Janine Swiatkowski

Editor’s Note: Janine contacted NBCA in July, 2007 to make an inquiry about medical alert bracelets. She shared her story of blood clots with NBCA Board members and was asked if she would be willing to share her story with others through the website. She agreed!

I had a blood clot in July 2005 in the back of my leg. It broke off and traveled up to my lungs, giving me small showers of pulmonary emboli.

Luckily, I went to the doctor after my calf swelled, turned red and became very painful. The same day I saw the doctor, I got an ultrasound, was diagnosed with a DVT, taken to the ER and admitted to the hospital. I spent a night there and was released the next day. Needless to say, I was extremely frightened by the whole thing. But, now I look back on it and realize how lucky I was that I didn’t have a stroke or a heart attack.

I have no idea what precipitated the clot, although I did suffer some leg trauma while playing softball and I had taken a long plane trip recently. On the trip, I was not diligent in my water intake nor did I get up and walk around.

Anyway, my mom had a blood clot when she and my dad traveled to Fiji, so the doctor decided to do some genetic testing for a clotting disorder. My test was positive for Factor 2 clotting disorder or G20210A prothrombin. It is only on my mom’s side of the family. She has Factor 2 and Factor V, but she’s not on Coumadin. I, on the other hand, am on Coumadin for life. That is why I am unable to continue playing soccer, much to my dismay and to the dismay of my teammates and coach.

So, I’ve turned to running as my athletic outlet, because I’ve always been athletic. My two younger brothers and I grew up always competing against each other in some form in our backyard. I never had played soccer competitively growing up (just in our backyard). I played everything else in school: volleyball, softball, tennis, track, basketball, cross-country, rowing, etc. But, back then, kids only competed in one sport during a season. Soccer conflicted with softball. I got involved in an adult league when I first started working in Orange County. Someone told me that one of our photo editors played on a team and I joined them. That was in 1994. Apparently, clotting disorders were only discovered about 10 years ago. I underwent successful ACL reconstructive surgery without knowing I had a clotting disorder.

I believe that I’ve really been blessed to be alive and to be able to tell you my story today. I feel as if there is some purpose that I am to fulfill with relation to this clotting disorder. Maybe I’m supposed to spread the word about it or something.