This patient story “Running Down A Road to Blood Clots” was written by Rachel McCulloch for the Blood Clot Recovery Network Blog.
It was October of 2015 when I got to run one of the biggest and most important races of my life, which was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, California. The day of my race was amazing, inspirational, and in the end, I finished in pain with a knee injury. Flash forward to January of 2016, the pain had started to slowly intensify in my left knee, and I couldn’t take it anymore. After visiting my orthopedist, it was determined I had torn my meniscus and would need to have it surgically repaired. I was scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on February 2, 2016.
I was told it would be a super easy surgery and even easier recovery. I went into surgery and came out with no complications and feeling pretty good. The day after my surgery would be the day my life would change forever.
I woke up that morning with a very swollen foot and calf. I didn’t think anything of it, and attributed it to the surgery and the wrap that was protecting my sutures. I brushed off the swelling and went to my first physical therapy appointment that afternoon. After my physical therapist assessed my knee, she told me she was more concerned with the swelling and redness in my calf and foot.
My physical therapist told me I needed to go to the emergency room. My dad drove me straight to the ER and after being taken back for an ultrasound, it was discovered that I had a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, in my calf. I was immediately put on Eliquis. I was able to go home after a few hours in the emergency room, but I had to go back the next day with shortness of breath and dizziness. After having a chest cat scan done, I was diagnosed with multiple blood clots in my lungs and was admitted to the ICU for further observation.
I remember clearly that first night in the hospital as I reflected on my life. In a matter of a few months I had gone from a very healthy active 29 year old woman to a very sick individual facing a life or death situation. I kept thinking, “How could this happen to me?” The doctors were able to run blood work in the ICU, which eventually revealed the true cause of my blood clots to be factor V Leiden, a genetic blood clotting disorder.
“Wait, I have factor V Leiden?,” I thought, “The same disease my grandma and grandpa have.” Why had this not been found earlier on in my life? Why had I not taken any precautions? What if I wouldn’t have run that race at all? Then maybe I wouldn’t be in this situation.
All of the whys and what ifs won’t change the fact that I had this happen to me. My life has changed forever, but I don’t look at what happened to me as a negative. I try to always remain positive.
Life is a precious gift that can be taken away so fast, it’s best to look at all of the good things in life and put the negative stuff behind us. The one question I get asked all the time is if I still run, and of course, the answer is yes.
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