When I had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my left leg, I was a 19-year-old college freshman who had never heard of blood clots before. I assumed I’d broken my leg and hobbled to two classes before going to the hospital.
The hospital was a rural one with only four beds in the ER, so I was transferred by ambulance to a larger hospital 50 minutes away. My clot extended from my left knee to my groin and was present in my left iliac vein. I was treated with heparin, t-PA, and three surgical procedures to remove the clot. 3 stents were also inserted to correct my venous deformity.
After my blood clot diagnosis, I discovered that I had May Thurner Syndrome and Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome that contributed to my clotting experience in addition to a hip injury and the estrogen-based birth control I was on.
Although my clot was a relatively simple fix medically, I was deeply traumatized by the experience. I grew up with OCD, but I never expected my mental health to be tested in such a severe way. Two years after the clot, I descended so far into panic attacks, PTSD, and medicine interactions that I experienced suicidal ideation.
It took me another year to feel more like myself and I am now passionate about educating others on the connection between blood clots and mental health breakdowns. As a “lifer” on blood thinners, I hope to continue this advocacy as I work through problems like excessive menstrual bleeding.
Even after recovering from my post-DVT mental health crisis, I am permanently changed by my experience. I am more cautious and have developed an intense fear of medical situations, but have discovered a deep well of courage that I can tap into if I truly need to.
I have learned to pay attention to changes in my body and that blood clots can happen to anyone, even someone who’s “too young.” NBCA has shown me the importance of strong data and community.
My advice to others is to take care of your mental health after a blood clot. Even if your clot is removed or fixed relatively easily, your life has changed suddenly and trauma hits like a truck.