My dad had deep vein thrombosis (DVT) many years ago and was diagnosed with factor V Leiden. Because of this, I was tested and found to have inherited this mutation as well. Thanks, Dad.
In 2019, my calf was swollen and painful. The doctor sent me to get an ultrasound. It was a DVT. After a short course of blood thinners, it cleared up. I stopped the thinners after a couple months.
I was antsy to get back on my bicycle. During my first ride after the DVT, I ran smack into a mob. It was Richland, Washington’s annual Clot Trot 1 Mile/5K Fun Run for bleeding disorder awareness. I should have taken this as an omen.
Everything was fine for a year. Work shut down due to COVID and in August 2020 I started working from home, sitting at a desk 10 hours a day. At this time, I developed back pain, a bad cough, and shortness of breath. Everyone, including my doctor, attributed this to the horrible air quality from the local forest fires.
On September 22, the first day back at my work site, I had real trouble catching my breath. I had asthma as a kid, but this was different. I could breathe freely, but it was like there was no oxygen in the air. I told my manager and she drove me to the first aid station.
The nurses did a pulse oximeter and it was 82%. My blood pressure was 160/110. The physician’s assistant looked at the numbers and said, “Call the ambulance.”
At the hospital, they started treating me as if I was having a heart attack. I told them, “Why don’t you do a D-dimer? I have factor V Leiden.” So they did, and it came back 8.4; anything above 0.5 indicates a possible clot. A CT scan showed bilateral pulmonary emboli (PE) and a DVT in my calf.
I spent a week in the hospital with a heparin drip followed by twice the normal dose of apixaban for a couple of days and went home. I am now on blood thinners for life and feel lucky to be alive. My advice to others is never ignore calf pain or shortness of breath.
Factor V Leiden
Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots
Living Your Best Life on Blood Thinners