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I have always heLongwell, Sarahard it said, “pain is weakness leaving the body,” and as a Marine, I’ve always been one to push my limits, but nothing could prepare me for what was to come. I found enjoyment in long distance runs long after I completed my time in the Marine Corps and trained for marathons. I’ll never forget the day that changed my life.

In February 2014, I noticed a very sharp pain in my rear. Since I was an avid runner, I didn’t think much about it, and I attributed the pain to a pulled muscle. Every day, I noticed the pain got progressively worse and eventually, I began to limp. Then, I could no longer walk and the pain became unbearable. My leg also turned a bluish color. I decided to not go to the hospital that night, and in retrospect, I should not have waited.

The next morning, my husband Cory knew something wasn’t right, and he took me to the hospital. If it wasn’t for his persistence, I would probably not be here today. When I arrived at the hospital, the doctors did not know what was wrong with me and there was no real sense of urgency. As I continued to wait for a doctor, I noticed my leg had turned bright blue and pointed the color change out to a nurse.

They immediately sent me in for an ultrasound and discovered a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) on the right side of my body, extending from my ankle to my abdomen. I also had a CT scan and they found multiple blood clots (pulmonary embolism or PE) in both of my lungs. I went into surgery right away, and they started me on thrombolytics to break up the extensive clot. They inserted a vena cava filter to stop any blood clots from escaping and potentially entering my heart or lungs. I was hospitalized for eight days and put on blood thinners. The doctors determined that one of the contributing factors was estrogen-based birth control, which I had taken for eight years. I can no longer take this type of birth control. I was also given a factor V Leiden test and it came back negative.

Since then, I’ve undergone five surgeries to help improve the blood flow in my right leg. My most recent thrombosis surgery was in June 2016. I was given a tissue plasminogen activator, also known as tPA, which breaks down blood clots. I also had four stents placed in the leg. I will continue to be on blood thinners for the rest of my life.

I decided to become a part of a case study to evaluate how much of a blood clot can be dissolved in the vein, how much blood flow can be restored in the leg, and also to see if this treatment improves current symptoms. By participating in this study, I am hoping to help raise awareness about blood clots within the medical community. I’ve learned that many medical professionals are unaware of the warning signs of blood clots. In addition, this study will determine if patients’ quality of life has improved, which is imperative for many patients, like me, who suffer from post-thrombotic syndrome. I thank God every day that I am a survivor and for blessing me with supportive family and friends.

To join our online discussion community and connect with other people who have experienced a blood clot, please click here.

To learn more about risk factors for blood clots, please click here.
To learn more about signs and symptoms of PE, please click here.
To learn more about blood clot risks when taking estrogen-based birth control, please click here.

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Author: SW

2 Responses to "I Am a Survivor: Sarah Longwell’s Blood Clot Story"

  1. Rachel Misel
    Rachel Misel Posted on July 14, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    In 2010, I developed a blood clot in my left leg. I, at first, though it was a pulled muscle. I continued to walk on it for two weeks until finally I couldn’t walk on it anymore and found myself becoming faint and nauseous every time I stood. I eventually went into the clinic at the insistence of my mother (who had wanted to drive me to the er). I was fortunate my doctor was able to recognize the symptoms pretty quickly and treat me. The blood clot I had was also from birth control. Six years later, I started to have a familiar pulled muscle pain that would only get worse. This time I did not wait as long. I went in to the er on the second day and told them I needed my leg checked. They put it in their system as ‘leg pain’ and I had to explain more than once that I had already had a blood clot. Three hours later they officially diagnosed it, once more, a clot in the left leg. This time it was the result of hormones from pregnancy; I was 4 weeks postpartum. Blood clots are dangerous because they are slow to be realized by patients and are initially so unassuming when they feel like a sore muscle. If you’ve never had one, no one tells you the signs so you power through thinking you’ll heal. It’s important to bring awareness to the signs of blood clots.

  2. Eileen
    Eileen Posted on July 17, 2016 at 1:36 am

    My son is 30 and just went to ER last night with sever pain in his leg. They did an ultrasound and diagnosed him with a DVT. They gave him Xarelto and sent him home! I am a nervous wreck because it is the weekend and he is supposed to follow up with a vascular surgeon. He still has pain and swelling but will not go back to ER. He lives with his wife and I am unable to get through to him on the seriousness of this situation.