I was 41 years old when I was headed in for a right knee meniscus repair on September 25, 2019. I had a similar repair done on my left knee in June of 2016. As a machinist and mechanic, I have always had to rely on my knees to push through the days. The physical nature of my work, along with being an avid runner and cyclist, created the need for this most recent surgery. I had an issue with superficial clots in my right leg from ankle injuries previously, and I was a little bit concerned about getting them again, but I had the surgery to repair my right medial meniscus, and everything went great.
After the procedure, I wore compression stockings, kept my feet elevated, used my cryocuff or cold compress, iced, and did my physical therapy exercises. I was hoping this meniscus repair would go as well as the last one. I had only been off from work for three weeks for the previous surgery, and I was back to running and biking within six weeks. Two weeks after the this time, though, I started to have serum drainage from the wound site, knee swelling, and a lot of pain in my calf. I pushed through, and my body seemed to adapt well enough to return to work after three weeks.
I made it three days at work before I scheduled an emergency visit with my doctor about potential blood clots. He didn’t seem to think that was it and put me on two medications to reduce the swelling and pain in my knee. I was also off from work for an additional three weeks. The swelling moved from my knee to my calf and ankle by week five, and I was wearing compression stockings all hours of the day. I tried everything. After a total of almost seven weeks off, things got a little bitter, and I returned to work. The pain let up, but the swelling, discoloration, and circulation issues remained.
In December, I noticed many enlarged veins and many smaller ones breaking out around my ankle. I also had major swelling, so I had my primary care doctor schedule an ultrasound, and I refused to take another round of anti-inflammatory medication. My body was telling me that I needed the “all clear” about blood clots. That decision probably saved my life.
Two days before Christmas, I had the ultrasound and was immediately told to go to the emergency room. Many large blood clots were found from my thigh to my ankle in my right leg. I was put on a high dosage of a direct oral anticoagulant for seven days, and then on a regular dose thereafter. I will be on an anticoagulant for at least a year, and I will have periodic imaging done to check on the blood clots. I’m much more aware that I can still bleed easily, and may still be at risk for having reoccurring clots. I now pay a lot more attention to the changes happening in my leg when it comes to swelling, pain, and discoloration.
If you think you may have a blood clot, you need to keep pushing your medical providers to investigate it. If you have surgery done, you need to realize that clotting is a big risk factor afterwards, and the signs and symptoms should not be put off. I hope that people can learn from my experience. Since I’ve been diagnosed, the personal stories I’ve read have helped me immensely, because I realize that I am not alone, there are many treatment options, and plenty of resources that can help me get through this.