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Mike MorrelliI was feeling quite a bit of pain and some swelling in my right leg 4 days after an accident at work. Since my work hours were ridiculous and I couldn’t get out in time to go to a workers’ compensation provider (heath care providers that treat people with workplace injuries, also called a “workers’ comp clinic”), I decided to go home for the night and go to a clinic the following day. Half way home my leg started hurting so much I could barely push the pedals of my car. I went to the ER (emergency room) instead.

My right calf was measured at 3.2 inches larger in circumference than the left one.  They immediately ordered an ultrasound, and found several small clots in my leg. The doctor told me I was lucky I didn’t go home, or go to a workers’ comp clinic. He told me I could have had major problems that night, or the clots could have gone undetected due to the lack of resources at most clinics. I was put on warfarin and I had to be tested every 4 days for 6 months, as my INR (blood test that measures the effectiveness of warfarin) levels were all over the place. No one had ever really given me a good explanation of the dietary restrictions and other issues with warfarin. I was finally taken off the warfarin without further testing. The doctor told me it was normal to treat the clots this way and I shouldn’t have any further issues in the future.

Fast forward over two years, and I was having a typical day. I had tried to go on vacation with my partner to a remote town in the Colorado mountains, but snow closed the roads and we had to turn around and go home. I had just made a bowl of cereal for a late breakfast, and sat down to the late morning news. After one bite I realized I couldn’t catch my breath. Not having any idea what it could be, I stood up and tried to stretch out my chest. I had been recovering from Pneumonia from a few weeks earlier, and I figured I was just having some issues related to that. Once I stood up I almost blacked out. I knew right away this was not a normal situation and that I had not experienced anything like this before. Every breath I took I seemed to lose more air, and panicking I told my partner to get the car because I had to go to the hospital.

When I walked into the ER the admissions person had her head down, and politely asked me “What are we seeing you for tonight hun?”

I began to gasp at her, trying to tell her I couldn’t breathe.

She looked up at me and immediately directed “Give me your driver’s license and come to the back right now”. It was less than 5 minutes before I was hooked to oxygen, and O2 monitor (monitor that measures the oxygen in your blood), and a heart monitor, and had several nurses and doctors running around me. Apparently my face was pure white and my lips had turned purple. I was having trouble focusing and speaking, but I related my history of recent Pneumonia and DVT’s (Deep Vein Thrombosis or leg clots) a few years before. They set me up for several IV’s and rushed me to a CT scan (x-ray that can take detailed picture of the lungs), which confirmed pretty much the worst-case scenario.

I had a massive, bilateral embolism (in both lungs) that was blocking approximately 70% of my blood flow, which was causing my heart to overwork to try and push the blood that was backing up into it. I was on a tPA drip (clot buster) within a half hour of arriving. Less than an hour later I was in Intensive Care Unit, and was put on a Heparin (blood thinner or anticoagulant) drip. I was constantly monitored for complications and for heart/ breathing irregularities. I had a filter inserted into my vein and pushed down into my Inferior Vena Cava (Vein that carries the blood from the lower body to the heart) near my stomach. It needs to be removed in a couple of months, but it will hopefully catch any other clots that try and work their way up. I was put on Lovanox (a blood thinner for you take via shots in the stomach) and Warfarin. When I had a therapeutic level of Warfarin (Coumadin®) in my system, I was allowed to leave the hospital. That was 7 days after my trip to the ER.

I don’t mean to be dramatic in my story to drum up sympathy, or to boast at my miraculous survivor abilities. I have never been so scared, and the whole situation has given me a great deal of pause about my daily life and how I live it. Many of the things I let stress me so badly don’t seem so important any more. I’m alive, and 10 or 15 minutes later I may not have been. If I had made my vacation, and was in a little mountain town I probably would not have been. So many things could have happened, but didn’t, and I’m alive because of it.

I also want to relate to others who have gone through a similar situation with this horrible condition. After I left the hospital, and I experienced horrible anxiety. I felt out of breath even though I wasn’t. I went to the doctor twice and my oxygen levels were fine, but I still felt like I was suffocating. I am going to talk to my doctor about getting some professional help with the emotional side of it, because I know I can’t live a full life walking around terrified of dying all the time. It’s really brought my life to a standstill, and given me a great pause. I know, as time goes by, I will get better and get back to the day to day. I just want to let others know that you are not alone, you are not the only one who feels the way you do, and that we are all lucky to have survived something that we could very well have died from.

No one in my family was ever treated for clots in the past. I was tested during my hospital stay for any genetic traits that may have caused my illness. They all came up negative. It was truly an “out of the blue” experience and I’m thankful every day that I survived.

Take Home Messages

  • DVTs often start out as a pain and swelling in your leg
  • Ask questions when prescribed warfarin or other blood thinners/anticoagulants so you can make sure you understand the instructions for taking the medications
  • Having a blood clot increases your risk of having another one
  • It is important to tell providers that you once had a blood clot when you give your medical history
  • Surviving a blood clot is an emotional experience
  • Surviving a blood clot is a life changing experience
  • Blood clot survivors need to support each other
Author: admin

21 Responses to "Mike Morelli’s Blood Clot Story"

  1. Liz Kuhns
    Liz Kuhns Posted on February 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. I survived an extremely large blood clot and pulmonary embolisms and it does play with your emotions to go through something like that! Instant attitude adjustment right?

    • naomiy
      naomiy Posted on November 10, 2015 at 10:57 am

      Mike am very scared and I don’t know what to do or who to tell,I have similer simptoms but withouteny support and understanding of what am going through.but it helps to know that there are people like me out there.thank you.

    • Timothy
      Timothy Posted on January 28, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      Wow.hadnleg pain.called VA clinic.they said blood clots.xray confirmednit.was rushedn2 haspital.doc operated an removed a 6 inch blk plug from my left leg.9months later i wouldnt heal.was on pain killer n it didnt help so i decided to have it ampuated below left more pain.prothedic helps me walk. N. bike.

  2. Diane
    Diane Posted on February 20, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Just out of curiosity…. I share your same story from a year and a half ago….. One dr suggested a hematologist but my internist says it is not necessary. Do you or anyone else out there see one?

    • Claudia
      Claudia Posted on February 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Diane, I see a physician who is an oncologist/hematolgist which makes perfect sense to me. Briefly to save my typing finger (lol). 5 months ago I was minding my own business and suddenly found myself unconscious & in the hospital. It was determined I had a blood clot in my leg. Treatment began with blood thinners and after a week or so I was transferred to convalescent care. Two days later I detected a large swelling (looked like I pasted a grapefruit to my leg) to the left side of my rt knee. It was hot, red & so PAINFUL I wanted to escape. This was in the middle of the night. Of course nothing could be done until morning, if I survived the pain, lol. Meds did not help. Finally an ambulance arrived to transport me back to hospital. As they were transferring me from bed to gurney, my leg (with clot) lightly brushed the bedding…this clot erupted, exploded whatever, but fell out of my leg, hit the floor and exploded upward & outward. The poor paramedic at the end of the gurney was stunned and covered in blood. There was blood on the walls, ceiling, floor, everywhere. All the medical personnel were stunned into silence and I erupted into gales of laughter because of the most unbelievable feeling of relief I have ever felt when that damn thing decided to explode! Needless to say, was rushed to hospital and after all was said and done, this was my reality: 4 DVT’s in rt leg until one decided to dislodge and travel to my rt lung and become a PE. A stent/filter was placed in my vena cava to prevent little visitors traveling. The other two had to be surgically removed. The one that fell out of my leg left a wound that was 6 1/2 inches deep and the entire wound after surgery & debreeding every other day measured over 40″ long. They were not sure I would survive but if I did they weren’t sure what my leg would resemble. They were positive skin grafts were necessary since my tissue was gone to the 4th level. Not only was I trying to survive these nasty things but I was going to be scarred for life. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Drs told me they believed the under lying cause of all my misery was….leukemia. Yup. Leukemia. My brain overloaded. I think it was just a bit much for me. Have seen a oncologist/hematolgist & will see her again in a month and schedule a bone marrow biopsy to try and achieve some decisive answers.Finally got to a point where you say, one day at a time. It will all will out, one way or another. My life is in God’s hands……I’m just a long for the ride, lol….Hang in there, there’s also another unbelievable great site called I referr to it as Facebook for Cancer survivors. God bless us all…

    • Edlin
      Edlin Posted on March 4, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      I had a bilateral pulmonary embolism almost a year ago, and it’s felt like an emotional roller coaster. I was referred to a pulmonary doctor, and some blood work was done and I tested positive for a genetic mutation. She told me to go to a cardiologist, and she was going to put me on blood thinner for the rest of my life, but I am only 25. She referred me to Dr. Kessler at Georgetown’s Lombardi Cancer Center. He has run blood work and for now I’m only taking an aspirin daily, but have to take Lovenox if I travel more than 5 hrs. I believe it’s comforting to be informed and make sure your body is okay and seeing a hematologist will give you a peace of mind.

  3. Pam Manning
    Pam Manning Posted on February 21, 2014 at 12:42 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story….I had a bilateral pulmonary embolism in December….I had been sick for months prior…..It was a very difficult situation…..I would spare you the details but my reason for replying is your share.
    I have had such emotional turmoil……the same feelings of being out of breath when I am not….I can’t seem to emotionally deal with the residuals of what happened……I know I am doing everything asked of me. I am walking, I am trying to increase my lung capacity…..But I will get so upset that I literally have panic attacks.
    My doctors seem to think it is a joke more or less and just prescribe Wellbutrin and just keep it moving. I am glad SOMEONE gives me belief that what I feel is real and others have felt it too.
    And for that I thank you!!!!!!

  4. Lesa Craig
    Lesa Craig Posted on February 24, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Thank you, Mike, for sharing! I just found this site & am so glad for your story. I had DVT & 2 PE’s with tissue damage about 7 years ago. They thought car accident caused it, so they took me off Warafin after 6 months. It was a very frightening experience, nightmares about not being able to breath, & I have gone to ER several times to be sent home with bronchitis, though I thought it was a PE. Ironically, I went in my doctor with what I thought was bronchitis again last May, was diagnosed with bronchitis, and 4 days later woke early in the morning coughing up blood. Immediately went to ER & had another PE with pleurisy, more lung tissue damage, & very, very low B12 levels. Now they will probably keep me on blood thinners & B12 shots for the rest of my life. No genetic traits, possible boarder line protein c deficiency.
    I lost a lot of friends & even some of my family did not understand the emotional toll these clots have taken on me. Thank you for letting me know that others suffer emotionally from these experiences!

  5. Lesa Craig
    Lesa Craig Posted on February 24, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Diane, after my second episode in May, they brought a hematologist in while I was hospitalized. I have been seeing him ever since. He & his office staff are very understanding & willing to work with me & help me with the physical as well as the emotional problems. I was a long distance runner 7 years ago, daily, now I barely can do 3 miles once or twice a week. I’m Sluggish, don’t move as much, & have gained 30 lbs. they are working with my diet, monitoring me every two weeks, & adjusting dosage as needed. My regular doctor didn’t take it seriously the first episode, thankfully, the hematologist takes it very seriously!

  6. Claudia
    Claudia Posted on February 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    P. S. The area on my leg where the clots were was so awful, the Drs felt skin grafts were my only hope because they were certain the skin would never re-grow. Ha! Fools! Not only did it grow back COMPLETELY, it’s a very lovely pink color!

  7. Marc
    Marc Posted on March 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I am a very active 41 yr old male. I suffered a leg injury in a Soccer game approximately 1.5 yrs ago. What’s strange is that I cannot remember a specific foul or event that would explain me getting hurt. Nevertheless, I ended up with pain and swelling in my ankle. There was also pain in my quadricep. I thought it was just a standard typical injury as these things have happened in the past. I was in so much pain I could barely walk. I eventually went to my primary care doctor with these list of symptoms. He prescribed me “water pills” and sent me on my way. Months went on by. The pain and function of my leg came back but my ankle was swollen for months. I remember going to an Urgent Care facility and they really didn’t seem to concerned either and sent me on my way. Eventually, I went to get a 2nd opinion with a Rehab/Sports Doctor on the urging of my family and co-workers. She immediately ordered me to a Dopler Test and a DVT was discovered. I had a clot from my ankle up to my groin and it was huge! How it didn’t break off and travel to other parts of my body God only knows! I had resumed working out and playing soccer even though I had this strange swollen ankle. I was hospitalized for one night and given Heparin then released with Lovenox injections. The Neuro-surgeon at the hospital visited me in my room and said he was very surprised to meet me (because I should be dead)! I had been placed on Warfarin for 6 mos. Eventually I was let go but I got another DVT a few months later (same leg). Now, I am on blood thinners for life supposedly. I wear a knee high compression sock. I have been battling ulcers on my ankle as a result of PTS. Its very frustrating all of this but what’s the alternative! When I beat these skin ulcers I will be happy because my leg is a little discolored around the ankle but that’s about it. I run. I do weights. I play Soccer (although not on a higher competitive level). I am currently on Xarelto and really like it b/c there are no blood tests or dietary restrictions.

  8. Marc
    Marc Posted on March 10, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Does anyone know if I can get off of blood thinners?
    My nurse neighbor gave me an earful and told me that there is no reason I should be on them.
    I could have another underlying condition in my leg that is causing the DVT’s. She is going to give me a referral hopefully to some other doctor. I am so frustrated to whom I should be listening to or trusting in this whole ordeal. Had I listened to my PC I would be dead right now.

    • Ken
      Ken Posted on January 31, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      I’d take the appointment and see what happens.

  9. Dan
    Dan Posted on March 21, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I suffered a bilateral PE last September from a right calf DVT caused by a hockey puck in May. The September diagnosis was pleurisy, with the PE missed by the Emerg doctor. Symptoms abated during October until the bilateral PE was diagnosed in November when I couldn’t catch my breath. A second 1-month recovery ensued.

    I’ve seen 2 hematologists, one of whom says it’s a provoked DVT and I’ll be okay to go off Warfarinafter 6-12 months, the other feels it’s unprovoked and wants me to stay on it for life. My blood tests came out negative for disorders.

    I’m not sure what to do. I feel like one of the 70% who will never have a reoccurence of DVT/PE.
    I’m a healthy and physically active 46 year old.

  10. Jason
    Jason Posted on July 17, 2014 at 4:57 am

    Marc, Mike et al,

    I know what you speak of. I am a 31 yr old and have gone through 2 bouts of clotting in roughly 3 years. My first one was ankle to groin and nearly cost me my life, two years after i had massive bilateral clotting in my lungs should have died there as well but i did not. Do not be afraid to talk to doctors about your fears, if you dont voice them, then realistically you rob yourself of a voice. If you are concerned about a clotting issue do not allow a doc to take you off it unless you are 100% comfortable. Ideally a doc that would say you don’t need warfarin etc, after having issues/recurrent issues does not deserve to be your doctor. I have a greenfield filter in, and if I had a huge concern about clotting I would definitely be calling my doc to ask for testing, not listening to them telling me I don’t need anti-coagulation therapy. You are your own voice, i wish you all the best of luck!

  11. Georgia Hall
    Georgia Hall Posted on March 6, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    My son, Tyler, is an 18 year old Senior in high school. He was just taken off of the blood thinner, Lovenox, 2 days ago. He has been taking injections twice a day for nearly 8 months. July 11, 2014, I took him to the E.R. for severe chest pain & inability to catch his breath. They did the first d-dimer test & came back & said they need to perform a new d-dimer test, because the first one came back a little off. I asked what it could be & the nurse said it’s probably nothing. He said best case scenario was the test just came back with unusual readings & he said the very worst case would be indication of a blood clot. Well after the d-dimer & the cat scan,
    I heard his E.R. doctor on the phone talking & saying that he needed to get Emergency transport to a hospital in a much larger town. He said he needed to make arrangements for a room for a 17 year old boy who needs to be in the Pediatric I.C.U. I still had no idea what was going on, but knew he was talking about my son because he’s the only 17 year old in the small E.R. After about 15 minutes the doctor came in & told me & my son that he has 3 blood clots on his left lung & 2 clots in his right lung. Tyler asked him if he was going to die. The doctor was very insensitive & simply said “you’re probably not gonna die.” Then he left the room & we never saw that Dr. again.
    Tyler got transported in an ambulance to a hospital in a city 35 miles away. I couldn’t ride with him & ran home to pick up his Dad. That day in the P.I.C.U. the Dr. took my husband & me into the hallway & told us that this is a very serious situation & told us to realize that there’s a very real chance that my son could die. Hit us like a ton of bricks. They put us up in the Ronald McDonald House, so one of us could be at the hospital & we both could be there close.
    They looked for every possible cause & never found any causes for the Bilateral P.E.’s . They did however find out that his thyroid doesn’t work right & he was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease during his hospital stay. He was released from the hospital after 6 days in ICU. He’s had so many fears that he could really use the advice & help from anyone that has ever been in his situation. This has really messed up his plans for his future, as he was scheduled to go to MEPs the week after he was dismissed from the hospital. He had planned to join the military after graduation, he’s been informed that this is no longer possible, as it’s considered a blood disorder/ pre-existing condition.
    With just getting taken off the blood thinners he’s more scared than ever that they will return. I wish there was something I could say that would help him to not be so afraid, but I’m a little worried as well.
    His hematologist/oncologist has told us that he is to get clots again that the blood thinners will have to be a life long treatment. I wish they could tell us something at least, so we would know how he got them to begin with. They said it’s extremely rare for this to ever happen to teenage boys. If anybody could help him find another person in his age group to talk to about this, I think it would help his mental well-being immensely.
    Thanks for letting me ramble on.

  12. Susie
    Susie Posted on May 9, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I’ve had a bilateral PE 2 yrs ago and thankfully survived. I just got out of a 15 day hospital stay with blood clots from my ankles up to my thigh and up to the IVF filter. They (internist and vascular surgeon) used heperin IV then TPA directly into the back of the knee, then more heperin IV (3 ICU days.) I was discharged and was told there was nothing I can do about now having enormous swelling in my legs, thighs, & abdomen. About 6 mos after my PE I was taken off blood thinners-but the filter was left in. I’m now being told by one nurse who has gone through a similar experience in that the IVF filter is causing the swelling and it should’ve been taken or or I should’ve . My doctors still say it can stay in forever, but nothing I’ve found in reading sites like these support this-so I’m not sure what to do. So I’m not sure where to go or what to do. and I’m in immense pain. Any advice?

  13. Patty
    Patty Posted on October 11, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I am recovering from bilateral emboli after a cervical fusion. I am 56. (My dad died unexpectedly at 63 of a PE after surgery in 1990). I didn’t know I was so sick and by the time I went to the ER they had already passed through the heart and into the lungs. Amazing my poor asthmatic lungs with obstructive lung disease could handle the clots!
    I just feel so grateful to have survived! Waiting for the initial genetic tests to come back and seeing a hematologist next week. I have two sons and a grandbaby on the way so I want to make sure they are not at risk.
    I am fatigued after just a few hours of being up and about but I am okay with that as I know I will eventually get better.
    Best wishes to all!

  14. Ken
    Ken Posted on January 31, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. My story is very similar except that I had a massive PE right out of the gate. I’m currently looking at xarelto as a possible medication as it is recommended that I take lifelong anticoagulaton. Best of luck in your adventure!

  15. Cynthia
    Cynthia Posted on April 16, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Thank you for sharing! I was diagnosed with a Pulmonary Embolism in October 2015. I was on Warfarin for six months and Hematology stopped the Warfarin for the one month in order to run test. He has me taking an aspirin per day until testing. I am very scared that while I am not on the blood thinner my PE may come back.

  16. Maureen
    Maureen Posted on July 1, 2016 at 4:08 am

    I am glad to hear that all of you survived such a dangerous situation. My husband has had a number of blood clots over the past 15 years. He has experience all the symptoms you have described. Fortunately he has gotten to the hospital in time. He has done all the genetic testing and it has been determined that it is not hereditary. Three years ago our 26 year old daughter passed away from a massive blood clot. She had a knee injury. Was seen by two doctors but none made her aware to pay attention if she experienced the symptoms. She thought her breathlessness was a cold coming on. She was not living at home at the time so we never realized what was going on. I understand your concerns about coming off of the medications. My husband was on Xeralta for 21/2 years when he had the latest episode. We are scared like all of you about having to be on a blood thinner for life. Or not taking them and never knowing if this is going to happen again. Our other children are very hyper sensitive to even small changes in their health now. It does wreak havoc on everyone’s emotions having the uncertainty of it all.