My Mental Health Has Suffered More Than My Physical Health: Denise’s Story

My Mental Health Has Suffered More Than My Physical Health: Denise’s Story

In May of 2019, I began experiencing a dry cough. It continued to progress to the point where I could no longer hold a conversation without coughing every four words or so.

I went to a family doctor who brushed it off as adult-onset asthma and allergies, gave me a chest X-ray, and sent me home with inhalers.

A couple of weeks later, my left leg started hurting. This time, I was the one who brushed it off because I was trying to deal with this ridiculous cough. But one day at work, I could not walk down the hallway. I was completely out of breath to the point where I was gasping for air and my leg gave out on me. I had to hold the wall for support.

Once back at my desk, I propped my leg up and it was purple and swollen. I drove myself to the ER, tossed my keys to the valet, and fell as I was walking into the ER lobby. Within an hour, a Doppler confirmed my entire femoral was completely blocked and I had no blood flow. I started heparin immediately.

About an hour later, it was confirmed with a CT scan that I had pulmonary emboli in both lungs that were “too many to count.” That statement will forever haunt me. I was 44 years old, had no life-threatening illnesses in my life, had never broken a bone, and had never been admitted to the hospital.

I knew the cause the second it was confirmed that it was a DVT. I started birth control pills two months prior, in March 2019. It took less than 60 days for those pills to almost kill me.

After my diagnosis, I read the literature provided by the NBCA. It was extremely helpful in understanding what happened to my body during my DVT and PEs. They don’t explain it in the hospital, they just treat and send you home. Finding support like the NBCA and support groups has been a godsend for me.

I am almost five years out and have post-thrombotic syndrome in my left leg, with two remaining chronic DVTs that span about four inches long from my mid-thigh to behind my knee. I am lucky to be alive.

This experience has, unfortunately, led me to develop panic attacks and illness anxiety order. It has caused more damage to my mental well-being than it did to my body. You can heal the body with medicine and time, but it’s much more difficult to heal the mind.


New Patient Resource Guide
Psychological Impact of Blood Clots
Post-Thrombotic Syndrome

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