The personal story below is intended for informational purposes only. The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) holds the rights to all content that appears on its website. The use by another organization or online group of any content on NBCA’s website, including the patient stories that appear here, does not imply that NBCA is connected to these other organizations or groups or condones or endorses their work. Please contact info@stoptheclot.org with questions about this matter.


My name is Michelle, and like many of the patient stories on this site, I stumbled upon the Stop The Clot® Facebook page during my research for more information on blood clots. On October 29, 2013, I survived a life-threatening blood clot in my calf (deep vein thrombosis or “DVT”) and lungs (pulmonary embolism or “PE”).

I could have never imagined something as serious as this, could have happened to me. I am a very active, and I run, and practice fitness boot camps almost every day. I have never smoked, or had surgery, or children. I had been on the same birth control pill for 10 years, and switched to a new oral contraceptive in September 2013.

On October 26, 2013, I went out for a run and I felt like I was fighting for breath. I had recently been studying for a test so since my workout schedule had changed I assumed I was just out of shape.  The following morning, as I was walking into my office, I was very tired; my legs felt like they were cramping up, but again I figured it was due to my workouts. This went on a few days, and on October 26th, I went to a clinic where they told me I was experiencing heart burn and allergies. I was sent home with an inhaler and an antacid. My blood pressure always remained in the normal range, and though my pulse was high in the 110 beats range, the doctors thought I was just being nervous.  So with that in mind, I figured I was being dramatic and I just decided to enjoy my weekend, even though I felt like I was unable to breath or eat.

By the next day, my right calf started to feel like it was cramping, the pain went down all the way to my toes. I put ice and hot patches on my leg thinking it was a sports injury, and took some Advil for it. Since I had an appointment with my endocrinologist on October 29th anyway, I figured I would wait to ask him questions.

Well, the morning of my endocrinology appointment I was on a conference call at work, when I felt really sick; my leg and heart stared to pound. I felt very scared, my instincts told me this is not normal, and I felt like I was going to pass out. work from home so I called  911, and when the paramedics came they told me I had a panic attack and to go to my doctor’s appointment. My blood pressure always remained in the normal range and my pulse was high in the 110 beats range and the paramedics said I was too young for a blood clot at 32 years old.

I kept hearing the same 4 questions over and over:

  • Do you have kids?
  • Did you accidentally hit yourself?
  • Have you had any recent surgeries?
  • Have you been in any long trips?

In my case I answered NO to all the questions. I did not fit the profile. I have to say that thankfully my endocrinologist said go to the emergency room as soon as possible. I went from that appointment to see my amazing doctor, who was able to confirm my DVT and PE. I went to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas where amazing doctors gave me a tPA, which stands for Tissue plasminogen activator (abbreviated tPA or PLAT), a protein involved in the breakdown of blood clots. After that, I was put on a new oral anticoagulant or blood thinner, twice a day for a few weeks.

Amazingly, I was out of the hospital after 3 days; the doctors and nurses at Baylor were so great! I only spent about 48 hours in the ICU as a precaution.  I am now following my treatment to the T.  I have not been able to do a boot camp yet, but I am walking 3 miles a day, and I can’t wait to make a full recovery.

I recently  had a second blood clot on January 18, 2016 and thankfully this time around my family and friends were all educated on the matter and were able to help me not dismiss the signs.

Once again, it happened after I went jogging with my best friend, my right calf felt really hard and I could not put any weight on it. I did not let time pass by and immediately went into the emergency room. I let them know my history of previous DVT and PE. I called my primary doctor, who amazingly came to see me at the emergency clinic.  After a quick sonogram they confirmed I had a clot in the same spot as last time. I was hospitalized a few days and will have to take a blood thinner for life.

I have and will continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle. More than ever I am focused on determining what caused me to have a second clot (since I don’t have a genetic condition). My Doctor and I are working together to determine if Venous Insufficiency could be a cause.

But the most important thing is to help educate others about the signs of a DVT, it’s so easy to dismiss. No matter how old you are, have a good doctor that knows your history and be your advocate.  Help us spread the word this March.

My biggest take away of this experience is that you have to be your own advocate, and if you feel sick do not dismiss it. Make sure to have a good doctor that knows your medical history. In my case, I am relatively new to Dallas (1.5 years), and being young and healthy made me lay off the need to have a good family doctor. Going from clinic to clinic definitely delayed my diagnosis. I really hope my story can help other people understand how sudden a DVT and PE is and how commonly it’s misdiagnosed. In order to spread the word, I ask that you help in our effort to raise funds for the National Blood Clot Alliance and spread awareness.


To join our online discussion community and connect with other people who have experienced a blood clot, please click here.

To learn more about signs and symptoms of blood clots, please click here.
To learn more about birth control and blood clot risks, please click here.
To get help finding a healthcare provider, please click here.

 

 

Author: admin

23 Responses to "Michelle Winters’ Blood Clot Story"

  1. Jasmine
    Jasmine Posted on December 17, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    I had my PEs at 21 and was just like you, very active. I was told it was asthma, allergies, and acid reflex. I love the advice you have to everyone about being your own advocate. I knew something was wrong and felt no one would believe me. Thank goodness a doctor at clinic in Arlington, TX sent me to have a CT scan and that’s when they discovered I was PEs in both lungs. I wish you all the best in your recovery. It has been a little over 2 years and I am back to running 10k’s and working out. You will be back to normal in now time. Again, thanks for sharing your story!!
    – Jasmine, Fort Worth TX

    • Michelle Winters
      Michelle Winters Posted on December 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      Thank you Julie and Kimberly! We really need to get the word out ! I am so happy that we are all ok but I somehow want to help out and raise more awareness. @Julie I am so sorry you had to diagnose yourself twice its not ok!
      I don’t have any blood mutations confirmed so far but I am always on the lookout =)

  2. Julie
    Julie Posted on December 18, 2013 at 3:29 am

    I was also 32…could answer “no” to all 4 of those questions. Doctors also told me I was too young…I said “funny, it doesn’t seem that the blood clot understands that”. I have diagnosed myself 2 times with this when the doctors missed it. I was number 6 (known) in the family…so I did have that working for me (or against me?). I am heterozygous for the Prothrombin 20210 (or Factor II) mutation. So yes, it can happen to you :-/

  3. Kimberly Jo Cooley
    Kimberly Jo Cooley Posted on December 18, 2013 at 4:24 am

    Hi Michelle,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and I’m so happy you’re here to tell it. I had a PE at the age of 33 years old this past July. I am otherwise healthy woman. I believe by us telling our stories, we can raise awareness for both patients and medical providers. Take care and thanks for spreading the word.

  4. Stephanie
    Stephanie Posted on December 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Hello Michelle,

    I was 20 years old and 6 months pregnant with my first child. I kept feeling like I had a fever and feeling like my heart was beating fast, but I had felt this way a lot throughout my teenage years, so I just figured it was anxiety and panic attacks, which I had been diagnosed with in 6th grade and had issues with just about every day. I went to my OB appointment as scheduled. They said that something was wrong because the blood flow through my sons umbilical cord was very slow. They sent me to a high risk doctor. The day of my first appointment with the new doctor (about 2 weeks later) became the worst, most terrifying day of my life! The doctor checked for his heartbeat, but never found it. They sent me over to the hospital to have an ultrasound to make sure their finding were accurate. They found the same thing, that he was gone. They induced labor at 7pm that day and i had my son (Gabriel) at 10:25 the next morning (July 1, 2005). About a week after I lost my son, my mother and I were riding down the road and all of a sudden I started feeling like I had slept on my left side wrong. I started to feel short of breath. ( I love to sing and I noticed that I couldn’t hold notes as long as I usually could). It was within about ten minutes that it went from feeling like this, to feeling like I was breathing through a tiny straw. I tried to lay down in the back seat and told mom I wanted to go home. Slightly reclining my body took my breath away. I started getting really scared and told her to just take me to the hospital. Once there, they had decided that I had pneumonia and sent me on my way with antibiotics. I told them that I had had pneumonia as a child and this felt very different, like the muscle had a really bad charlie horse in it. The muscle felt like it was being squeezed really tight. I told them I thought I had a blood clot in my lung, but they said I was too young to have a blood clot. I had just lost my son the week earlier and was told that after you had a child, that you bleed afterwards. I didn’t at all, so after I gave birth, I looked through some pregnancy books to see what all it said and that’s where I saw that there could be clotting issues. I told them it had to be the issue, I felt I was going to die! They sent me home anyway but reassured me that they would send my x-rays and stuff to another hospital just for confirmation. The next morning I received a phone call saying I needed to get back to the hospital as soon as possible.because a near by hospital had confirmed that it was in fact a Pulmonary Embolism. After being in the hospital for a few weeks, with numerous tests done, it was my sons autopsy that saved me. The autopsy showed that I had a blood disorder called Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome. The doctors say my blood is like molasses. They said that with proper medication, my husband and I could still try to have children, so we tried again, and in 2006 I miscarried 12 weeks. I didn’t have any clotting episodes that I know of. In 2008 we tried for the 3rd time and I had two strokes. I felt like one side of my body got drunk without me knowing and I just could not figure out how to work it. The right side of my face started drooping and tingling. I have no residual effects, other than a few minor things. My husband and I decided that we weren’t going to try “the old fashioned way” anymore, so we had an amazing gestational surrogate give birth to our daughter, Gracie, last January! Three months after Gracie was born, we learned that I was pregnant for the 4th time. I was terrified!! Everything was going amazing with the pregnancy.I stayed sick the whole time, which was great because they said my pregnancy hormones were great!! They told us it was a little boy at 13 weeks gestation. He was doing so well. I was at work one night and felt like I was going to pass out for just a few minutes, then it went away. A few days later, August 13th, 2013, we went for his body scan, to get all his measurements and see if everything was on target. They checked my belly size, (measuring one week ahead, YAY!!) then they checked for his heartbeat……they never found it. They induced me at 6:30 that day, and I gave birth to our son (Loris |||) at 12:17pm on August 16, 2013. I knew something didn’t feel right, but because others already see me as a hypochondriac, I tried not to panic. We got his autopsy report back not long ago. They said the cord was wrapped around his neck and tied in a knot. It didnt have anything to do with my APS this time, but I knew something didn’t feel right those few days before. I wish I would have done something. I should have. People know their bodies way better than anyone else and I just wish that everyone could listen to them. I know I \
    ‘ ./could have saved a few lives if I wasn’t so afraid of being judged.

    • G. Gregory Akrey
      G. Gregory Akrey Posted on December 1, 2015 at 2:41 am

      Wow, As a male I cannot comment on childbirth but as a human I am so sympathetic for your ordeals. You must be one heck of a Lady to not only relate your story without anger and remorse but to persevere through it all!
      I myself am on my third DVT. Fun. Started with a little whacked out dog. Bit me right on the ass as I was bending over. Luckily got my wallet! Ha-ha. But being a devil dog in disguise he quickly countered to a swift taste of my right calve. Ouch. Hospital said no biggie. We’re they wrong.
      i was going to just read these comments searching for, hoping for a clue or similar situation as mine, then I read yours. I had no intention of replying to anything.
      But your compelling post got me. Hope the best for you and family!! Wish more individuals on this blue rock handled lifes “situations” as well as you.

  5. Michelle Winters
    Michelle Winters Posted on December 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Thank you Julie and Kimberly! We really need to get the word out ! I am so happy that we are all ok but I somehow want to help out and raise more awareness. @Julie I am so sorry you had to diagnose yourself twice its not ok!
    I don’t have any blood mutations confirmed so far but I am always on the lookout =)

  6. Amanda
    Amanda Posted on December 30, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. I had a serious DVT a month before my 31st birthday. Similar to you, I am a regular runner so I thought I had injured myself. It was quite a shock when I was expecting tendonitis when the Dr. said DVT. I wish I had a dollar for each time someone said, “But you’re so young!” Most people don’t realize blood clots don’t care if you’re young or old!

    • Michelle Winters
      Michelle Winters Posted on March 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you so much for your reply! I am getting ready to stop taking blood thinners I hope It goes well after that =) Good luck to you too!

  7. Kym Tom
    Kym Tom Posted on February 28, 2014 at 12:44 am

    My friend suffered from a blood clot. It is a very dangerous issue that is rarely talked about. It is important to pay attention to your body and take your symptoms seriously. You know your body better than anyone, and we must never let medical professionals discount what we are feeling. Thanks for sharing this story.

    • Michelle Winters
      Michelle Winters Posted on March 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you so much! I hope your friend is feeling better now =)

      • Jen
        Jen Posted on February 13, 2016 at 2:55 am

        Hi Michelle and all, prayers to everyone . in Sept 2015 I became ill with asthma and bronchitis.. After a course of antibiotics, I felt better but ended up in er a few weeks later. I then was given more antibiotics and told to b on bed rest. (46 yrs old and active ) I did that. After about 6 days , my asthma , wheezing and hoarseness would not go away , then came the sharp pain in my left calf. I thought I was stiff and in pain due to the bed rest. After after 7 days ,my younger sis who is a physician asked how I was feeling and stated that my cough and wheezing were still bad to her . I then told her about my pain in leg and after describing , she asked if I was still taking birth control pills. I have for nearly 30 yrs. She said that with my ordered bedrest and pills , she honestly thought I had a clot and to speak with my doctor. I then was in denial and waited another week. Totaling 2 weeks walking around with the pain . I finally called my Dr . and described what I was feeling , and what my sister had told me. After an immediate ultrasound , it was determined that I did have an extensive vlot in my leg and they thought it traveled to my lungs. Was then sent to er and further testing showed I had clots in both lungs. After heparin drip and 3 days in hospital, I’m now on eliquis thinners , 2x a day until April. Finally after 4 months , no asthma , no breathing problems , and have become active and lost weight. However , I am experiencing heartburn almost nightly , very bad and I decided to look on here to see if anyway , its connected to the clots. Any info would be great . Thank you all for sharing and bless you all.

  8. Brandy the Mother
    Brandy the Mother Posted on April 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. This is an often over-looked and underestimated condition.

  9. Heather Patterson
    Heather Patterson Posted on May 21, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Hi – I had an undiagnosed DVT since December (had been in hospital with Ulcerative Colitis and felt a dull ache in the calf of my leg but consultant didn’t think it anything serious and really made me feel I was looking for things to complain about as my legs were both as weak as water too! which I was told as I had been so ill it would take time to build up m,y strength again. In any case my legs never regained their strength some six months later and my breathing was getting more laboured and laboured as the weeks went by but as the respiratory GP in my clinic dioagnosed it as being wind I kept going until some six weeks later my usual GP checked out my pulse etc and sent me immediately to A&E as my pulse was so fast and my oxygen level so low……was in re-suss for hours then a smart Doctor treated me for a clot as she was sure that’s what the problem was so gave me warfarin….then a CT scan revealed I had indeed clots on both lungs but really cant get any advice whether I should be walking….resting……..and feel quite angry that this went so long undiagnosed as I had been three times in hospital with the colitis and every time I was in I asked every level of medical person why my legs had no strength and why I had a couple of frighteneing dizzy spells and generally I was worried by this and I had every sort of answer but nobody thought of clots and yet my grandmother dies of thrombosis, my maternal grandfather had COPD amd my mother had a heart attack due to a clot on the lung. I am furious and have TOTASLLY lost faith in doctors.

  10. Ken Gauthier
    Ken Gauthier Posted on January 22, 2015 at 4:45 am

    Hi there, i’m a healthy fit 29-year-old male who was recently diagnosed with DVT six days ago. like many others on this forum I assumed it was muscle strain/injury as I am extremely active with physical fitness (snowboarding, weightlifting,etc). Definitely reading these other stories makes me feel that I’m not the only one and that this does indeed happen to likewise healthy individuals. Should you ever come across my posting I would love tk touch base with you if you have a chance. I’m curious to see how your road to recovery has been and how you have got back on track with your CrossFit and other sports hobbies. At the moment I’m currently going through some depression, considering all I want to do is get back on my snowboard. knowing that I could be on blood thinners for a very long time means that I might never get to do that ever again, at least how I would like to. I hope you’re doing well.

  11. Sarah
    Sarah Posted on March 7, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Thanks for sharing your story,

    Im an athletic 20 year old college student (I was running 4-6 miles per day) and I was just diagnosed with my first PE last week. I also thought that I was just out of shape when I was experiencing trouble breathing during my runs. Luckily, I listened to my instincts and went to the emergency room and they found the clots in my lungs. My doctors say it’s still too early for me to get back to running because my blood is still too thick, but Im hoping I’ll be able to get back to it soon. Thanks to everyone for sharing, it helps to know you’re not the only one going through this!

  12. Kari
    Kari Posted on March 15, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Its been 4 years for me and it still hurts to breathe

  13. Lisa
    Lisa Posted on March 15, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you for writing your story. I believe most doctors don’t diagnosis correctly when it comes to DVT or PE. I myself have had DVT’s and several PE. I woke up one morning after doing a deep cleaning of my house and thought it was from that pulled muscle in my leg the pain was something I’ve never had in my life but like most took Advil and went on to work. As the day went on my leg was so red, swollen and was really hurting keep thinking boy did I do a number to my muscles? I continued to work throughout the week when I finally asked” I work in the health field” our nurse practitioner if she would look aty leg. She did and said I beleive you have a DVT and you need to get to hospital ASAP? I went right away but as soon as I was seen the ER doctor kept saying you only have a sore ankle. I called my hemotalagisis and ask if he could speak to the ER doctor because I knew it was not a sore ankle. I see a hemotalagisis due to having “hemochromatosis” which is I product to much iron in my body. If you are not aware of this Google hemochromatosis for more info. So anyway my doc did call the ER doc and told him please check her for DVT’s and PE. Next thing I know I’m in ICU and not allowed to get up or move. Scared to dealth my doc came to see me and said thank god you called me or you would of been dead? I had DVT im R leg PE in both lungs. I had to stay in bed at thst hospital for almost 2 weeks. I’ve had several more DVT’s and PEs since my first one diagnose with anti thrombosis III disorder I will be on blood thinners the rest of my life. I started taking 25mg of comandin daily and finally now on 12mg daily or as my PT inr results change my dosage up or down. I’ve been clot free for the last couple of years but I get check out freq and always remember to take my medication. May God Bless us ALL…

  14. Dakota
    Dakota Posted on March 15, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    This story is one of many, and tells how easily DVT and PE get misdiagnosed. I was 15 and literally clotted from hip to ankle, with several PE’s but it never was diagnosed until almost list my life and my leg. I am 23, 24 in May, and I continue to clot. I have a dlube genetic disorder and several other issues that makeine a special and extremely difficult case. However, I just wanted to say it doesn’t stop life!

  15. Kris
    Kris Posted on March 15, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    I was diagnosed with my PE just a little over 2 years ago. I have had a history of breathing difficulties over the last 10 years or so, according to doctors, due to some asthma and Dysautonomia. The day I was diagnosed I felt as though I was going to pass out and could barely make it from my bed to my bedroom door. I just chalked it up to being the worst Dysautonomia attack ever (passing out and lightheaded was are both symptoms). It was when my heart started beating out of my chest that I began to think I was having a heart attack. I called my father who lives about 5 minutes away and he told me to call 911, which I did. When paramedics arrived, they rushed me to the local ER and when you come in to the ER via ambulance, with shortness of breath you get amazing “first class” treatment!! A few vials of blood, and a CT scan later and the doctor told me it was a PE. They couldn’t find the cause of it (no DVT and no bloods clotting disorder). I could answe yes to a few of the typical questions – I had an injury (my horse kicked me in the calf area which left s huge bruise and took months to heal but it had happened about 3 months prior), I had traveled long distances (2 trips back and forth from NY to FL, but that was about a year prior) and yes I had been on birth control (but I only started them 5 days prior to the PE. Doctors said my heart was so enlarged that it seemed as though my clots (which were freakin huge according to the docs) had been there for quite sometime. They honestly didn’t think that they would dissolve and told me I may need to have a surgery called a thromboendarterectomy (this is where they go in to your lungs and remove the hardened clots). I began to mentally prepare myself for this. I was discharged from the hospital a week later with blood thinners and oxygen thinking I would be having open heart-lung surgery. It would need to be done at a hospital out in CA as that is the best facility in the US for the procedure. The doctors out in San Diego wanted repeat scans before I headed out there and miraculously they turned out clear as in the clots had dissolved. My doctors were stunned! I was relieved as I wouldn’t need surgey after all! I thought I was in the clear. I still had to have some further testing as my symptoms remain. I am still incredibly short of breath and get winded easily. I tire after even the most easiest of activity. I had 3 different heart cath’s and pulmonary lung function tests, all of which came back normal. After reading up on my symptoms, I truly believe that I have PH but doctors can’t figure me out! I carry a pulse Oximeter and when I’m doing anything physical, my heart rate is in the 120-130 range and my oxygen desats to about 90-94. When I’m resting all seems fine and my heart rate drops to about the 90’s and my oxygen is about 95-98. I just wish I could gain my strength back so I can feel like my old self again. I know I’m not necessarily young at the age of 42, but I feel so much older and it’s not fun at all! I’m a medical mystery and I have a feeling I will be for quite some time !

  16. Courtney O'Neal
    Courtney O'Neal Posted on March 17, 2015 at 1:36 am

    Michelle, I am so glad for you that you survived this. You mentioned you see an endocrinologist. I noticed a lot of people with blood clot stories are also hypothyroid, as am I. I nearly died from a pe a few mos after going on the NuvaRing birth control. I share my story every chance I can get to educate others.

  17. Erick
    Erick Posted on May 3, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I wuz dignosed wit PE in my lung and leg after a C section I wuz 24 wks preg I lost my baby she was 2 wks old a couple of days I got out hospital I complained bout how bad my side back and neck hurt when I breathe he sent me home after the baby funeral I went to another hospital where the told me I had PEs in lung and leg I thought I’d die Im nw on blood thinner could xeralto once a day its very important that I take it everyday or things could go wrong but thank God Im still here I have til Aug to be on blood thinner

  18. Tara King
    Tara King Posted on February 3, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Something is wrong with me and no doctor will listen. I can be sleeping, sitting and watching a movie, sitting at my desk at work or just playing on my phone when all of the sudden everything zooms out and turns grayish white. I can’t hear or see anything for just a few seconds and it feels like my heart stops for a split second then BOOM, my heart pounds so hard that I can breathe and I shake so hard (fear) that I can barely stand. Now, I’ve had panic attacks my entire adult life and never been so afraid that I ended up in the ER. It’s so terrifying. I literally feel like I’m dying, I just know I’m so close to death when this happens. I’ve also just had a c-section, and I’m a smoker and I was once an addict and I know all of these play a part in PE. I can’t get anyone to listen to me, even when I beg. They automatically tell me, “no, you’re just having a panic attack. We deal with this every day, it’s almost normal”….wtf? You seriously won’t just hear me out? Can we not just rule it out!? That’s why I have insurance! Somebody, please, tell me what I need to do. To say.