On Sunday, August 9, 2015, after two weeks of pain in my right leg that felt like a strained muscle, I finally went to an urgent care facility. The doctor looked at my calf and stated that it should not have been swollen for two weeks from a muscle strain. She was very clear that I needed to go straight to the ER to have an ultrasound done to check for possible blood clots. I followed her advice and spent two hours at the ER only to be told that there were small clots on the superficial veins of my calf muscle. “They aren’t travelers,” I was told. I was given a pain medication and sent home.
The following day, I went to work as usual, propping my leg when I could because of the “muscle pain.” Late that afternoon, my heart began pounding high in my chest. I had no pain and no shortness of breath. I felt like I was experiencing a panic attack, which I have previously experienced (for me, they are about as much fun as a PE). I called my mom who is a retired nurse and she came to my office to sit with me. After a little bit, I ended up going home tired and feeling like I just needed to take a nap. My heart rate was still slightly elevated and I still had pounding in my chest, but I was soon able to sleep, perhaps with the help of my prescription anti-anxiety medication.
Tuesday morning, I woke up with the same pounding in my chest and called my mom. She told me to get to the ER at once. She met me there with my husband and my 11-year-old son. The ER did an EKG and immediately after that, I was whisked away for a CT scan. I had two blood clots in my lungs – the culprits of my pain and racing heart. I had a blood clot in each lung, the right one was large.
Fast forward through ten hellish days in the hospital. While there, I endured endless hours of being poked for INR checks, sleepless nights, terrible pain in my right lung, pneumonia, and even countless prayers for my life to just end, because I was so miserable. I left the hospital with a deteriorated section of my right lung, a strict warning about taking my warfarin as instructed, and follow-up paperwork on how I was going to pay the bills.
My doctor was convinced that the birth control that I had been on for more than five or six years was most likely the factor. My new doctor has ordered blood work to test for a possible blood disorder. I am no longer taking any birth control.
I can tell you that not a day goes by that I don’t wonder if and when I will have another blood clot. It has changed my life dramatically. Tuesday, July 12, 2016, is nearly one year after my blood clot and that day still haunts me. I can tell you that the next time my leg hurts for more than two minutes, I won’t hesitate to get it checked out.