A Mostly Positive Impact – Cam McIntyre’s Story

Categories: Patient Stories,Stories

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In early August 2015, after getting baMcIntyre, Cam Photock from a tour — I’m a military musician — I noticed that my right calf/ankle area was more sore than normal following a long walk I had taken. I waited. I did a squat or leg day workout on Monday, and noticed that my right leg was taking a while to recover. It had some impact on my strength and balance. I waited. By the time Friday hit, it hurt to walk on my right leg, so I made an appointment to see my doctor.

At the Doctor’s office, they weren’t sure what was wrong with my leg. My ankle/lower calf area was pretty swollen and it hurt to walk, but I didn’t remember hitting it. So, they did an X-ray to check for a fracture, and then as a precaution sent me to the lab to get some blood work. The Doc thought there was a very, very small chance I had a clot.

Fast forward to the middle of this same month, and I’m on a break from work. My phone starts to blow up with missed calls and voicemails from the Doc’s office saying, “Go to the ER as soon as you get this.” So, I let one of my supervisors know where I was going, and off to the ER I went for a series of blood tests, ultrasounds, screenings, and consultations. At the end of the day, I knew that I had at least one blood clot below the knee in my right calf, how to give myself injections, and was started on warfarin.

I met with a hematologist in October. Her opinion is that my clots — I learned I have two — were unprovoked. I travel a lot for work, but that isn’t a new thing. I’m active. I compete as a power lifter, do two to three 5k runs per year, and I’m in the military music program. I’m young at 29 years old. I have no family history of blood clots or blood disorders. After the meeting with the hematologist, my doctor settled on my treatment for the foreseeable future: Warfarin.  I opted against taking a different anticoagulant due to the physical nature of my job.

My medical team is awesome. It is split between the VA hospital and active duty clinics around the Great Lakes area. I know we hear a lot of bad stuff about the VA in the news, but the people working at my branch have all been awesome. I have the direct lines for my main doctor, two nurses, the anticoagulation clinic pharmacists, and then have the general Department of Defense Nurse Line, all programmed into my phone. The medical team has been great about answering questions, whether it is about side effects, diet/nutrition, or activities that I can/can’t do. The two ER Doc’s that I saw as well were friendly and very helpful

As far as the impact on my life, it has been mostly positive. I wear a medical alert dog tag. I eat a more consistent diet. I drink less beer. I use apps on my phone to track my INR as well as dose reminders. Overall, I’m more careful and healthy, while still doing the things that I love, often with just a few more safety precautions. The take home point for others is to listen to your body, if it doesn’t feel right, get it checked out.

I’ve yet to have a PE or other major complication. I know that I’m pretty early in this journey, but I’m going to make the best of it.

 

To learn more about the risk factors associated with blood clots, click here.

Author: SW

10 Responses to "A Mostly Positive Impact – Cam McIntyre’s Story"

  1. GCS
    GCS Posted on January 8, 2016 at 3:41 am

    May I ask what app you use for INR tracking?

  2. Cam
    Cam Posted on January 14, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Sorry for the delay, I use OAT Book. It’s a couple of bucks on the Itunes Store and I think there’s an Android version as well. The main function I use on it is the daily tracker/reminder. You hit the check mark in the box to indicate that you took your dose for the day.

    The other app I use is the alarm clock on my phone. I have an alarm set and labeled for the time that I take my pills every day. When I was on injections (bridge), I did the same thing for those.

  3. Eric Hochberg
    Eric Hochberg Posted on January 14, 2016 at 3:42 am

    All the best Cam. Rooting for ya.

  4. Marcia Phillips
    Marcia Phillips Posted on January 14, 2016 at 4:11 am

    Did they test you for clotting disorders like Factor V Leiden?

  5. Cam
    Cam Posted on January 15, 2016 at 1:33 am

    Eric, thanks man. It hasn’t been that bad, just an adjustment…it helps that I no longer live in the land amazing beer at my doorstep.

    Marcia-I’m not sure. I know that I’ve been tested for a lot, but I haven’t looked for that in the results. I’m planning on asking for a Factor V test as well as for testing for potential genetic causes.

  6. Cam
    Cam Posted on January 24, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Update for those following along at home, I’m waiting for the test results. I had around a dozen vials of blood drawn for testing, Factor V was on the list, as well as more genetic/DNA based testing.

  7. Cam
    Cam Posted on February 15, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Another update: APC Test came back positive for Factor V Leiden. I meet with the hematologist in about a week to discuss the result, if we’re going to do the DNA test, and the next couple of steps.

  8. Kim
    Kim Posted on February 21, 2016 at 3:26 am

    Hi Cam – I like your upbeat attitude. Listening to your body is key, as is being your own advocate.

    If the doctor’s haven’t already, I recommend having your doctor also test you for MTHFR which would slightly increase your risk for clotting. Do you know if you are Factor V Leiden (FVL) heterozygous or homozygous? (no need to reply) Hetero increases your risks slightly where homozygous increases it more. Six months after a DVT and I was no longer on warfarin – I found that a significant change in my diet or when I was sick (dehydrated) typically resulted in superficial clots. I am also VERY protective of my ankles – as a little bump often resulted in superficial clots – which sometime travelled up to a week later & became more painful clots.

    Thank you for your service!!! I wish you a successful & clot free future!!

  9. Cam
    Cam Posted on February 23, 2016 at 2:55 am

    Kim, thanks for the comments!

    I didn’t see a result for MTHFR. However, I have test results split between three systems (DOD, VA, and a civilian provider), and only have online access to one of them. The stack of paper work for the other two systems is the size of a small phone book.

    I got news today, that I have Factor V Leiden heterozygous. Current plan is warfarin for at least a year before exploring other options (he mentioned Xarelto). I’m planning on researching the pros/cons of the other anticoagulant treatment options out there, so when the times comes, I will be well informed. I’m mostly interested in side effects and reversal agents with regards to the newer medications.

    It sounds like I’m in the anticoagulants for life club. It doesn’t seem like the next forever will need that many adjustments from the last six months, at least as far as life style goes.

    My command (band) has been awesome with regards to working with me to minimize bruise risks, ensuring I can get the time to have appointments, and dealing with some of the lingering side effects.

  10. Cam
    Cam Posted on May 31, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    A brief update for those following along…

    All is well.

    My INR stabilized slightly higher once (2.7-2.8 compared to 2.1-2.2) I transferred to Rhode Island.

    My medical team (Main Doc, Hematologist, Clinical Pharmacist, the Nursing Teams) are great.

    About 9 months after initial diagnosis, I’ve found a sense of normalcy. My diet is on point (to combat weight gain…I’m on a slow loss now), fatigue is being managed (some days it is worse than others), and I have had minimal bruising-even with an INR of 2.8!

    The biggest thing that I have been doing is helping spread awareness. This site/organization has been a huge element of that. Great information, great people running it, and all of that stuff.