Until recently, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) was one of the many things that happened to other people. It never crossed my mind that it could ever happen to me. I don’t take super long flights. I’m only 41, but 27 in my own imaginary world. I’m not thin, but I’m not obese. Sure, I was always a birth control pill user, but I have never smoked, other than that time in seventh grade in the band practice room, which caused me to vomit. Anyway, I’m not the most likely candidate for a DVT. So, when I got calf pain this holiday season, I ignored it. Now, that I KNOW what was causing the pain, I need two hands to count the ways I almost died.
- I ignored the pain for five days. I first noticed the calf pain on Christmas Eve, a Monday. It hurt A LOT, but I assumed it was due to the walking boot cast. Plus, we had plans to go to a Christmas Eve party at our good friends’ house. I really like this family, and I wanted to go. So, I ignored the pain. The next day, Christmas, it hurt so bad that I almost cried. I thought maybe I should go to the ER, just to get it checked, but we were supposed to leave the next day to visit our parents in Florida. I didn’t want to ruin our visit. I was really convinced that it HAD to be muscular. At this point, blood clots were still on that list of things that happened to other people.
- I relied on the Internet instead of seeing a real health professional during those five days. My well-meaning Facebook friends told me to get Biofreeze or Bengay when I asked for help with muscular leg pain. Google searches led me to sites detailing how to deal with muscular calf pain after a cast. Apparently, this is a common issue. These same sites also told me that my skin would be hot and red if I had a clot. My skin was never and still isn’t hot or red.
- I rubbed my leg. A lot. I figured I could massage that knotted muscle back to being normal. My husband and I even considered going to a massage therapist. Since I didn’t know this before I had a clot, I’m assuming that you don’t know. RUBBING OR MASSAGING A CLOT CAN KILL YOU. When you have a clot, you don’t want it to move to your heart, lungs or brain. So, you don’t want to loosen it up and HELP IT MOVE at all.
- The doctor’s office took 8 hours to call back. I finally called the orthopedist’s office to ask about the post cast pain at 9:00 AM on Friday. When they still hadn’t called back when we were about to eat dinner, I was going to turn off my ringer and deal with it when I got home. When the nurse finally called back and told me to get a DVT test, I panicked, and I almost lied to my husband and told him it was nothing. After all, I didn’t want to ruin the holidays, and I really didn’t want to face reality.
- I was almost given an overdose of a blood thinner. Doctors have messy writing, and ER doctors don’t sleep much. With this combination, it was no surprise that the pharmacist was confused by the way the doctor wrote my prescription for the Lovenox injections, the first medication for DVT’s. The doctor wrote it for prefilled syringes, but needed me to take a lower dose. So, he wrote unclear instructions about shooting some of the medicine out before injecting it. Lucky for me, instead of worrying about being politically correct, the pharmacist asked my husband, “Is your wife a big lady?” My husband said no and told him my height and weight, and the pharmacist was able to decipher the dosage with that information.
- I let fear cloud my judgment. I have taken the birth control pill to regulate my menstrual cycle most of my adult life. I will spare you the gory details, but I will tell you that my monthly visits are a little slice of hell. Of course, the ER doctor told me to stop taking the birth control pill immediately. I didn’t listen. I took it for two more days because I figured since I was taking blood thinners and quitting the pill mid cycle, I was setting myself up for more hell WHILE TRAVELING. My husband finally talked sense in to me and put my pills in the “sharps” container. Since my husband has to give me the Lovenox shots, we have our very own sharps container.
My son got me a pink leather bracelet with “Seek Wisdom” on it for my 40th birthday. I have been wearing that as a reminder to seek out professional help when I need it. As of today, I’m still alive. I’m following the doctor’s orders, and I hope to be off of all of this blood thinner medication soon. I hope anyone reading this will share it, just to educate others. A lot of people have heard of blood clots, but who really thinks they will get one?