Everyone Told Me to ‘Eat a Banana and Shake it Off’: Vanessa’s Story

Everyone Told Me to ‘Eat a Banana and Shake it Off’: Vanessa’s Story

I was standing at the car wash waiting for my car when I experienced an extreme charley horse in my left calf. The pain was so intense that it knocked the wind right out of me. For five days, I pushed through the pain, continuing to go to work, massaging my leg, and putting cold compresses on it. Everyone at work told me to “eat a banana and shake it off.”  

As the intensity of the pain worsened and I started to lose my ability to walk, my mom (having seen this happen to my grandpa in the past) told me she thought I had a blood clot. I laughed and told her those only happen to people who are older. After being overtaken by pain and fatigue, I went to the ER and was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis at 27 years old.  

The DVT stayed in my vein for nine months, causing tendon shortening, vein valve damage and severe mobility issues. Now almost two years in, I am a lifer on blood thinners and still cannot walk normally. The tendon shortening caused my heel to rise and lead to the inability to place my heel to the floor.  

I have walked on the ball of my left foot for more than a year now. I just got my orthotic device that has a lift in it and my good foot also had to be lifted so I can stand straight. I am now in the process of relearning how to walk with the help of my orthotic and my physical therapy team. The goal is to avoid tendon lengthening surgery by having this device.

I later learned I also have factor V Leiden, which comes from my father’s side of the family. This has changed my lifestyle entirely. Everything I was able to do before, I can’t now. Something as simple as getting out of bed or walking are not the same. Jet skiing is my passion and I haven’t been able to that either. 

Education and awareness of blood clots is key. NBCA has been very helpful to me as my doctors did not have much information, and I used NBCA to educate myself on my condition.  

Do not ignore the signs like I did. Blood clots kill and time is of the essence. Advocate for yourself and don’t let anyone make you think you are crazy. Your pain is real.


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I Was Fortunate to Have Survived This


The Medical Profession has a Long Way to go in Dealing With PEs and DVTs


Recognize the Signs of Blood Clots and Act Quickly