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My name is Kara Rich and my blood clot story began back in 2009. I was raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) by doing training hikes in preparation for a final Grand Canyon hike. I hurt my knee while doing so, however I completed the hike mission both because it would gain closure for me and help others.
My injury resulting in me having knee surgery in 2010. It was an outpatient surgery and I should have been up using my knee like normal within three days, but instead I found myself in great pain. The sharpness was too much and would only be relieved by laying on my back with pillows elevating my knees higher than the rest of my body. I had no signs of swelling or discoloration, only pain. I called the doctor’s office and they put me at a one percent chance that I had a clot due to my age. Listening to my body, though, I requested to be scanned for a clot.
My results showed positive for a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the calf of the same leg I had my knee surgery on. I was rushed to the emergency room where I spent time learning how to give myself shots in the belly and how to use warfarin. My DVT was chalked up to surgery and birth control.
I spent the next year and two months caring for my health condition and trying to regain my knee abilities because, with a blood clot, I couldn’t do rehabilitation on my knee as one should. In 2012, I was free of my DVT and my knee had strength back for another LLS hike. However, this was not the end to my blood clot worries.
Later in 2012, I developed superficial clots in the same leg, this time in my ankle area. Again, I had the pain, but no other signs. Listening to my body, I was off to the doctor. Once again, I was told it was a very low chance for a blood clot due to my age, to which I replied “send me and prove it.”
This started a series of appointments for me, as well as a prescription for warfarin for another nine months. Appointments included genetic testing for Factor V Leiden (which was negative) and testing at a blood cancer center, of all places. They sent me to the blood cancer center thinking my superficial clots were caused by having blood cancer. I was blessed to walk away without a return appointment. I was told I would be a lifer on anticoagulants, followed by doctors saying, “Sorry,” with a messed up face.
I ended up being able to stop taking warfarin. I have not found the reason for my superficial clots, and I continue to be aware of what my body tells me. To help any future clot possibilities or vein issues, I went to get vein treatments for my varicose veins. After completing those treatments at the end of 2015, my legs are feeling okay, but I will remain having a lovely bump in my calf that was a result of my first DVT. I like to call it a reward or a reminder that my story isn’t over.