My story is not that I had an extensive deep vein thrombosis (DVT), since this happens to so many of us. My story is that it took me five weeks and five doctors, plus one physical therapist to have my symptoms truly heard and diagnosed. I had even asked all the right questions and pursued the correct doctors.
In June of 2021, my husband and I took a three-hour drive from Connecticut to Boston. This was three weeks after I started birth control to treat uterine fibroid symptoms. I had asked my doctors about blood clot risks since I am 48, but they said I wasn’t at risk because I didn’t smoke.
We arrived on a Friday night. When I woke up Saturday morning, I had a very sharp pain in my right calf and found it difficult to walk, but I had no swelling. I immediately thought it was a blood clot since I knew the symptoms, but decided to see how it progressed. I made a decision that I think truly helped me. I decided to walk all six miles of the Freedom Trail in Boston. If I had stayed in bed because of the pain, things could have been worse.
The calf pain didn’t subside, so as soon as I got home, I went to urgent care. The doctor said since there was no swelling, she didn’t think it was a blood clot and gave me a muscle relaxer. She performed no diagnostics.
The pain spread down to my heel, so the following week, I went to a podiatrist. I asked if it could be a blood clot, but I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Again, I was misdiagnosed.
The pain kept increasing. I saw an orthopedic specialist the following week. He said I had sciatica, even though he did a back x-ray and it came back as negative. He insisted that I did not have a blood clot and told my husband, “Your wife knows too much.” He gave me a prescription for cortisone and physical therapy. Diagnostic test for sciatica only.
The physical therapist was the first person to take my symptoms seriously. I was having severe leg pain throughout my entire leg by then. She said that I wasn’t presenting with sciatica and that my leg was indeed slightly swollen and warm. She asked me to go back to the ortho and request an ultrasound.
I immediately went back and saw a different doctor. He said I was already told that it was sciatica and not a blood clot. I said I’d like to have an ultrasound anyway. He couldn’t get me in that night but would ask the vein specialist to see me the next day.
That was the most important visit of my life! I was diagnosed with an abdomen-to-ankle DVT with three fully occluded veins in my upper thigh. The birth control and car ride were thought to have contributed to the clot.
Since then, I acquired a new team of doctors who I trust with my life, I’ve had a hysterectomy, I’ve been off of anticoagulants for a year, and I’ve never been healthier. Keep advocating for your health!
Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots
Women and Blood Clots
Questions to Ask Your Doctor