National Thrombosis Week | 1st – 6th May 2017| Prevention & Protection from Venous Thromboembolism (VTE)

Amy Steer

In February this year I started to feel a lot of pain in my calf and found it difficult and painful to walk but I assumed that I must have pulled a muscle. After about a week of having this pain my mum, a retired nurse, told me that I should get it checked out as she was worried it could be a DVT. I didn't really believe this since I’m young, have never smoked and walk a lot, but I went to the doctor anyway. The GP examined my leg and after feeling it diagnosed the problem as phlebitis and prescribed anti-inflammatory cream. I told the doctor my concerns of having a DVT but she assured me it definitely wasn't a DVT.

The cream didn't help and the pain in my leg got worse. A week later on my way to work, my chest started to feel quite tight while walking: I suddenly felt dizzy and then collapsed as I got indoors. I took a taxi to the GP’s surgery (I had an appointment that morning) but collapsed outside. The doctor carried out an ECG and then sent me to hospital in an ambulance. Once in the hospital I had to sit on the ward for what felt like a couple of hours until a bed came free. After an examination, tests and scans, a DVT and PE were diagnosed. I was given Heparin and Warfarin each day.

After 3 days in hospital I was sent home. I was prescribed Warfarin for 6 months and given support stockings to wear. The doctors believed that the pill was the cause of the DVT as I was on the Evra contraceptive patch. I believe that there were other causes however, in particular the weeks leading up to my DVT in which I was really stressed at work, didn't drink enough water and spent too much time in my usual position at my desk with my legs crossed. The haematologist however seemed to think that these circumstances would not have been a factor.

One of the most frustrating aspects of my experience has been conflicting advice from different doctors and nurses. In particular, one doctor told me about 6 weeks after my DVT that I should stop wearing support stockings. However, when I saw the haematologist and told her that I was still getting discomfort in my calf I was told that I need to wear them for 2 years after the DVT to try to repair the damage and that I should never have stopped wearing them.