My life was forever changed in June 2012 when an undetected blood clot in my leg, suddenly broke free and lodged into my left lung. I thought I had pulled a muscle running, which explained the pain in my left, upper calf right behind my knee. As the hours progressed, it became harder and harder for me to walk and eventually breathe. I blamed the initial pain in my side on what must of also been a pulled muscle (like a side stitch) from my early morning run on Saturday. While I ignored signs and symptoms for nearly two days because I didn’t think anything was wrong – which could have cost me my life – I eventually ended up in the hospital on Sunday night when I could barely walk or lie down due to shortness of breathe. I was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE) on Sunday night. The doctors said I did not have much time left to seek help.
Although hospital staff was ready to blame my clotting incident on oral contraceptives (which I am sure played a part in my risk factors) without further inquiry, one persistent doctor took on my case and discovered that I actually had an autoimmune condition called Antiphospholipid Syndrome Antibody (APS), which causes an antibody to create blood clots in my body when it really should not.
I was 29 years old and pretty okay; as a matter of fact, things were going well for a change and I was happy for once. I was running (a lot – and even coaching running) and eating right; I had lost over 50 pounds, which was a major goal of mine; my marriage had made it over the newlywed hump; and I was beginning my dream career, which I had worked for two long years through testing and interviewing to get.
In a matter of less than two days, a blood clot managed to change all of that. I went from being happy, healthy and sure of the direction my life was taking to gravely unhealthy, unsure of anything and in the worst pain I could ever recall. I spent six days in the cardiac ICU after my admission, ten days in the hospital total and nearly a month on bed rest when I did finally return home – with an oxygen tank and unable to walk up the stairs unassisted. Not to mention I couldn’t run.
I did not understand anything that had happened to me and once I was able to stay awake for more than a few hours, I started scouring the internet for information about people like me – young, healthy, happy people who had been completely blindsided by a blood clot. Information about blood clots and their dangers existed, but I had to dig and it was hard to come by. It seemed like no one I knew understood why, two weeks, three months, and a year down the line I was still talking about what happened to me, getting regular blood draws to monitor my blood’s clotting factors (INR), run-walking here and there I was able and still unemployed. “What happened to you?” “Wait, didn’t you get that job you wanted?” “Aren’t you better yet?”
I began to realize that while some information about blood clots did exist, information about recovery – for survivors, family and friends – was even scarce. My questions were simple like what’s an INR; how long would I feel like this; is that pain normal; and why does Vitamin K matter all if a sudden? To serious, life-altering questions such as where could I turn to get some clarity about my diagnosis, treatment and hopeful recovery; where could I go when even my marriage was impacted by the stress of chronic illness; where could I go to begin to find understanding, acceptance and peace about what happened to me; and where could I go to connect with others who were in the same situation?
It is because of these questions and more that I created Blood Clot Recovery Network to help others through their own recovery journey.
In my professional life, I work as the Manager of Communications and Health Marketing for the National Blood Clot Alliance.
When I’m not talking about blood clots or my own recovery, I enjoy spending time in the great outdoors with my husband and two dogs. I love writing and spending time with my family.
Welcome. With this community of survivors, friends, family and advocates, I hope you too can find what you are looking for to aid in your healing, recovery and life ahead.
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