I woke up one morning with a slight twinge in my left side. I didn’t think much of it, though. I took some Advil and continued on with my day.
Despite my discomfort, I went on a hike with my boyfriend. After we got back, my side was bothering me a bit more. I figured I must have pulled a muscle. That night, the pain continued to get worse — it felt like I had a charley horse from my hip all the way up to my neck.
Finally, at midnight, I decided I needed to get to the hospital. I told the ER nurses my symptoms and they said it looked like a pulled muscle, but they did a CT scan of my chest to make sure it wasn’t anything worse.
I distinctly remember the doctor coming up to me and saying, “Looks like you have a PE.” I had no idea what that was. He explained that I had multiple blood clots in my lungs and that I was being admitted to the hospital. I was put on a blood thinner and given more Advil for the pain at first, but it didn’t help, so I was given a stronger pain medication.
I was sent home the next day. I took my pain medication for about two weeks and the blood thinners for six months. Soon after my diagnosis, I met with a hematologist, who told me I have the factor V Leiden blood clotting disorder. It’s believed that this and my estrogen-based birth control led to the blood clots. My brother tested positive for factor V Leiden, too.
Even though this was a scary situation, I am very grateful for my blood clots. It truly changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. Physically, this situation was hard, but it really took a toll on my mental health. Soon after the blood clots, I struggled with depression and extreme anxiety. I am proud to say I have these under control now. Every year, I celebrate my clotiversary. I take pride in what I’ve gone through.