As moms, we all know how important it is to take care of our health. Often when competing priorities come into play, taking care of our physical and mental health becomes our last priority. For me taking care of myself was cyclical. When I felt terrible and my energy levels were low, I would exercise and eat well. I would feel better or life would get busy, and I would stop exercising and eating well and then repeat the cycle.
Fast forward to January 2020. I had just turned the big 4-0 and was consistently exercising the last six months.
I was six months into my workout program. One morning after a strenuous workout, I felt a tightness in my calf. The muscle seemed hard and warm to the touch. I suspected I had pulled a muscle, so I iced it and rested for three days. After a few days and no relief, I Googled my symptoms expecting to find further evidence that I had a muscle tear or strain. Instead, all the symptoms pointed to Deep Vein Thrombosis.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?
Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT is a blood clot that can happen in the lower leg, thigh, pelvis, or arm. If untreated there is a chance that the blood clot can break off and end up in your lungs, leading to a pulmonary embolism (PE). If not treated quickly a PE can be deadly.
Deep Vein Thrombosis can lead to pulmonary embolisms which can be deadly and are called the silent killer. In 25% of people, the only symptom is sudden death.
After reading Google, I may have panicked slightly but not completely because I know Googling your symptoms is a terrible idea. I did call my doctor immediately though.
My doctor told me to get to the nearest emergency room.
After running tests and getting an ultrasound on my leg, my doctor confirmed that I indeed did have a DVT. As the main caretaker of my daughter, I was terrified. Eventually, after a year of blood thinners and appointments with various specialists, the threat dissipated. The blood thinners though had created another issue. I had become anemic and struggled for another year to get my iron levels and energy to normal. Eventually, I was able to stop the blood thinners, and my iron levels returned to normal.
Days after my scare I was scanning my Facebook feed, and I noticed that a friend had a Pulmonary Embolism (PE) and was fortunate to have made it to the emergency room in time to save her life.
Since my DVT, I have remained vigilant. I often feel paranoid, looking for signs of a reoccurring clot.
DVTs are more common after you have had one. Per the Centers for Disease Control’s website, 33% of people who have had a blood clot will have a reoccurring blood clot within 10 years.
Since my DVT, I am more aware of the commonality and risk factors for women.
There are many risk factors, like increased periods of sitting, being overweight, having recent surgeries, taking hormonal birth control, or being pregnant. Factor V Leiden, which is a genetic mutation affecting blood clotting, can also increase your chances. Fortunately, I did not have this mutation. If you have symptoms of a DVT or PE, do not hesitate to get to your nearest emergency room. It could quite possibly save your life.
» » » » » RELATED READ: Not the Kind of Mom I Wanted to Be: When Mom Gets Sick « « « « «
Changing my habits to prevent future DVTs has been key.
If you don’t have symptoms, reduce your chances by maintaining healthy habits. I have recently logged four years of at least three days a week of exercise and have managed to reduce my body weight significantly. Since my blood clot, I have met several health goals such as running several races including a 10K and half marathon. I still struggle with my nutrition at times. But I want to be around long term for my kids, so my exercise routine has to be a marathon and not a sprint. I am continuously working to improve my long-term health in hopes of not falling into the 33% statistic.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.