Lisa Thomas is Mrs. Rosemount and is a contestant in the Mrs. Minnesota pageant. She is using her pageant platform to promote awareness about risk of blood clots, because she is a survivor of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and wants to use the pageant microphone to help Stop The Clot.
My name is Lisa Thomas, and I remember clearly the day that my blood clot story began, since it was the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the day the Twin Towers fell. My story begins with a fall as well. I slipped on a painted cement floor as I was leaving a restaurant after meeting my husband for lunch. The fall caused a pull in the hamstring of my left leg, and the pull was so severe that I could barely walk, and ultimately needed to use crutches. My husband took me to Urgent Care, I followed up with my doctor as instructed, and began the prescribed physical therapy.
At that time, I worked as a learning development consultant in a health insurance company, so was flooded with medical information every day. I tried to limit myself to three essential questions at all my doctor appointments, because I believe in what is called the “Ask me three” protocol. The one question I didn’t ask was about complications, because I never expected any complications from a pulled muscle. I expected the deep purple bruising and swelling from my waist to my calf. What startled me was the swelling I noticed in my foot and ankle that were not injured in the fall.
I went back to Urgent Care, where the doctor requested an ultrasound and mentioned the possibility of a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis/DVT). After the ultrasound, the technician said she was very glad I came in. I was puzzled by her comment, because I was unaware of anything serious at that moment. However, the doctor confirmed a blood clot, and ordered low molecular weight heparin injections for 10 days to treat the DVT, after which I was put on warfarin for nine months. He advised me to go to an ER immediately if I had any problems breathing. I had one episode of shortness of breath which was thankfully due to my asthma rather than a pulmonary embolism (PE). Tests for genetic blood clotting disorders were all negative.
I was still on crutches when I returned to work. A student in one of my health insurance classes told me that her boyfriend’s mother died when a DVT formed after she broke her leg, and the clot traveled to her lungs as a PE. An employee experienced shortness of breath, and ended up collapsing in the shower. She was rushed to the hospital, and was found to have a PE. She later learned she had an inherited clotting disorder and is on blood thinners (anti-clotting medication) for the rest of her life.
I feel very fortunate to be alive and in good health at this time. Had my shortness of breath been a fatal PE, I could have missed the birth of my grandson and the joy he adds to my life. I am competing in the Mrs. Minnesota International pageant this month, where each contestant selects a platform to promote. I chose to support the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA), even though I work with other volunteer organizations. The NBCA mission is advancing prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of blood clots, clotting disorders and clot-provoked strokes through public awareness, advocacy and patient and professional education, summarized simply in their Stop The Clot phrase that I am including in my platform.
My platform is, “Are you at risk? Educating to save lives, Stop The Clot” Every opportunity I have, I tell my story to others. Either people have little or no knowledge of blood clots, or they know about them because someone they knew died from a blood clot.
I hope my education effort increases the number of happy endings due to prevention, early and correct diagnosis and treatment of blood clots. When I wear the Mrs. Rosemount banner of my city in Minnesota (MN) during appearances or speeches, people ask what made me decide to enter a pageant. I know that a crown can provide a loud microphone to promote awareness about blood clots. I could also have the opportunity to travel throughout MN, and perhaps on to the International pageant to help National Blood Clot Alliance to Stop The Clot!
Take Home Messages
- Persist in seeking care when symptoms remain
- Blood clots can occur after injury (this patient) or a broken limb (person she heard about)
- DVTs can travel to the lungs as PEs and be fatal