In April 2021, my arm started hurting. I went to a walk-in clinic and they told me I had heartburn. I was prescribed a heartburn relief drink and went home.
The next day, my arm was still killing me, but then the pain moved into my chest. That scared me enough to go to the emergency room.
Troponins, which are proteins found in the heart muscles, were extremely elevated in my blood, but the hospital wasn’t able to help. I was transferred to a bigger hospital, where a blood clot was found in my lung (pulmonary embolism) and I was prescribed apixaban.
I had been on apixaban for about three months when the pain started again when I was 800 miles from home in South Dakota for vacation. At the hospital, my troponins were elevated again, but this tiny town couldn’t handle my case, so I was transferred to a larger hospital. They couldn’t find anything wrong. They performed a cardiac catheterization and sent me off with more medication.
The pain started again the following month. This time I drove to the larger hospital first. They found pulmonary emboli in the same lung. Apixaban didn’t help, so I was prescribed warfarin and referred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
In October 2021, doctors at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed me with antiphospholipid syndrome, among other things. I have to be on warfarin for life at 26. I still frequent Mayo, as they are still finding answers for my condition.
I didn’t have any risk factors leading up to this. I haven’t been able to teach for a year since my blood clot, and I continue to have issues. I’m on more medications than my grandmother, and all have their fun little side effects.
I’ve learned so much about myself, but I still have so many questions. Reading articles and following the Stop the Clot Facebook page has helped me better understand my condition. I’m still learning that it’s okay to give yourself a break.