Did you know that on average 1 person every minute is diagnosed with blood clots? The even more devastating news is one person dies every 6 minutes from blood clots! I didn’t know either until I was diagnosed with blood clots in my leg and both my lungs last year. There is so little public awareness for blood clots which is why I am sharing my story. Blood clots can happen to anyone of any age for so many reasons.
In late March 2021 I started having weird tingles in my leg that turned into traveling pain in my leg, and then became a charlie horse that would not stop hurting. The pain got so bad I woke up one day and couldn’t put any weight on my leg and noticed there was significant bruising. I took myself back to urgent care where the Dr ordered a second ultrasound. He got the results and let me know I had a significant blood clot in my vein called a DVT (deep vein thrombosis). When the Dr looked over my chart and mentioned my heart rate was higher than at my previous visit the week before. Little did I know this was a sign the blood clots could have traveled to my lungs. After that he ordered a CT scan to check for pulminary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs). The results came in and the Dr looked me right in the eyes and said “Alexandra, I’m so sorry but you already have many significant blood clots in your lungs. You are in a life threatening, potentially fatal situation. I have already admitted you to the hospital.” Those are the words that changed my life forever. I burst into tears. I didn’t know much about blood clots before, and really still didn’t at this time, but hearing the Dr tell me that was absolutely terrifying.
Within minutes I was starting treatments to dissolve the clots and being wheeled up the the hospital. I spent the weekend in the hospital and then went home with oxygen, blood thinners and a list of things to not do. After the hospital I stayed with a friend for a few days before going home and I thought I felt okay but in hind sight I was living off adrenaline. By the time I got home I fell apart and realized how physically and mentally un well I really felt. The next 6 months were like living on a roller coaster and were filled with more Dr’s appts than I had ever had in my entire life.
I had lots of side effects from the blood clots as well as the meds I was taking. I had chest pain that was excruciating, my leg that was bruised before was even worse and it hurt to touch or even wear leggings, I had restless legs, and even laughing hurt and laughing is my favorite! It was a huge adjustment to go from walking 3-5 miles every day then barely being able to walk to the kitchen or bathroom without feeling completely exhausted. My heart rate would instantly sky rocket to 140 just standing up. As if all these physical things to go through weren’t bad enough there is also a lot that happens mentally and emotionally. I felt really hopeless. It was hard to make any plans for anything because part of me thought I wasn’t gonna make it though this. I wondered if I would ever feel better, I worried that the meds weren’t working and that the blood clots would kill me, I got so depressed at the thought that life would stay like this. I talked with my Dr and he reassured me that my feelings were 100000% normal for going through what I did. We actually had a super long talk about my feelings and he recommended that I go to therapy of some kind to help me work though everything. I got a counselor and it really helped. It also helped to find Blood Clot Recovery Network blog and find places where I could connect with others who had been where I was.
Nearly a year later I am feeling much better. I am so very grateful to be alive. I am so thankful for my Dr and all the Dr’s and nurses I have seen over the last year. I am especially grateful to the Dr who ordered that second ultrasound that saved my life.
When I was in the hospital the one thing I didn’t have to worry about was Bella. That day I left for urgent care thinking this wasn’t a big deal and I would be home that night but wound up in the hospital. Luckily my parents have access to my house and are familiar with her schedule and they took great care of her till I got home. I was happy the only thing I didn’t have to worry about was Bella since we already had a plan in place.
In talking to people over the last year I realized many people don’t have an emergency plan for their dog in case things like this happen. I created a checklist to help you organize and be prepared in case of an emergency. I hope you take the action steps and plan for your pets care when unexpected things pop up.
For more information on blood clots visit the National Blood Clot Alliance at www.stoptheclot.org