Caitlin’s DVT began years ago.
- Factor V Leiden
No one could understand how an 18 year old, active, healthy girl had such a massive clot. I had never heard of DVT, and I was terrified.”
My DVT started when I was just nine years old. Yes, nine. However, it went undiscovered until 10 years later when I had my tonsils removed as a college freshman. I’d been recovering at home for about a week and a half when I began to feel pain in the back of my leg. I passed it off as a pulled muscle, but pretty soon the pain radiated into my groin and abdomen and became excruciating. My surgeon dismissed it as sciatica, but it was obvious to my family and me that there was something else going on.
Rewind for a moment: When I was nine I had surgery and was in the hospital for a week, then had a catheter and was on IV medication at home. That’s when the doctors believe it all started. When I was twelve, I began having severe abdominal pain. The doctors blamed the pain on my “young ovaries” and put me on birth control. What they didn’t know was that putting me on birth control only fueled the clot.
Back to my freshman year and the intense pain. My doctor finally sent me to my gynecologist, thinking it was more ovary problems. The gynecologist found nothing. She said it was probably a bladder infection, then sent me home for the weekend with a bottle of antibiotics.
The following Monday, the pain had gotten worse, so my family doctor promptly sent me for a CT scan, which revealed a massive DVT that ran from behind my knee, through my thigh, into my abdomen and the main vein to my heart. I was immediately sent to the ER where doctors told my family I probably wouldn’t survive. No one could understand how an 18 year old, active, healthy girl had such a massive clot. I had never heard of DVT, and I was terrified.
By the time I was diagnosed, the clot had become so massive and completely calcified (hardened) that doctors believe it started many years before. They also told me I had two clotting disorders - Factor V Leiden and APS. These factors, along with the surgery and immobility when I was young, helped create a massive DVT clot. Putting me on birth control, the doctors believe now, only fueled the clot.
No one thinks things like this can happen to them until it does. DVT is not an “old persons” condition. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. Know your family history, know your risks, and think twice about birth control.