhere or as I have mentioned diarrhoea. So watch for yourselves out there. Nobody could’ve helped me and I was forced to spent a fortune on doctors and various medications that never helped before finding out.

    Thank you for sharing this. Wish you all the best!

    Dave (not a genuine English speaker)

  3. Reann P
    Reann P Posted on August 2, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    When I read stories such as yours, it makes me feel so much better, but also just so sad and defeated at the same time. I myself am a 23 year old healthy and active female. Last September I began feeling shoulder pain and my right arm was extremely swollen. Beside that, I felt fine overall. Just to be safe I went to the emergency room and not only did they find clots in my arm but PEs as well. The doctors were shocked that I felt very little chest pain and my energy levels were just about the same. I think they did not want to scare me with the reality of the situation because it was not until a while later after doing my own research did I realize how serious clots and especially PEs are.

    Since then I have been on blood thinners and have gotten multiple blood tests done, but so far they have found nothing. About a month ago my left arm began feeling a similar pain and it turns our there was scarring from an old clot in that arm as well. The closest I have come to a diagnosis is after I had a venogram performed on both arms. This only concluded that I might have something called thoracic outlet syndrome in my right arm (this involves getting a rib removed to let the vein being pinched get more circulation). Unfortunately the same does not apply for the left arm. That makes it all the more scary and confusing.

    I will continue to search for answers and it makes me feel less alone when I read stories such as these. I am so sorry to anyone who has to experience these types of situations. The best we can do is spread the word on his growing problem. I wish you all the best of luck.

  4. Laura
    Laura Posted on October 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I was diagnosed with PE after a long surgery: 8-9 hrs. on Aug. 25, 2014. I am still experiencing life changing symptoms.

    If you have experienced blood clots or PE, please consider genetic testing for a MTHFR defect. The two most common are: MTHFR C677T and MTHFR A1298C. Either one of these defects makes one more susceptible to blood clots. A blood test for Fibrinogen levels may also provide useful information.

    There are many websites dedicated to MTHFR defects.

    Wishing you all good health.

  5. Posted on October 16, 2014 at 2:10 am

    Blood clots – a Challenge and a history fo family

  6. Posted on October 16, 2014 at 2:31 am

    We thought were just a regular family – no problem everyday life until – my son 17 years developed pain in his back across his abdomen. we thought a appendicitis. He was excited about going to the prom – we were too – he had a pain in his back – we put it off thinking nothing urgent. He woke in the middle of the night in severe pain – I t was valentines day – thinking it was appendicitis or constipation We were not really concerned until – the doctor came in and wanted to talk to me and his father. What did they have to say that the rest of the family could not hear You have cancer and can not treat you – have to send you to a specialist. Off we go to CHOP OF phila- what a joke – Cancer saving his sperm, saving his lif3 from cancer – it was not cancer – it was a giant blood clot – from his toes to his abdomen. How miss diagnosis he was -months of test and life threatening intervention.