Caught Off Guard: Olanna’s Story


Caught Off Guard: Olanna’s Story

March 2015 was the start of a health journey that would impact the rest of my life. Earlier that month, I was experiencing a slight, nagging pain in the back of my calf. After a few weeks of dealing with the symptoms, I made an appointment with my primary care doctor. Later that afternoon, I ventured to the local hospital for an ultrasound of my leg. The results revealed no signs of anything abnormal with my leg.

A few weeks later, I started experiencing a minor pain in my lower bicep and tightness in the middle of my left forearm. The discomfort increased as the month of April went on. I remember one night I packed a small suitcase, which sat next to the sofa in my living room in the event anything happened. Eventually, I decided to visit my doctor again toward the end of April. During the visit, we discussed how I had recently moved a few boxes around my place and a recommendation of physical therapy was given, as my symptoms appeared to be a muscle strain. As I waited for approval to proceed with scheduling physical therapy sessions, my symptoms grew worse.

The first week of May, I was attending a graduation ceremony. I noticed some numbness of my fingers and rubbed my arm all day in hope that the discomfort would ease a little bit. While in attendance at the event, I lost feeling in my fingers. Fifteen minutes later, I arrived at the hospital, where tests were swiftly done on my heart and left arm. Within a matter of minutes, the nurse returned to my room and delivered the news that a blood clot was found in my arm. More specifically, it was a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, in the basilic vein or the large superficial vein of the upper arm. This caught me off guard and little did I know I would be contacting a colleague to grab the small suitcase sitting in my living room. Diagnosis of the blood clot would lead to ongoing blood tests, different medical treatments, monitoring by specialists, unexplained loss of strength in my arms and fingers, and tightness in my arm.

Today, I am blood clot free and no known cause was ever found. I continue my research about blood clots and share my experience with others. My passion for this topic is not only based on my own experience, but also due to the loss of a beloved sorority sister who suffered from a blood clot in her lung in October 2009. Also, other members of my sorority have traveled this journey with their family members and friends. I am sharing with other people to continue yearly medical checkups, know your body, and do not be afraid to share your story.


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