Better Safe than Sorry: Gina’s Story

Better Safe than Sorry: Gina’s Story

My name is Gina and I am a 32-year-old mom of three children. On March 23, 2020, I gave birth to my third child. My husband and I had made the decision he would be our last, so I signed the consent forms for a tubal ligation several months prior. March was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and all elective procedures were canceled and, sadly, my tubal ligation was considered an elective procedure. My midwife gave me a birth control patch as a temporary solution. I wasn’t thinking about blood clots as a side effect since I do not smoke, am not overweight, and do not have any underlying medical conditions.

On May 3rd, I woke up with a very painful and purple leg. I thought maybe it was a simple pinched nerve, so I went to the ER. I was admitted for three days with a blood clot in my left leg. I was on a heparin drip and then sent home on a blood thinner or anticoagulant medication. My leg pain was getting progressively worse and, on May 10, I started feeling chest pains. My husband took me to a different hospital where I was told the blood clot in my leg was extremely extensive, and that I had multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms (PE), or blood clots in my lungs. I was devastated and so scared. I was admitted to the hospital for just over a week. I spent four of those days in intensive care following a filter placement and a thrombectomy. We live in Florida, so my husband flew my mom down from New York to help out with the kids and my care while he worked. My family was and still is my biggest support system, and I don’t know how I would have managed without them.

After leaving the hospital, I followed up with my hematologist who ran more tests to look for additional reasons for my clot. I have a genetic blood disorder, called prothrombin gene mutation, that was triggered by my hormonal birth control. I’ve had this my entire life and I never knew. I am now on blood thinners indefinitely and will need to get my girls tested for this disorder prior to starting any hormonal birth control. I found myself in several online support groups, and it has helped tremendously to talk to people who have experienced the same thing as I have. I’m so very lucky and so blessed to still be here for my children.

I now urge everyone to educate themselves about the signs and symptoms of blood clots and do not take them lightly. There is a reason pulmonary embolism has been named a ‘silent killer.’ Get checked out, because it is better to be safe than sorry!

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