My name is Ashley, and I was diagnosed with factor V Leiden, protein S deficiency, and protein C deficiency in March 2017. I was a waitress at the time, and I had just torn my shoulder due to a weight lifting accident. So, I started running outside a lot to stay active before I had my shoulder surgery. After I went on a run one day I had severe pain in my calf, which I thought was due to a pulled muscle. I could barely walk at work, but I figured it would go away in a couple days.
The pain did go away, but I later found out it was because a blood clot had moved from my calf to my hip at that point. I had my shoulder surgery and a week later, I had surgery on my gums. I didn’t want to take off work for very long, so I scheduled them back to back. I have a high pain tolerance, so I wasn’t worried about it. The day after my gum surgery, I was extremely dizzy and collapsed on the floor. Shortly after that, I had chest pain, and I had a hard time laying down without gasping for breath.
I’m stubborn, so I thought it was just fluid in my lungs, and it would go away in a couple days. After the fourth day, I couldn’t stand the pain anymore and went to the ER. The ER doctor did not think it was a blood clot but ran a bunch of tests. None of them came back positive for a clot. Luckily, my mom works in the hospital as a clinical tech and asked him to run a CT scan before we left. He came back shocked to see four blood clots in my heart and lungs.
I was immediately admitted to the hospital and given a heparin blood thinner, as well as pain medication to help with the pain. The nurses and doctors were all surprised to see a young, active 24-year-old in the hospital for blood clots. My hematologist determined the blood clot was due to a recent change in my birth control pills, but also because of my genetic clotting conditions. I will have to be on blood thinners for the rest of my life.
This diagnosis has completely changed my outlook on life. I don’t take anything for granted and I am thankful for every day. You don’t think about the end of your life at 24 years old. My advice to anyone with these clotting conditions is to do your own research, stay active, and listen to your body. It may not feel like you have much control over the diagnosis, but you do have control over taking all the steps you can to prevent blood clots in the future.