Life is NOT fair. I have always known this to be true but never fully experienced what this really means until a couple a weeks ago when I was diagnosed with an acute dural sinus thrombosis (aka blood clot in my brain).
I've had countless questions about my blood clot, so I wanted to share my story to help others in case similar pain is experienced in the future. Blood clots are quite scary, and I believe I am incredibly fortunate to be here today. God was clearly looking out for me. If you’re curious, here’s what happened.
My Blood Clot Story
On Wednesday, July 19th, I went for a 10 mile run after work in 90-plus degree heat. Despite the high temperature and humidity, I was highly motivated and honestly felt great. I hit the 600 mile mark for this year. How ironic that this would be last run for a while… In the late evening, I talked with my friend Naomi in Japan for at least an hour that night too and really was feeling fantastic.
Unfortunately, things took a quick turn. I woke up on Thursday morning with excruciating pain in my head. This was probably the first time I had a severe headache in my life, so this horrific feeling was entirely new. I went to work and self-treated with Ibuprofen thinking the pain was maybe related to minor dehydration and would eventually go away. Throughout the day, I had moments of relief but the underlying pain remained. Ironically, I had lined up a 7.3 mile run with a colleague after work. Fortunately, we decided late afternoon to skip out because of the high temperatures and humidity and my “headache.” This decision may have literally saved my life. I didn’t sleep well Thursday night.
Still No Answers
Friday morning the pain was stabbing to the point I was crying. I never cry from pain, and I mean NEVER, so I should have known this was quite serious, especially considering this was the second day. I felt dreadful and decided it was worth going to urgent care. My diagnosis was simply a “tension headache.” The treatment was a shot of Toradol, an NSAID, to offer pain relief. The doctor also gave me the drug Zofran for my severe nausea. I started feeling better and worked the rest of the day Friday. By Friday night, the effects of the pain medication had worn off, and I was in excruciating pain once again. I could not eat or drink. I slept restlessly from around 7:00 pm Friday night into Saturday morning around 9:00 am. Crazy!
Saturday morning around 10:00 am Rob drove me back to the urgent care. The pain was hellacious. With a wait time of upwards of 2 hours, we decided to go elsewhere (thankfully). The second urgent care saw me immeidately. The doctor highly recommended a CT scan since she said my symptoms were concerning considering the high level of pain and the fact that I never have headaches or migraines. This particular location didn’t have CT capabilities, so she ordered the CT scan in Huntley and advised I drink some fluids with electrolytes in the meantime.
Rob picked me up a G2 at a nearby Jewel, and we were soon on our way to some pretty heavy news. Upon arrival, we filled out some paperwork and the scan was soon underway. We waited in the waiting room for what felt like an eternity, watching Food Network of all things, for the results of the scan. The rad tech came for us finally, and told us my urgent care doctor wanted to give us the results over the phone.
The Official Diagnosis - Blood Clot in my Brain
At that moment, I knew it was bad news since the original plan was to return to urgent care to discuss results. As soon as she said “blood clot” over the phone, I broke down. Thankfully, Rob was there to hold me and tell me things would be ok. The memories of the following moments are still a bit of a blur as I was wheeled over to the emergency room. One benefit of my scan is that it took place in an outpatient building at a hospital campus. My team of doctors, nurses, and other medical staff provided care that was nothing short of excellent. I am grateful for the staff, especially my nurses, who treated me with an incredible amount of compassion.
We don’t know the true cause of the blood clot in my brain at this time. I will have testing done at a later date to see if the cause was genetic. In the meantime, I am on blood thinners and am being monitored weekly. As of now, it is unknown if blood thinners are required long-term.
Looking to the Future
All in all, I mostly feel relieved and fortunate after this experience. I truly have been in good spirits for the most part. Blood clots totally suck, but I am doing well. I know I will eventually resume all normal life activities, with some minor changes here and there. The other thing I want to acknowledge is the incredible amount of support from my husband, family, friends, and colleagues—phones calls, notes, texts, flowers, cards, chocolates, gift boxes/baskets, etc. The amount of outreach and love during this ordeal has been a bit overwhelming in the best possible way. It is all appreciated, and I swear my heart might explode! Hehe!
My best advice is to trust your gut instinct no matter what. Seek medical attention immediately if you sense something is really wrong. Things can literally happen overnight with severe consequences, even when you least expect it. With that, hug your loved ones a little tighter and make the time to do the things you love. Life is not fair, but it is certainly beautiful, chaotic, and remarkable at the same time.
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