Leslie’s story is one that you read and then take a moment to say… “Wow! That was intense!” Sometimes life just keeps attacking you, relentlessly. Before you get over one hurdle, the next one is there waiting to trip you up–let Leslie’s story encourage you to never give up, even when difficulty complicates every aspect of your life.
“I finally went to the emergency room…”
I had gone on a trip in 2005 that required a 9-hour drive. My calf in my left leg was sore and tight. I thought I was having a muscle spasm. Over the following couple of days, my leg began to swell more and more. It became extremely difficult to walk, and I had no idea what was going on. I had never experienced anything like this before. I finally went to the emergency room, unsure of what else to do. When I signed in at the desk, I listed as my symptoms, “Swelling and muscle spasms in left leg.” I had only been sitting in the waiting area for a few moments before a nurse came out and asked if she could look at my leg. I pulled up my pant leg, and she said, “Honey, this is not a muscle spasm. It looks like you have a blood clot.”
“Honey, this is not a muscle spasm.”
I had no idea what a blood clot even was and was very confused. They got me back to see a doctor immediately. I was rushed into an ultrasound. I still did not process that something very serious was going on. The doctor came in shortly after the ultrasound and told me I had an extremely large blood clot in my left leg that was one of the largest they had ever seen. He said I needed hospitalized, and I was shocked because I did not really think it was anything serious when I had gone to the emergency room. I spent over a week in the hospital before being released on Coumadin. It was believed at the time that it was just a fluke occurrence that had resulted from my recent travel. However, a few weeks later, I was getting into my car, and suddenly experienced terrible, extreme pain around in my lung. I knew I needed to go to the hospital, but I was in so much pain, I could not reach over to close the door of my car. It took me several minutes before I gathered the courage to push through the pain, reach out, and grab the door of my car while I screamed in pain. When I got to the emergency room, I was again rushed to see the doctor. I had a CT scan where they saw that a piece of the blood clot had broken off from the clot in my leg and traveled to my lungs where it had gotten stuck (called a pulmonary embolism). I had another hospital stay where they adjusted my Coumadin dosage. The doctor said I would need to be on Coumadin for a longer period because of this happening, but would eventually be able to be off of it.
“I was again rushed to see the doctor.”
What followed was a year-long nightmare in which I repeatedly had blood clots form in my left leg, and I was repeatedly in the hospital. I had several pulmonary embolisms. I was referred to a hematologist to manage the issue when it became clear that I had a more serious problem going on than a fluke blood clot from travel. I had a filter placed in the main vein that runs to the heart to catch blood clots because of the frequency with which I was getting pulmonary embolisms. Finally, I had an extremely large blood clot form around the actual filter. I didn’t realize something serious was going on at the time, but both of my legs were swelling with fluid quite badly. I had just started a new job that required me to be on my feet a lot more, and I thought the swelling was a response to that change. I was at home, studying for a college course, when I instantly developed very severe chest pain. I looked around and realized I could not see anything on the right side of my nose. For several moments, I thought I was having a heart attack. The pain passed, and I went to the emergency room after calling my doctor, still unable to see anything on the right side of my nose. A CT scan showed that I had an extremely enormous blood clot in my left lung. It was the largest that the radiologist had ever seen in a person that was still alive. The clot that had formed around the filter had broken free and traveled straight to my heart, through my heart, and into my left lung. I am extremely fortunate that the blood clot did not stop my heart as it passed through.
“I had an extremely enormous blood clot…”
At that point, it became clear that Coumadin was not working for me. I was switched to Lovenox injections, and have been clot-free ever since. Very thorough testing was done, and the doctors still are not completely sure why I have such a severe blood clotting problem. But, I will require blood thinning medication for the rest of my life. Nearly ten years later, I had to give birth to my son nearly three months early because I developed HELLP Syndrome. Blood clotting disorders are a known risk for this syndrome. My liver was about to rupture, and I had almost no platelets. There was no choice but to deliver him so early or he and I both would have died. it was a long journey, and it still is. He is now four years old. He is still learning to walk and talk, but is very smart and has a good prognosis for the long term.
I have learned to just take life as it comes, do my best to take care of myself, and know that life can change without warning for any of us. So, enjoy each day.
“So, enjoy each day!”
What an incredible story! It is not easy to walk through life-altering situations, its a completely different thing to live in it and seemingly never escape. It is true, “Life can change without warning for any of us.” We cannot get caught up in the pain, we have to live, breathe, and take each day for what it is, a blessing!