My personal life changed a few months ago when, while pregnant with my third baby, I was diagnosed with a DVT in my left leg. I was hospitalized and put on blood thinners immediately to help control the possibility of it spreading to my heart. wow. What a scary and life threatening experience it was for me and my husband. Here I am, a healthy woman, age 31 with no other major health concerns going on, now with a blood clot.
I have been asked sooooo many times, "how did you know it was a blood clot?" Well, to be honest I had no idea. I had gone on a family camping vacation in early August 2011. We had to travel about 6 hours in the car. Because I was pregnant, we took several stops so I could get out and walk around both to get there and coming back home. I had not been feeling very well during the camping trip but brushed it off as just pregnancy and the fact that we all know that camping is no vacation but a lot of work, esp with young kids so I was extra tired. By the end of the month I had a very weird leg ache that worsened, causing me to have no relief no matter what I did. It was slightly swollen, felt a lot like restless leg syndrome (which I have suffered from ever since I waitressed in college), and it was extremely painful to walk on. I knew something was different so I called my doctor. I soon found myself in the hospital having an ultrasound on my leg, they found the blood clot behind my knee in my left leg. I was admitted to the hospital that night and was started on blood thinners that would then be my treatment for the next 6 months. Little did I know just how dangerous a blood clot is and can be. Pregnant or not. For the last 3 months of my pregnancy I gave myself Lovenox shots, in my stomach twice a day, every day. Then to deliver my baby we decided to plan a C-section since my risk of bleeding out was so high. I was switched to Heparin just a few days before the delivery and then after I delivered I was put on Warfarin for the following 3 months. I had weekly blood testing, sometimes 3 times a week to check my PT/INR levels until I had a follow up ultra sound to confirm that the blood clot had dissolved. And let me tell ya, blood thinners are no fun. no fun at all.
Here are just a few risk factors for developing a DVT (deep vein thrombosis OR blood clot):
*have had any major surgeries
*family history of blood clots
(click HERE for a full list of risk factors)
For me, I had several of these factors....
-I had had an emergency crash C-section with my second baby due to a prolapsed cord. Baby was born with a genetic disorder.
-I was currently pregnant and I had had a severe chronic sinus infection, croup and strep throat all within the first few months.
-I was over weight
-My grandmother had a blood clot
-I have had a miscarriage. My great grandmother, mom and sister had miscarriages.
-I had taken birth control before getting pregnant with my first baby and had a medical reaction to it.
What I have learned most in my life, over the last 3 years especially, is that knowledge is power. The chance of developing a blood clot was the last thing from my mind. Trust your body. If something feels wrong there might be something wrong and to have it checked. Do not be afraid to look dumb is something isn't wrong in the end. Know your family history and know that you are worth being taken care of. Because I have had a blood clot and I have other family members that did as well, I have a high risk of having a blood disorder. ( I am being checked for them in the next few weeks) And if I have a blood disorder then my girls have a higher risk of having a blood disorder as well as having some of the same health risks that I have had when they become pregnant later in life. I want them to know their family history and potential risks of having any of the same issues that I have had so I am trying to get some answers to my own condition.
Know one knows the answers to everything and anything can happen no matter what we do but it's better to have some knowledge about certain things so we can do something about it. Be an advocate for your own health. You are worth it and your loved ones will love you more for it.
Happy DVT Awareness Month!!