During my first pregnancy at 15 years old, I started to have intense burning and numbness on my left side groin and hip region that my OB/GYN stated was normal pregnancy pain. After giving birth, I followed up with my primary doctor and neurologist. All of my doctor’s visits concluded with no diagnosis.
My second pregnancy caused the pain to intensify to the point that walking, sitting, and laying on my side were extremely painful. Again, my OB/GYN brushed off my concern, so I adjusted to the new level of pain and carried on with life. At this point, I knew something had to be wrong, but no one would listen to me.
When I was 26 years old, the pain started to spread down my left leg and within two days my leg muscles were hard as a rock and slightly swollen. I was unable to walk and my skin was sensitive to touch. The minor emergency clinic took an x-ray and diagnosed me with sciatica pain along my nerve. I was sent home with pain medication and muscle relaxers. After three days, my toes were blue, and my leg was swollen to twice its normal size. I knew this had to be more than a pinched nerve.
I made a trip to the ER and was finally given a Doppler scan to check for a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clot in my leg. They discovered a massive blood clot from my belly button to my ankle and rushed me two hours away to the nearest hospital that could help me. I vividly remember coming off pain medication just long enough to say goodbye to my family right before going in for surgery. My situation was very serious. Thankfully, I managed to make it home after a week of recovering from my unsuccessful catheter-directed thrombolysis.
I was finally tested for clotting disorders and was diagnosed as homozygous for factor V Leiden, or FVL. I was one of the lucky ones, to have a blood clot growing for so long, have two successful pregnancies, and live to tell the tale. I see it as my duty and my payment for this second chance at life to spread awareness. Understand all of the risk factors and know your family’s medical history. Knowing this information could save your life or the life of a loved one.