The Spark for Advocacy: Michele’s Story

The Spark for Advocacy: Michele’s Story

My name is Michele. I am a healthcare worker, mother, and recent survivor of venous thromboembolism (blood clots in the veins, which includes deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism). I am sharing my story to raise awareness, both on a general level as well as from the perspective of a healthcare worker.

In January 2020, I underwent an elective ankle surgery. At the time, I was slightly overweight and on hormonal birth control pills. I also had a family history of blood clots and two different genetic clotting mutations, although I did not know it at the time. Since I was only 31 years old, and relatively healthy, no anticoagulation therapy was discussed with me.

I did well during the first two weeks of recovery after my ankle surgery, but I noticed a change in how my leg felt when a cast was placed on it. I experienced throbbing and swelling in my calf, which prompted me to go into my doctor’s office to have it checked out. When I went in, my podiatrist informed me that the swelling and pain was normal, and that it would dissipate soon enough. There was no imaging ordered and, again, no anticoagulation discussed. I had no idea that I was at risk for thrombosis (blood clots).

On January 31, I woke up with pain behind my shoulder blade, radiating to my neck. This pain intensified with each breath. It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized something was very wrong. I reluctantly went into the emergency department, and I’m glad I did.

One EKG, chest x-ray and chest CT later, I was greeted by a physician who bluntly told me, “You’re not going to die, but you do have several blood clots in your right lung.” I was given no further information other than that they would be admitting me to the hospital and starting me on a blood thinner or anticoagulant medication.

I was in and out of the hospital for the next week with worsening symptoms and complications. During this time, I had a surreal near death experience when I was unable to breathe. The pain was more than anything I had ever experienced, and my body wanted to be at peace. I had just come to accept that it was my time to go, when I realized that I had more to fight for. I had a 10-year-old son and I didn’t want him to lose his mom.

During the long months of recovery following my blood clot diagnosis, I decided that I wanted to use my story for good. I recognized that there would be other people out there who would benefit from knowing the risks and signs of blood clots. Working in healthcare, I have the perfect platform to make real change when it comes to patient care and education. VTE has changed my life, but it also has sparked a fire in me that continues to motivate me to be the best patient advocate I can be.


Share your story
The personal story is intended for informational purposes only. The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) holds the rights to all content that appears on its website. The use by another organization or online group of any content on NBCA’s website, including patient stories that appear here, does not imply that NBCA is connected to these other organizations or groups or condones or endorses their work. Please contact info@stoptheclot.org with questions about this matter.

Additional patient stories

Boake, Anna_edited


Trust Your Instincts
Amber edited


Know Your Risk, Know the Signs
Gina 3_square


Better Safe than Sorry