So while I've been scolded lovingly by some (and told by a friend that she was mad at me for not going to the ER sooner), I have been VERY upset with myself. I was *sure* the pain in my leg would go away and that it was just a sore muscle from being on my feet more than usual for my new job. And there were times where the pain did seem to go away, reaffirming my belief that I was just making a big deal out of nothing. Until, that is, I realized that it was what I'd feared... a blood clot. And by that point in time, it may have already spread to my lungs. I'm grateful that I'm still alive, knowing full well just how close I was to dying. I know I'm not in the clear and will be on high alert for the rest of my pregnancy and then the rest of my life, but I'm grateful for the gift of my life and grateful the baby appears to be okay.
I wanted to thank everyone for their support as I've been going through this. I received various texts, phone calls, emails, visits, prayers, comments on blogs, etc during this time, which has helped me realize I'm not alone. And when you're stuck in a hospital bed for about a week, it can be easy to feel alone at times!
So, I have an acute blood clot in my left leg. Apparently it starts around mid-calf and goes up past my knee (holy cow, this thing must be huge!). And part of it broke off and traveled to my lungs. I have bilateral pulmonary emboli (or, in other words, blood clots in both my lungs), but I don't know how large they are. I do know that I started breathing well enough to get off of oxygen on Wednesday or Thursday last week, so I'm taking that as a good sign. I still feel a little short of breath sometimes, especially after walking or talking a lot, but I seem to notice it less and less.
I am on blood thinners and will be taking them the rest of my pregnancy and after. However, the pill-form of the blood thinners are not safe to take during pregnancy, so I will be giving myself injections in my stomach twice a day for the rest of my pregnancy. I did talk to a doctor who recommends being on blood thinners the rest of my life, but I may be able to switch from the injections after I'm no longer pregnant. Blood thinners don't help dissolve the blood clots or help with pain. They simply prevent any future blood clots from forming.
Your body slowly breaks down the blood clots on its own, which I was told might take a few weeks. In the meantime, I'm still in pain, but I have found that lying down with my legs up seems to hurt the least. However, walking helps promote circulation, so I was told to walk around as much as I can handle with the pain but not to push myself too hard. I will be wearing compression stockings too, which will help with circulation.
Other than the blood thinners, I’m not on any different medications than I was when I went in to the hospital. In a couple weeks (when I’m 12 weeks along), I will stop taking both Metformin and progesterone, which I am happy about.
So what caused the blood clot? I have no idea. I didn’t go from being really active to being inactive. In fact, I’d say I was pretty active right up to when I got the blood clot (and even attempting to continue being really active despite the pain the blood clot in my leg resulted in). I didn’t go flying. I did have some risk factors for developing one, which include having had one before, being pregnant, and being on progesterone. But as to whether any or all of these played a role, I doubt I’ll know. A doctor I met in the hospital wants to run some genetic tests after I’m no longer pregnant because he said that despite my risk factors, it is very abnormal that I would get a blood clot on two different occasions by my age.
What is to prevent the blood clot from breaking off more and traveling to my lungs or elsewhere? When I had my first blood clot, I was sent to the ER right away and given injections in my stomach for (I think) 5 days, which I was told would help the blood clot from breaking off. So now that I’m actually on those same injections, I guess that will help. But an IVC filter (or blood clot filter, also known as a vena cava filter) was surgically placed through my neck into the large vein that carries blood from my lower extremities. So it will catch any clots that might break off before they make it to my lungs or heart.
I went to my OB today for a follow-up appointment from the hospital. She did an ultrasound and the baby looked okay. I heard the heartbeat, and the baby measured at 10 weeks 4 days (although I’m pretty certain that is at least 2 days later than it should be, and it is 4 days later than the baby measured when I had my first ultrasound at 6 weeks 2 days). The OB said she wanted to refer me to a perinatologist, and she gave one a call. The two of them decided I should transfer my care from my OB to the perinatologist. So, I have my first appointment with him on Monday. I hope I like him. And I hope I can deal with the pain in my leg long enough to make it through the 90-minute appointment.
I am also grateful that I had the blood clot I did back in 2003, because the blood clot in my leg felt the same and was more or less in the same place. If I hadn’t experienced that blood clot, I might not have realized what was going on until I was in much worse shape than I was (which was bad enough, granted).
And, again, I am grateful for all the support I have received and am still receiving. I know that many people out there were worried about and praying for me, and I have felt a lot of love at this difficult time despite the trials I’m going through. So thank you!