Lisa Jensen’s Blood Clot Story

Categories: News,Patient Stories

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Lisa JenseLisa Jensenn was an active 27 year old woman, when her active life was interrupted by blood clots in both her left leg and her lungs that she found out were related to May Thurner’s Syndrome. My name is Lisa Jensen and I am a fortunate survivor of both a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

I was busy starting a new school year as a high school English teacher and a graduate student at Western Michigan University in September 2011. I noticed that I felt out of shape, which irritated me, because I live a pretty active life. I run on a regular basis, and even once completed a marathon.  I also participate in a co-ed soccer league, and walk my dogs routinely. However, these activities kept getting harder to do, and I felt out of breath even when I walked my dogs.

One night, while I was getting ready for bed, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my upper left thigh.  Given that I was a healthy 27 year old, I figured I pulled a muscle. I went to bed, but the pain kept worsening. The next morning, I made an appointment to see my doctor.

At that point, I could no longer walk normally. It felt as if I pulled every muscle in my upper left leg. My doctor said not to worry, that it probably was just a pulled muscle, but that she wanted to do a blood test (D-dimer) to check for the possibility of a blood clot.

My doctor called me the next morning to say that my blood work was abnormal, and ordered an ultrasound on my leg. I set up an appointment for the next day, but the pain became so excruciating that I could not sleep that night nor could I put any weight on my leg.  I considered going to the Emergency Room (ER), but put it off, since I had a doctor’s appointment the following afternoon.

I had my husband (then fiancé) take me to the appointment, because the pain made it impossible for me to drive. While they were doing the ultrasound, the nurse discovered that I had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that stretched from my groin to my knee and was completely blocking blood flow in my left leg. The nurse stated that I had to be admitted to the hospital immediately, because the clot could break off and travel to my lungs as a pulmonary embolism (PE) and possibly cause sudden death.  I was in utter shock, since I didn’t know anybody in my family with a history of blood clots, and I certainly didn’t know how serious blood clots were until I had one.

Two pulmonary emboli (PE) were discovered while I was in the hospital; one in each of my lungs. I realized they were the cause of my recent shortness of breath and lack of energy, as well as my sense that I was out of shape. The doctors said that the cause of my DVT was May Thurner’s Syndrome, a syndrome in which my artery was compressing my vein, which caused the clot, because blood could not flow freely. I was also taking hormonal birth control pills, which added to my risk for blood clots, so I stopped them right after I was diagnosed.

My left leg became twice the size of my right leg and I was on a heparin drip and  warfarin to treat the blood clots, and pain medication to relieve the pain. A filter was placed in my inferior vena cava to prevent any more clots from entering my lungs.  A stent was placed in my vein to open it up and stop it from being compressed, and the clot was removed from my leg. This surgery has allowed me to live a normal life and prevented me from dealing with lifelong severe leg swelling and pain.

After five days in the hospital, I was sent home to heal. I was put on injectable low molecular weight heparin, and took warfarin for six months. After three months I was able to have the filter removed. I still experience swelling in my left leg during heavy exercise, but the fact that I can exercise is a gift.  I recently passed the one year anniversary of my ordeal, and am now training for a half marathon.  I can now run seven miles. I took my ability to run for granted before my clots, and I am no longer on warfarin or low molecular weight heparin!
It is crucial that people become informed on the seriousness of blood clots, DVTs, and PEs. Such knowledge can save lives!  Symptoms can be severely underestimated, and I am lucky to be alive today as a DVT and PE survivor, because I checked out what I thought was a muscle pull right away, and my doctor responded appropriately

Take Home Messages

  • Three months is usually the best time to remove filters that are placed to prevent blood clots from entering the lungs.
  •  Lisa’s doctor recognized the symptoms of a possible blood clot (pain, swelling, sense of a muscle pull) and ordered the appropriate tests
  • Exercise is a healthy choice before and after a blood clot
  •  Hormonal birth control pills add to risk for blood clots

The National Blood Clot Alliance’s mission is to advance prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of blood clots, clotting disorders and clot-provoked strokes through public awareness, advocacy and patient and professional education.

Click here to review the signs and symptoms of DVT/PE.

Author: admin

10 Responses to "Lisa Jensen’s Blood Clot Story"

  1. April
    April Posted on April 7, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    I too have experienced blood clots one week before I had a DVT I was diagnosed with a superficial one in the same leg but after a week I had gone walking and during the day my legs felt stiff it was minor in the morning but by the evening I couldn’t sleep and felt like a weight was on it like a tree had fallen on it. My husband talked me into going to the emergency room and because I was so young I didn’t think it was a big deal but the pain was getting excruciating finally when the doctor saw me he said no you were too young for a blood clot when I had suggested this but he went ahead and did an ultrasound and didn’t want t there was the clot. So please dont wait!

  2. fanderso
    fanderso Posted on April 20, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    I’m having a sharp stabbing pain in my right thigh and when I walk it feels like something is stuck in the middle of my thigh from front to back. I am contemplating going to the ER but decided to research my symptons first. That’s when I ran into your story. I have vericose veins really bad. But have always managed to keep an active life with them. I play racquetball ball at the health club, swim and other things although I am overweight. But these pains have me seriously wondering if I don’t have a clot in my deep vein system somehow.

  3. Steven
    Steven Posted on October 6, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Lisa,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I know how scary it is when you’re in ER getting told you’re getting admitted and its life threatening. I however was on your husbands side, my wife Ill as you were but not a clot. I was researching pain I am having and found your descriptive account of of leg discomfort, swelling and pain shoul be helpful to me, as I’ll know what to look out for.

  4. Peggy
    Peggy Posted on October 29, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    One Friday I was out walking with my sister. I have always walked at a very fast pace. The more we walked the slower I got and my leg was hurting. I went home and propped up my leg. They next day I was feeling fine and was out walking again. This time I went home and propped my leg up because it was really hurting, by Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday), I called my doctor but she was not on call. The doctor on call told me to meet him at the emergency room. At this time my leg was six inches larger than the other. He pressed my foot back and said well it’s not a blood clot, oh by the way I smelled alcohol on his breathe. He told me to go home and prop my leg up and call my doctor in the morning. I called my doctor next day, she told me to come in. As soon as she walked into the room she immediately gasp and ordered an ultra sound. It was a DVT from the top thigh to the calf. I told her about her colleague sending me home the night before, she didn’t comment but I could see her fury…That was 15 years ago, but I am prone to blood clots. I have had several foot surgeries and each one my husband has to give me a shot of Lovenox and I take cumadin, but I still would get superficial blood clots. I now take Xarelto and get an ultra sound annually. I still think about how I could have died because a doctor wanted to get back the the Super Bowl. I was blessed!

  5. Miriam
    Miriam Posted on November 11, 2015 at 4:39 am

    Did u ever have severe cramps that literally rip u out of your sleep ?
    I have severe pain in upper left thigh even was in the hospital for two days thinking heart attack but I think they are missing it
    I had a blood clot before in the same leg from an injury….
    I’m scared … And have no family in this country

  6. George
    George Posted on April 8, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    My left leg swelled up, changed to an orangy colour an very painful overnight. Went to the ED in the morning. Admitted me overnight for obs and gave me a full body scan next morning. Found DVT for full length an pe in both lungs.
    Put me on heparin drip and injection. Kept me in for five days and she:-) not me home with injections to self inject for a few days.
    That was 16 years ago and have been on warfarin ever since and for life time. Blood checks monthly or more often when it goes out of range.
    Would’nt recommend DVT’s to anybody. Have been admitted since then with another one on other leg but they just increased my warfarin dose.

  7. Joe
    Joe Posted on April 21, 2016 at 5:37 am

    I’m blessed to hear that surgery could be used to remove the clots. I was diagnosed with blood clots in 2003 and admitted to the hospital right away for treatment, placed a filter in my large vena cava to prevent from going to my lungs they said and had been on caumadin since then and was fine, but few months ago, my left leg started becoming even bigger and larger than the right leg that was having the clots, immediately went to er to be checked. Only to be told the clots has traveled to the left side. Wow, I said with sadness, and I asked the Dr. If there’s anything other forms of treatment order than caumadin, he answered me no. Right there I knew something was wrong. How can it be there’s no alternative treatments for blood clots. As I’m writing this post, I am suffering from sharp and shooting pains from my upper thigh to my grion testicle. A pains experience that keeps me crying like a little baby. Several visit to the ER has been always everything is fine, and I asked myself where is this pain coming from if all is well. If surgery is the answer to this problem why don’t they offe it tor me .

  8. Nancy
    Nancy Posted on May 30, 2016 at 4:06 am

    three nights ago I had a sudden sharp stabbing pain in my inner right thigh. The pain eased and remains a very sensitive area to touch on my inner thigh, very very painful like nothing ive experienced before. There are no other symptoms though, well I have been waking up with very sore ankles and feet/legs heavy to walk for a few minutes… doctor apt in a few days. hope don’t have a DVT before then.

  9. Ebony miller
    Ebony miller Posted on June 8, 2016 at 4:51 am

    Thanks Lisa for sharing your story it sounds all so familiar only it is my daughter who went thru this horrible ordeal. At the age of 8 she experienced the same exact symptoms as you only it took almost 3yrs for her to get a diagnosis. Its been 5 years and several hospital stays later that we finally seem to have this horrible illness under control. She started with 40 mg of lovenox in 2011by 2016 she was taking 90mg several stints 2 filters and 3 embolisms… Finally in march of 2016 she started on 1 aspirin. 1 xarelto horse chestnut seed extract (over the counter vitamin) along with iron pills. By the grace of GOD we haven’t Had any problems since early march 2016