A Survivor Speaks: The Trip of a Lifetime by Lori

In 2010, I experienced pain in my calf, which I thought was a charley horse and ignored for several weeks. When my leg and foot began to swell, my husband insisted I get checked out. I went to a walk-in clinic and was immediately sent to the ER. I was diagnosed with a DVT in my lower left leg. I was shocked! The doctor said it was caused by birth control pills, which I had only been taking for about six months for the hormonal benefits. I spent five days in the hospital, followed by two months of bed rest. After six months, my doctor took me off Coumadin, despite being diagnosed with Factor V Leiden.

Fast forward to February 2014. My husband and I were going to New York City for a romantic Valentine’s Day weekend. The week of our trip, I wasn’t feeling good. I had been working out very hard with a trainer and also tried a new exercise class. My thighs hurt, but I thought I just over-exerted during my workouts and pulled a quad muscle. I got light-headed one time when I got up from my desk at work, but I paid no attention, thinking I just got up too fast.

On Valentine’s Day, my husband picked me up at work to go to the airport for our flight to New York. We parked and started walking to the terminal. Suddenly, I had to stop and rest every few feet. I wasn’t having any pain or shortness of breath, but for some reason, I just couldn’t move for more than a few steps. After what seemed like an eternity, I made it into the terminal. When I did, I had to sit down immediately, as I suddenly could no longer breathe. Someone nearby noticed my distress and called an ambulance. My blood pressure dropped to 75, my heart rate was over 170. I went into tachycardia and was rushed to the nearest hospital.

I had two PE’s in my right lung, four DVTs in my left leg, and my right leg was completely blocked from my knee to my groin. Instead of going to New York City for the weekend, I was now fighting for my life. Due to the amount and severity of the clots, I was transferred to the ICU. After a few days with no improvement, I underwent a procedure where catheters were inserted behind both knees and a clot busting medicine was dripped through my veins.  It didn’t work. My feet turned blue, the nurses had trouble finding a pulse and I was scared. The doctors then went in again and basically “scrubbed” the clots from my veins. I spent the next five days in ICU, urinating blood and unable to move. I finally began to improve and was moved to a regular room, where I stayed for another week while they tried to get my INR to a therapeutic level.

It’s now five months later and I feel pretty good, other than some chest pain and extreme fatigue from anemia. I think about how lucky I am and that I got to the hospital in time. At times it’s overwhelming to think how close I came to dying. I also wonder though, why I survived and others don’t.  It’s hard to not overreact to every ache and pain, but also remember how important it is to get things checked out. It’s a delicate balance. I’m happy to say we finally made it to New York City over the 4th of July weekend this summer! I was anxious about flying, considering my close call but I made it! I don’t like the fact I’ll be on Coumadin for life, but each time I take it, I remind myself that I have been given another day to live and that I’m a survivor!

Thank you, Lori, for sharing your story with BCRN!



  1. I just read the stories of Moggie and Lori, man oh man, I thought I went thru a hard time, but reading the story of both of you girls makes me feel as if my episode with PE, six months ago, was NOTHING compared what you have both gone thru.
    My heart goes out to you both, you have been thru such a HORRIFIC experience………but you SURVIVED. So many havnt survived an ordeal like that, so now, every day seems like a gift!
    And like dear Sara taught me, patience is paramount and LISTEN to your body, it takes a long time for your heart and lungs to heal.
    But you WILL get better I found being POSITIVE very important but having said that, I still get apprehensive when my chest hurts or I get pain in my calf, but have learned from Sara, my “Lifesaver” to stop and REST.
    You find my story in Sara’s Blog in May 2014.
    THANK YOU BOTH for sharing your story, there is always something new we can learn.
    And by the way, I have also put on weight since being on Warfin, as has my husband who has been on it for 6 years. And Warfarin is also known to thin out your hair.But that’s nothing, we are SURVIVERS and still here to tell the story.
    Regards, Monique, “from down under” in sunny and hot Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

    • Hi Monique! Thank you so much for reading these stories and for your positive words of inspiration. It is really nice to hear them and hear the kind things you have to say about me and this site. I am glad to have you here and that you have been courageous enough to share your story with so many. On another note, as of this week, I have been in a little but of denial that my hair IS thinning out more than I thought – and more than I would like. I have noticed it when I am brushing it by what is collecting in my brush. I have also felt embarrassed to talk about it until now! 🙁 My whole life, I have already had very thin hair so this makes me quite upset. Thank you to you and so many for sharing about your hair because it helps me to talk about it with others such as you.

      Talk to you soon and have a beautiful day/evening!

  2. I am very curious about the ” I spent five days in the hospital, followed by two months of bed rest.” I had a significant DVT last year and was sent home from the ER with Lovenox injections and Coumadin. The doc told me to be as active as I wanted and went back to work the next day. I had DVT and PE years earlier and now diagnosed with antithrombin deficiency. My question is that there seems to be differences in recommendations for activity following a recently diagnosed DVT, any other comments?

    • Thank you for raising a very important discussion about recovery and how different it is for everyone.

      My story is very similar to Lori’s. I spent 10 days in the hospital, after being admitted through the emergency room and was on bed rest for about a month after discharge. My doctor actually never said my activity would be restricted, in fact, he encouraged me to move, but warned me it might be awhile. This being a former half-marathoner and in peak physical condition, I still could not do anything for a month. I stayed at home and on oxygen for that entire time. I did not work for a month and ended up losing my job after three when I did go back because of the extent of my injuries and inability to heal in that amount of time.

      I think the resounding thought is, our treatments vary greatly depending on the extent of injuries to the body and internal system. Everyone is different. I am very thankful for the way my treatment was handled looking back because it gave me a very solid foundation of rest that I needed to come back stronger later. My body greatly needed that rest. It was about 6 months before I could do anything active, even taking a small walk or making it through a day without a nap.

      Hope this helps give you another preservative!

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