DVT Awareness Month – The Ins and the Outs of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Were you or someone you love diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?
If so, it can help to hear about the experience from a fellow survivor. To facilitate this we asked our REJUVA team member, Stacy, to share the details of her own DVT story and what she learned along the way. Read on for more about her story + top tips for navigating the physical & emotional components of recovery.
Meet DVT Survivor, Stacy
I have come to know this phrase all too well. As if suffering a blood clot at the mere age of 20 wasn’t enough to make me feel like a walking dinosaur, family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers were sure to remind me. The fact is, DVT can occur at any age and not one single individual is “too young” as they say. I mean honestly, who ever feels that they’re just the right age for such an injury? So chin up… you’re not alone and even more so, here at RejuvaHealth we’re the last ones that will throw you a dowdy pair of compression stockings and say problem solved.
What is DVT?
Let’s start with a quick overview of what DVT is and the risks that pose a problem to all walks of life, young and old alike. DVT is a medical condition that arises from the clotting of blood, usually in the calf or thigh, but can also occur in the pelvis area. The clotting of a deep vein extremity is particularly scary because there’s not always a lot of warning and the severity can escalate pretty quickly. This is why it’s especially important t to take care of yourself and listen to your body. A slight pain in you arm or leg may seem like nothing at first and you’ll initially think to just shake it off, however, don’t let such conditions prolong. Rather, take the initiative for further examination, as this little precautionary check-up could save your life.
What does it feel like?
Stepping outside of the medical aspect, you may wonder what it feels like. You can read all about the signs and symptoms with a quick Google search, but I’d love to share those “feelings” on a more personal level. The pain experienced is often at first localized, but may progressively expand into other areas. Pain and swelling in the area is common, and some people, like myself, notice a drastic difference in the temperature of the skin to the touch. For example, my leg was significantly warmer near my pelvic region and ice cold at my toes. In the beginning, my leg felt as though I had merely pulled a muscle, but within a couple of hours, I had lost the ability to fully extend it and walking felt as though I was dragging an anvil. It was clear something wasn’t right and that’s the point at which I decided to seek medical attention. I would advise against following in my footsteps! Get help before it becomes a bigger problem.
After the diagnoses, I felt like the nine days I spent recovering in the hospital had aged me 50+ years. I was released on July 3rd and tormented with the idea of celebrating the 4th in a swimsuit, as the battle wounds left on my belly from the Lovenox shots weren’t all that appealing. Not only did I feel physically a mess, but my spirits were also rattled. I was prescribed blood thinners, not knowing if I’d ever stop taking them, and was destined to draw blood every week to keep track of my INR (International Normalized Ratio), or as I like to refer to it, the rate at which I bled. In addition to this, I was on a restricted diet, and for the first time in my life my doctor told me to stay away from greens and cranberry juice. Yes, you read that correctly! As it turns, high levels of Vitamin K can alter the way warfarin works, making it difficult to effectively prevent blood clots. It took a while to get used the changes, but eventually I found a happy medium, where I could still get a taste of my all time favorite Brussels sprouts, and also test within range on my weekly INR.
What are some of the things about DVT recovery people don’t talk about?
A part from the lifestyle changes mentioned above, I also noticed some interesting changes in my body. While taking warfarin I gained some weight, which mostly was attributed to the change in my diet and the inability to workout given the injury. In the search for recipe ideas, I came across “The Coumadin Cookbook,” which I thought worth sharing as it helped keep me on a more healthy diet.
I also noticed my hair consistency changed, and it regrettably wasn’t for the better. I noticed I lost larger than normal amounts in the shower and in my brush. My hair was thinning right before my eyes, and it was alarming, as no one had mentioned this side effect of warfarin. Are you experiencing something similar? There are many different thickening agents out there, and while I encourage you to do your research, I found the brand Nioxin was what I preferred, as the minty smell wasn’t overpowering.
One weird, but also really interesting observation was that the pain in my leg was significantly affected by the weather. If a drastic change in the weather was on the upcoming forecast, I’d feel incredible amounts of pressure near the site of my clot. I had brought this up with several different doctors, but none of them had ever heard of anything similar from other patients. Seeming I had gone mad, I turned to DVT support groups online, like Dailystrength.org, and found that just like me, other people were discovering anomalies happening in their own bodies, many of which were also unexplained by their physicians.
What’s the deal with compression stockings?
Lastly, I can’t talk about DVT without mentioning, drumroll please… the dreaded COMPRESSION STOCKINGS! On top of all the physical and emotional changes, you’re forced to change your wardrobe and it isn’t quite that easy. No matter where you live, compression stockings don’t ever seem to fit in with the summer or winter fashion trends. However, I want to send along encouragement, because I found that compression stockings were my saving grace. As much as I absolutely despised the look and feel of the orthopedic ones I originally owned, they kept my Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS) to a minimum and had me on the road to recovery, with a reduced chance of developing a new clot. And hey, that’s the whole reason our Founder, Kelsey, created RejuvaHealth. To help you find fashionable compression stockings that make you feel GREAT, as well also help combat leg pain and fatigue. So don’t be a stranger, we have several different options that will get you through a hot summer day or provide a little extra warmth on a cold winter night.
Whether you need some style advice, or have a specific question about the fit, reach out to us - we’re all here for you. We also enjoy sharing war stories and hearing more from our fellow DVT-ers personal experiences. Until next time – take care of those legs.