My Low Potassium Was Actually a DVT: Beverly’s Story

My Low Potassium Was Actually a DVT: Beverly’s Story

I learned about NBCA in a brochure that was in my doctor’s office at the University of North Carolina, and wanted to share my story.

I woke up one morning recently, and noticed that my left leg was swollen, and also felt pain in back of it, so much so that it felt as if my leg muscle was ripping apart.  At first, I thought that I either pulled or sprained a muscle in my leg.  I soaked my leg in warm water, and even tried to see whether the pain and swelling would go down if I put ice on it.  Neither ice nor heat worked.

When nothing changed after about three days, I finally made an appointment to see a doctor. The doctor told me that my potassium was low and that was the reason for my symptoms. Therefore, she prescribed potassium pills and told me to drink plenty of orange juice.  The doctor also sent me to the lab for some blood tests.

The nurse called me a few days later to say that my potassium was low, so that I should  continue to take my potassium pills and drink orange juice.  The nurse told me that the doctor wanted to see me again in one month. I trusted that the diagnosis of low potassium was correct.  However, I was almost dead before the month was up.

As it turned out, my “low potassium” was actually a blood clot in my leg that made its way to my lungs.  I spent a week in the hospital for treatment.  I hope my story of a “missed diagnosis” will help someone out there who has similar symptoms in their leg.

Keep in mind that swelling and leg pain (as well as red or blue skin discoloration and warmth at the site) may mean that you have a leg clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and it often feels like a pulled muscle.  If you ever go to the doctor with any of these symptoms, ask about the possibility of a DVT, and whether an ultrasound is indicated, since it could save your life!

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