I woke up one morning in 1978 to find that my right leg was swollen to twice its size. I called my doctor, who told me to come in immediately. He pressed his thumb into my ankle and created a ½-inch dent to show me how swollen I was and sent me to the hospital.
I had three clots in my legs, or deep vein thrombosis. Back then, they kept you hospitalized for a week while monitoring the heparin, then they sent you home with warfarin. I stayed on warfarin for 90 days. It was believed that a minor car crash the week before was the catalyst for the clot.
I’m not the only person in my family to have experienced blood clots. Five years ago, my sister developed clots in her lungs (pulmonary emboli) and underwent testing for genetic clotting disorders. She was positive for factor V Leiden, prompting the rest of the family to get tested. Another sister and I also tested positive for factor V Leiden.
Forty-five years later, in May of 2023, I developed clots again. Now I am on apixaban for life.
Since my first occurrence, the only pain I’ve had is the soreness from the leg swelling. I’m lucky and grateful there is better detection and meds nowadays.
I discovered that water aerobics is the best thing for keeping the swelling down. The combination of exercise and compression from the water works wonders.