Patient Story: A DVT at 25 by Carrie Smith

Smith, Carrie blogIn January 2009, I was starting my final semester as a senior in college. I was almost 25 years old and I was told I needed a total hip replacement in my right hip. I had several problems with bones on the right side of my body since birth and knew eventually I’d need hip surgery, but a total replacement surprised me. It was hard to accept, but since I was in constant pain and walking with a cane, the surgery had to happen.

I had my total hip replacement in May, two weeks after graduation. The surgery went well, but didn’t go as planned. The doctor had tried to lengthen the leg a little bit too much (as I had one leg shorter than the other) and he tore the sciatic nerve. The next day, I had another surgery to repair the nerve and a rod was placed into my femur. Recovery looked gruesome and it was.

The next few months were trying. On top of the constant pain that I was in (both from the nerve and my replacement), I was having relationship issues with my current boyfriend. I became depressed and angry. To get me out of this slump, my best friend at the time suggested a spontaneous and secret trip to Vegas, which was four hours away from where we lived. This was mid-August. We took the trip and it was one of the greatest nights of my life, even though I was hobbling on crutches the whole time.

A couple of days later, I had severe pain in my left calf, about three inches from my groin. There was also bruising, which was confusing because I hadn’t hit my leg on anything. I told my physical therapist about it and she sent me to the ER. I am a very stubborn person. I hate going to doctors, hospitals, etc. I’ve spent so much time in them, I try to “stick through the pain,” if I can. I think my therapist knew this so she told me that I couldn’t come back to therapy until I was cleared by an ER doctor. My mom took me in right away. After an ultrasound and waiting for six hours later, it was just before midnight when the doctor came in. I laughed because I was so sure that he was going to tell me nothing was wrong and to go home. He said I was going to be admitted immediately and put on blood thinners. I had a deep vein thrombosis or DVT.

Smith, Carrie quoteI was devastated. I was already deeply depressed and to have to spend three days in the hospital sounded horrible. Even though my hip replacement surgery had been months before, because of the crutches and DVT, I wasn’t allowed to get up from the bed by myself. It was humiliating going to the bathroom with a nurse beside me. I felt like a child. The doctor said I was lucky that it hadn’t gone to my lungs or my brain. I hadn’t even heard of a blood clot before. It was hard to believe that it could happen to me. If I hadn’t said anything to my physical therapist, if I would have ignored the signs and symptoms, I could be dead. I knew the risk I was taking when I took off to Vegas, being in the car for four hours one day and four hours the next day. Even though my doctor may have told me, I don’t really remember him warning me that this could happen.

This DVT could have been prevented. I was unaware and didn’t know all the facts. I think everyone should be educated, especially after having major surgery. Wear the compression socks they suggest, do the exercises, and take caution when traveling. The simplest second thought could save your life.

Top 5 ways to prevent dvt

Thank you, Carrie, for sharing your story with BCRN. Connect with Carrie in the comments below. 

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