When I was eight months pregnant, my grandmother passed away. My blood pressure began to spike, and I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension.
I ended up being induced at 37 weeks in order to keep the baby safe. The night I delivered my daughter, my dad went into cardiac arrest. He passed away a week later.
Two weeks later, I noticed my left ankle was incredibly swollen as I played with my eldest daughter. Both my feet were very swollen during pregnancy, but now it was only one leg.
The night before, I had felt a pulling pain near my hip. I thought it was a postpartum recovery symptom. I Googled “postpartum hip pain leg swollen,” and information about blood clots came up. I quickly called the advice nurse, but since it was during the Omicron surge, it took me two hours to get through to someone.
When I finally talked to a nurse, they told me to go to the ER. I thought I would only be a few hours. I said goodbye to my husband, my 3-week-old, and my 4-year-old daughters and drove myself to the ER. I could barely lift my leg and it felt like I had done a million squats.
The ultrasound tech told me I had extensive clots in my pelvis and left leg (deep vein thrombosis). My doctor said the clot was too big to send me home with anticoagulants. I had to be admitted to the hospital for a thrombectomy (surgical procedure to remove blood clots). Before they put me under, I remember praying to my dad and my grandma, asking them to keep me safe so I could go home to my kids. The doctor was able to remove all the clots, and a few days later, I went home feeling as good as new.
Over time, I developed pain in my leg again. I found out that the valves in my veins were damaged, so now I have reflux in them. I am a dance teacher, so it has been difficult to manage the pain in my leg without giving up my passion.
Although I had no family history of blood clots, I learned I have factor v Leiden heterozygous, or one inherited gene. My clots were provoked by pregnancy/postpartum, bed rest, dehydration, gestational hypertension, and COVID during pregnancy.
I now drink a gallon of water daily, get up and move every hour, and wear compression socks to manage pain. I walk 30 minutes each day and never take a second of life for granted. If I fly or have surgery, I will need prophylaxis anticoagulants to prevent another clot.
I’ve learned that knowledge is power. My clots could have been prevented if I had known more about the risk factors, such as my genetic predisposition. The Stop the Clot® Facebook group has been so supportive as I try to navigate this.
If you recently experienced a blood clot, it is totally normal for you to feel scared and traumatized. People will not understand what you went through, but your feelings are valid. Things will gradually improve. You will learn to live with your new normal.