My intention for sharing the following story is not to receive sympathy but instead, spread awareness and hope for anyone in the same or similar situation.
On June 3rd, 2019, I was grocery shopping, and all of a sudden felt an intense sharp pain in my lower back on the left side of my body. I was 25 weeks pregnant, very active, and assumed that I must have pulled something at the gym earlier that day. I had been seeing a prenatal chiropractor and scheduled an appointment for the following day to get adjusted. A few days go by, and the nagging pain was still there. I had developed a limp and decided that I needed to schedule a few back to back appointments with the chiropractor. The pain in my back subsided, but I was quickly met with a new pain in my left groin. I remember thinking, “This MUST be a secondary injury, and my leg is riddled with trigger points.”
Several weeks go by, and I was still experiencing pain in my leg. On June 20th I was out running errands and noticed that my left foot, ankle, and leg were swollen. I recall thinking, “I know that swelling in the lower extremities is common during pregnancy, but why in just one leg? Is this normal? It’s probably because of the trigger points I have in my upper leg/groin area”. The following day I was starting to experience intense pain in my groin and decided to get another chiropractic adjustment. A few hours later, I was struggling to walk. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t want to believe it. I spent the entire weekend in bed with my symptoms getting worse by the minute. I couldn’t walk anymore, and my leg began turning a different shade than my right leg. The pain was unlike anything I have ever experienced. My leg felt heavy … like it was suffocating … like it was dying. I looked at my husband and said “I feel like I’m dying, I think I have a blood clot in my leg.”
On Monday, June 24th, 2019, we decided to head to the emergency room. It was the eve of my 33rd birthday and the start of my third trimester (28 weeks pregnant). As soon as I got to the hospital, they put me in a wheelchair and whisked me off to Labor & Delivery to get checked out. They hooked me up to several machines to check and make sure my baby was ok, and we waited for the doctor to arrive. They measured my leg, and it was 1.5 inches larger than my right leg. I told the doctor that I might have a blood clot and wanted to be evaluated for illio femoral deep vein thrombosis. They ran several blood tests on me and ordered a doppler ultrasound for my left leg.
The ultrasound technician told me that my blood was incredibly thick as he scanned and inspected the deep vein of my entire left leg. It turns out I had an incredibly large blood clot in my pelvis area, more specifically the illio femoral deep vein. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein located deep inside your body. A blood clot is a clump of blood that’s turned to a solid-state. Deep vein blood clots typically form in your calf, but they can also develop in other areas of your body. If a blood clot breaks free and moves through your bloodstream, it can get stuck in a blood vessel of your lung. Doctors call this a pulmonary embolism, or PE. It can be fatal.
This was a life-changing moment for me. I was officially considered a high-risk pregnancy and was told that I could no longer have a home birth. Click here to read my birth story. I was devastated. How could this happen to ME? I eat clean … I work out 5 days a week … I take really good care of myself. Why me?
I was immediately put on blood thinners, which I would have to self inject into my stomach twice a day for the rest of my pregnancy and postpartum. Blood thinners do not treat the clot, but instead, keep the clot from getting larger. The doctors told me that the clot would most likely dissolve on its own over time.
It took about 3-4 weeks for me to be able to walk again. During that time, I was poked and prodded more times than most people ever are in an entire lifetime. I had so many blood tests done that I lost count. I was told that I needed to do an MRI to rule out a condition called May Thurner Syndrome, but the results were inconclusive because my uterus (it was huge since i was pregnant) was blocking the area that they needed to view. May Thurner Syndrome is caused when the left iliac vein is compressed by the right iliac artery, which increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the left extremity.
This was such a dark time for me. I tried to remain positive, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t absolutely terrified of dying or losing my baby every single day. Every time I coughed or felt anxious, I was would start panicking because I thought I was having a Pulmonary Embolism. My doctor told me that I was the most high-risk patient to have walked through his doors in years and that if I missed one shot that I would probably die. My stomach was covered in painful hematomas, and I dreaded self-injecting every day. I felt like I was going to be “sick” forever and that this would be my new normal.
My labor was induced at 38 weeks(September 3rd, 2019), and at that point, the clot had slightly reduced in size but was still in my illio femoral deep vein. I was told that I would need to be on the thinners for another six months and would need to start seeing a hematologist. On January 10th, I had a follow-up appointment with a hematologist, and my blood clot was officially gone. Oh man – talk about tears of joy!!! The hematologist told me that my blood clot was most likely pregnancy-induced. During pregnancy, your blood is more likely to clot as a safeguard against losing too much blood during labor.
I have since made pretty much a full recovery. I am able to walk, run, jump, and lift things. I have some residual pain in my upper left leg but only feel it when I stretch that leg in a straddle position. I am no longer on blood-thinning medication. The hematologist told me that I would need to take aspirin for the rest of my life; however, I am not following that recommendation as I feel that I have natural options available with no side-effects. I have since created a natural medicine protocol that I will share in a future post.
For any pregnant moms reading this who are currently going through the same thing … know that my baby was born perfectly healthy and did not suffer any side-effects or deformities from the blood-thinning medication. Your baby will be fine and you will get through this. Try to stay positive and trust that everything will be OK!
I want to spread awareness and encourage everyone to know the signs and symptoms of a blood clot. Blood clots do not discriminate. I am incredibly lucky that I did not die as I let my symptoms go on for three weeks before I went to the emergency room. Not everyone is this lucky. On average, one person dies every six minutes from a blood clot. Knowing the symptoms and risk factors can save your life.
Blood Clot Symptoms
- Warmth to the touch
- Pain. As the clot gets worse, you may hurt or get sore. The feeling can range from a dull ache to intense pain.
- Worsening leg pain when bending the foot
- Leg cramps (especially at night and/or in the calf)
- Discoloration of skin
- Trouble breathing. If this happens, it could mean that the clot has moved from your arm or leg to your lungs. You may also get a bad cough, and might even cough up blood. You may get pain in your chest or feel dizzy. Call 911 to get medical help right away.
Below is a list of some of the most common risk factors for blood clots. Know your risk:
- Hospitalization for illness or surgery
- Major surgery, particularly of the pelvis, abdomen, hip, knee
- Severe trauma, such as a car accident
- Injury to a vein that may have been caused by a broken bone or severe muscle injury
- Hip or knee replacement surgery
- Cancer and cancer treatments
- Use of birth control methods that contain estrogen, such as the pill, patch, or ring
- Pregnancy, which includes up to three months after the baby is born
- The use of hormone therapy that contains estrogen
- A family history of blood clots
- Confinement to bed
- Sitting too long, especially with legs crossed