A Clot at 19 Years Old: Ashley Graves’ Blood Clot Story

A Clot at 19 Years Old: Ashley Graves’ Blood Clot Story

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 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.


As any teenager does, I struggled with the insecurities of acne. After exhausting many acne clearing options, I decided to see my doctor about it. When I went to see my doctor, I brought up the fact that I knew other girls who were on birth control for their acne and I wanted to try the same thing. My doctor put me on estrogen-based birth control in February 2014.

Two months after I started taking the pills, I began to not feel very well. I was sitting down with my mom and my sister one Sunday afternoon, and they noticed my breathing was very loud. My sister suggested that I go to urgent care because it didn’t sound right.

I arrived at urgent care and the nurse said my lungs sounded clear. The nurse asked me if I was a smoker or an athlete, and I told her I was neither. She told me that it could possibly be a pulmonary embolism or blood clot in my lung. I had no clue what a pulmonary embolism was. Next, the urgent care sent me to get an EKG and my heart was beating faster than normal. The nurse told me it was best I go to the hospital as soon as I could, but of course, with me being stubborn and afraid, I chose not to go. Instead, I went home and called my doctor the next day to get an appointment.

At the appointment, my doctor drew my blood and said it sounded like I was anemic so I went home and rested. The next day, I got a text from my mom saying I needed to get a CT Scan done immediately. I went to the doctor’s office to get the scan done and waited for my results in the waiting room. Before I could get my results, my mom got a call from my doctor saying to come upstairs from the radiology department to the office because it was important.

When I got upstairs, my doctor was standing by the door waiting for me. We went into a room and she closed the door behind her. She told me that my CT Scan showed that I had a saddle pulmonary embolism and I needed to get to the emergency room immediately. I wasn’t allowed to pack my stuff from home. I went to the hospital straight from the doctor’s office.

When I arrived at the hospital, they started intravenous administration of a blood thinning medication and also hooked me up to a heart monitor. I was in the hospital for six days until my INR levels were therapeutic. I was on warfarin for six months until the blood clots dissolved. I had a Factor V Leiden test performed after I was no longer taking blood thinners and it came back negative.

I have no genetic blood disorders, but my body could not handle the level of estrogen in the birth control pills I was taking. My clot changed my life. Now, I live life everyday thankful to be alive. I take nothing and no one for granted. By the grace of God, I am not on any blood thinners and I have no permanent lung damage. My symptoms were not very clear, but I now try to educate other people so they know the signs of blood clots.

My advice to other people who have survived a blood clot or who currently have one is: Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out by a medical professional, no matter how silly you may feel, because it could save your life. I’m proud to be a DVT/PE survivor and without the grace of God and my family, I wouldn’t have made it through.


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To learn more about risk factors for blood clots, please click here.
To learn more about signs and symptoms of blood clots, please click here.
To learn more about blood clot risks when taking estrogen-based birth control, please click here.
The personal story 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 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.
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