What do you mean I have a DVT!?
My experience with DVT began on Labor Day Weekend, 2019. I had taken the weekend off of work at my family’s request. I had just gotten back to work after 3 weeks off due to an unexpected hospital stay, accompanied by surgery to remove a displaced mushroom catheter. I’ll leave the where to your imaginations 🤦♀️
So taking more time off wasn’t something I was looking forward to as I was trying to keep my job and my health insurance.
I had been experiencing some leg pain which I had chalked up to chronic pain, the recent surgery, and the copious amounts of Cipro I had been prescribed the past year.
For those of you who don’t know, Ciprofloxacin is a super-strong antibiotic used to treat major infections. Between the sepsis, I had the year before and the reoccurring abscess and fistulae due to my perianal disease, Cipro and I became a little too familiar.
One of the side effects of Cipro, especially long term use, is tendonitis or tendon rupture. So naturally, I assumed the Cipro was the source of my extreme discomfort.
The pain became increasingly worse and I had to call out of work the day before my 4 day weekend. I don’t know about you, but calling out of work is not something my anxiety can handle very well, and with all the work I’ve had to miss due to my lovely Crohn’s disease, let’s just say it wasn’t a relaxing weekend. You can read about anxiety and mental health associated with chronic illness here.
When it got worse
Well, we arrived at my sister’s for a family barbecue and I was able to walk out of the car and into her house before the discomfort turned into my inability to walk. I was hopping around on one leg which was still horrible because of the impact of my good leg landing shook my bad leg which caused me to let out a scream.
By the time we arrived home, my leg was twice the size and throbbing, and I couldn’t walk at all. My poor father had to carry me into the house like I was Kerri Strug in the ’96 Olympics, minus the gold medal.
Convinced I was being “overdramatic”, my family struggled with taking my pain seriously until I called my doctor who then told me to get to an emergency room ASAP.
I’m sure this is a topic a lot of people struggle with it so stay tuned for my post about dealing with “non-spoonies”.
I’ll spare you the frustrating emergency room details and how the 13-year-old doctor told me it was impossible for me to have a blood clot, but YES, it was, in fact, a DVT in my lower right extremity.
*Disclaimer: The information provided in these posts are presented solely for informational purposes. These posts are of my personal opinion. I am in no way a doctor and the information provided should not be relied on to suggest a course of treatment or as a substitute for the advice of a physician or qualified health care professional. Always check with your professional care team before applying any of these methods.*
What is DVT?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the disorder in which the blood clots in your veins. This can be due to multiple factors. DVT is the result of severe medical conditions that affect the blood and vein system of your body and occurs when blood moves slowly through your veins due to surgery, lack of mobility, poor circulation, inflammation, certain medications, anemia, and is especially common in those with chronic illness.
Usually, DVT develops in the lower part of the body and causes pain and swelling in the legs. It can also occur in the upper area of your body, specifically in the arms and even the neck. The main reason for blood clots is when you do not move from your bed for too long. For example, if you had surgery or accident which requires you to stay in bed for a long time. This is why nurses administer drugs like Heparin when you are in the hospital and bribe you with treats if you do your laps around the nurses’ station.
Blood clots are severe and can travel through the veins if not treated immediately. They can block the bloodstream of your body and can break off and travel to the lungs. In such a case, the blockage is then referred to as a Pulmonary Embolism.
So now we know what DVT is and how they occur, but to better protect ourselves, here’s a list of DVT at its early stages and symptoms to look out for.
- Swelling and pain in the legs or upper area of your body
- Reddish, bluish or discolored skin area on the legs
- Pain in the leg when you stand or walk
- Warmth in the hurt area
- Distended veins
There is no guarantee that you will experience these symptoms as some people don’t experience symptoms at all. It such cases, if you experience any of the following, get to a doctor right away.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Accelerated heart rate
The exact number of DVT patients is unknown, but the cases are increasing. According to One Star, around 900,000 people could be affected by this disease every year in the United States of America. Approximately 60,000-100,000 people die with this disorder every year in the USA. Us spoonies have enough problems, so let’s make sure we keep an eye out to help prevent any further complications.
Other factors which could cause DVT
- Inherited blood clot disorder
- The long bed rests due to accident or any other disease
- Vein injury or surgery
- certain birth control pills
- Smoking and heart failure
- Sitting in one position for long hours like flights or driving
- Age and hormonal factors
At a very early stage, you can help prevent or relieve symptoms with daily walks and exercise. However, always consult your doctor before starting any activity. If it’s more severe, there are some medications that you can take. Usually, most doctors will prescribe Heparin, Eliquis, Warfarin, or Enoxaparin to thin the blood and relieve the clot.
If you are having severe conditions of DVT, then you need to consult your doctor, and he can give you thrombolytic drugs to thin the blood. It helps with the upper-level DVTs, and it helps to break the clots into small pieces, ultimately being absorbed by your body.
Some additional treatment options:
- Wearing Compression stockings below your knees can prevent your body from swelling. It also stops your body from forming more blood clots; it works if you are unable to take blood thinners.
- Filters are sometimes placed in large abdominal veins to stop the clot from entering the lungs. These filters should be used in the short term because they can cause complications.
- DVT surgery is the last option; it is used to remove the clot from your body. It is typically used for larger clots that are causing tissue damage.
Some changes in your lifestyle and regular exams can help prevent DVT from happening to you. If you are concerned, always go to your doctor as soon as you notice something is off.
Keep that blood thin my friends!
Clot survivor and chronic Eliquis junkie,