My first issue with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) began in November of 2022. My family and I went on a five-hour road trip to Disneyland. A week after returning home, I began to develop a charley horse cramp in my right calf.
I assumed I had pulled a muscle somehow. I tried massage and heat, but after three days, I could barely walk. I made a telephone appointment with my doctor, who immediately ordered an ultrasound. I knew something was wrong when the technician stepped away and returned with a wheelchair.
He said I had a large blood clot behind my knee. I was transferred to the emergency room, where I was prescribed an anticoagulant and told I would need to be on an anticoagulant for the foreseeable future. I began my medication and carried on with my life.
Fast forward a few months to January 2023. I woke up one morning with my right leg extremely swollen. I thought maybe the previous blood clot was causing this, so I tried to ignore it despite the growing pain I was feeling. I also started noticing that I was extremely short of breath.
Just to be safe, I made a telephone appointment with my doctor. She ordered an x-ray and EKG and told me everything looked normal. Although I told her my shortness of breath was extreme, she attributed it to my recent weight gain.
I struggled for two more days before going to urgent care. The doctor informed me that he was very worried and suspected that I had a pulmonary embolism. I was sent immediately for a CT scan.
Results came back almost immediately. Not only did I have large blood clots in both of my lungs (PEs), but I also had a large clot in the artery crossing in the middle, or a saddle PE.
I was transferred to the ER and connected to heart and oxygen monitors along with IVs placed in both arms. The ER doctor told me he was glad that I came in when I did.
I was admitted to the hospital and placed on a continuous heparin drip for 72 hours. This was followed by a triple dose of warfarin and enoxaparin shots in my stomach every 12 hours.
I’m not aware of any risk factors that might have contributed to this. I am still struggling to grasp the severity of what the outcome could have been. My primary care doctor told me she was shocked when she saw my diagnosis and that I was lucky to be alive.
My experience has taught me that self-care is so important and even if it turns out to be nothing, listen to your body and seek care when something seems off. I have learned to focus on my health and well-being. Life is so precious and can end in an instant.