Mr. E. Anonymous Tells His Blood Clot Survivor Story

Mr. E. Anonymous Tells His Blood Clot Survivor Story

Mr. E. Anonymous was healthy and active, when he had a seemingly unexplained DVT while he was pursuing a Master’s degree in Physical Education.  His DVT detoured him from his goal, and he was also laid off from his job soon after, so he is coping with many unforeseen events.

I was a completely healthy 29 year old male who lived a very active lifestyle.  I was working part-time as a paralegal and was simultaneously enrolled in a Master of Physical Education program at the local university. I’ve been active my entire life and enjoyed working out.  I played basketball, golf, and many other sports. I visited physicians regularly for numerous physicals over the years, and took good care of my body.  My goal to become a Physical Education Teacher prompted me to advocate for health in others as well.

I noticed pain in my left leg that seemed to come on gradually in late September 2012. I originally thought it was a pulled calf muscle, because I speed walked around campus and to get from class to class and climbed stairs constantly.  I then noticed my entire lower leg and foot was red and severely swollen. I made an appointment to see my family practice physician, who did not make a diagnosis, but urged me to go the Emergency Room (ER), where I went the next day.  I waited, because I hoped that my symptoms would go away, and I did not like the idea of going to an ER.

As I laid in the ER, I found that I was hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst.  They did ultrasounds of both legs immediately, and about an hour later, the doctor informed me that I had a blood clot in my leg directly (deep vein thrombosis/DVT) behind my left calf muscle, and that I needed to be admitted. There was some redness that was likely a rash on my right leg, and those added symptoms prompted the ultrasound in both legs, even though a DVT usually happens on one side. I was completely shocked and disappointed, to the point where tears rolled down my face.  I had never been hospitalized before nor had any adverse health conditions.  I felt extremely helpless and very sick for the first time in my life, and I was hospitalized for three days.

The pain in my leg was about the worst pain I have ever endured, even more than broken bones, pulled muscles, or torn cartilage. This pain felt like what I imagine would be equal to the pain of a gunshot to the leg.  I could not walk or stand.  I needed assistance to get around from my wife and family for almost three weeks, and also missed work during this time.  At first, I used a wheelchair, and progressed to a walker.  I was on a high dose of pain medicine that caused severe constipation as well as some weight loss due to lack of appetite.

I was treated with Coumadin® and am still taking it.  I was not advised to wear compression stockings. There is no history of blood clots in my birth family, and the broken bones I referred to occurred six years before my blood clot. Tests for blood clotting disorders were negative.

I had to withdraw from school and now will be unable to graduate for the foreseeable future.  I incurred an enormous medical bill as well.  My DVT cost me well over $15,000 in medical bills, lost tuition, and lost wages.  It also cost me the chance of attaining my degree.  My work was on a computer at a desk, so was fortunately sedentary. I was able to fulfill my work related duties, but was nevertheless laid off 6 weeks after returning to work, due to budget cuts within the company, and have been unable to find work since.        .

I have nearly lost everything because of my DVT.  I do not know why this happened and I had never heard of this illness before.  DVT seemed a very mysterious condition, because I was not at risk for getting a blood clot.  I have tested negative for any blood clotting disorder, was extremely active, and did not take any airplane or car rides longer than 4 hours prior to my DVT.  I am thankful that I sought care right away, and that my doctors sent me to the ER, where it was diagnosed before the clot broke loose and traveled to my lungs as a pulmonary embolism.

I am hoping for a full recovery and wish to put this behind me.  I have learned that life is a continual struggle and good health is not guaranteed.   Hopefully, this unexpected challenge will make me a stronger person in the future and more cognizant of any other symptoms that might require medical attention.

DVT seems more common and riskier than most people realize.  I hope for increased awareness and education regarding this condition, so more people can respond to any symptoms right away, as I was fortunate enough to do.

Take Home Messages

  • Avoid any delay when advised to go to an ER.
  • Wear compression stockings to prevent complications of DVT.
  • Respond to symptoms as soon as possible.
  • Illness can cause interruption in many facets of life.
  • Blood clots can occur without any identifiable reason.

The National Blood Clot Alliance’s mission is to advance prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of blood clots, clotting disorders and clot-provoked strokes through public awareness, advocacy and patient and professional education.

Click here to review the signs and symptoms of DVT/PE.

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.
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