My name is Michelle, and like many of the patient stories on this site, I stumbled upon the Stop The Clot Facebook page during my research for more information on blood clots. On October 29, 2013, I survived a life-threatening blood clot in my calf (deep vein thrombosis or “DVT”) and lungs (pulmonary embolism or “PE”).
I could have never imagined something as serious as this, could have happened to me. I am a very active, and I run, and practice fitness boot camps almost every day. I have never smoked, or had surgery, or children. I had been on the same birth control pill for 10 years, and switched to a new oral contraceptive in September 2013.
On October 26, 2013, I went out for a run and I felt like I was fighting for breath. I had recently been studying for a test so since my workout schedule had changed I assumed I was just out of shape. The following morning, as I was walking into my office, I was very tired; my legs felt like they were cramping up, but again I figured it was due to my workouts. This went on a few days, and on October 26th, I went to a clinic where they told me I was experiencing heart burn and allergies. I was sent home with an inhaler and an antacid. My blood pressure always remained in the normal range, and though my pulse was high in the 110 beats range, the doctors thought I was just being nervous. So with that in mind, I figured I was being dramatic and I just decided to enjoy my weekend, even though I felt like I was unable to breath or eat.
By the next day, my right calf started to feel like it was cramping, the pain went down all the way to my toes. I put ice and hot patches on my leg thinking it was a sports injury, and took some Advil for it. Since I had an appointment with my endocrinologist on October 29th anyway, I figured I would wait to ask him questions.
Well, the morning of my endocrinology appointment I was on a conference call at work, when I felt really sick; my leg and heart stared to pound.I felt very scared, my instincts told me this is not normal, and I felt like I was going to pass out. I work from home so I called 911, and when the paramedics came they told me I had a panic attack and to go to my doctor’s appointment. My blood pressure always remained in the normal range and my pulse was high in the 110 beats range and the paramedics said I was too young for a blood clot at 32 years old.
I kept hearing the same 4 questions over and over:
- Do you have kids?
- Did you accidentally hit yourself?
- Have you had any recent surgeries?
- Have you been in any long trips?
In my case I answered NO to all the questions. I did not fit the profile. I have to say that thankfully my endocrinologist said go to the emergency room as soon as possible. I went from that appointment to see my amazing doctor, who was able to confirm my DVT and PE. I went to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas where amazing doctors gave me a tPA, which stands for Tissue plasminogen activator (abbreviated tPA or PLAT), a protein involved in the breakdown of blood clots. After that, I was put on a new oral anticoagulant or blood thinner, twice a day for a few weeks.
Amazingly, I was out of the hospital after 3 days; the doctors and nurses at Baylor were so great! I only spent about 48 hours in the ICU as a precaution. I am now following my treatment to the T. I have not been able to do a boot camp yet, but I am walking 3 miles a day, and I can’t wait to make a full recovery.
I recently had a second blood clot on January 18, 2016 and thankfully this time around my family and friends were all educated on the matter and were able to help me not dismiss the signs.
Once again, it happened after I went jogging with my best friend, my right calf felt really hard and I could not put any weight on it. I did not let time pass by and immediately went into the emergency room. I let them know my history of previous DVT and PE. I called my primary doctor, who amazingly came to see me at the emergency clinic. After a quick sonogram they confirmed I had a clot in the same spot as last time. I was hospitalized a few days and will have to take a blood thinner for life.
I have and will continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle. More than ever I am focused on determining what caused me to have a second clot (since I don’t have a genetic condition). My Doctor and I are working together to determine if Venous Insufficiency could be a cause.
But the most important thing is to help educate others about the signs of a DVT, it’s so easy to dismiss. No matter how old you are, have a good doctor that knows your history and be your advocate. Help us spread the word this March.
My biggest take away of this experience is that you have to be your own advocate, and if you feel sick do not dismiss it. Make sure to have a good doctor that knows your medical history. In my case, I am relatively new to Dallas (1.5 years), and being young and healthy made me lay off the need to have a good family doctor. Going from clinic to clinic definitely delayed my diagnosis. I really hope my story can help other people understand how sudden a DVT and PE is and how commonly it’s misdiagnosed. In order to spread the word, I ask that you help in our effort to raise funds for the National Blood Clot Alliance and spread awareness.
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