Go with your gut: Terra's story

The following was written my SSMI patient Terra. Thanks, Terra!

I have been a patient of Dr C. since 2012. No major medical issues except for typical triathlete pains and nags. No one would have thought that I would end up with a DVT and PE (blood clots) after racing. It started way back in July with a 12 hour drive from San Jose back into Phoenix. I was coming back home to catch a 5 hour red flight into Indianapolis for the 70.3 Muncie half ironman. I was swimming the relay portion (1.2 miles) and had no problems during the past 2 months prior where my training consisted of swimming 1.5 miles 3x a week. Every time I fly or drive long distances, I wear my compression sleeves.

During the swim, which was 24 hours after I arrived in Muncie, I ran into some issues about 3/4 in. Basically, I could barely breathe and was choking on water; so much so that a fellow swimmer helped me to the lifeguard where I immediately peeled off the top of my wetsuit in attempst to breathe. I hung out with the medic and lifeguard for a good 10 minutes, still trying to catch my breath. Now, I am a RN and probably should have listened to my brain, but I decided to push on because others where counting on me. I still struggled a little, yet I made it ashore and pasted the chip to my teammate. I immediately left the course cause I was exhausted, still coughing up water. I got back to the hotel, put my compression sleeves on and jump in a car for a 6 hour car ride home-I slept.

Fast forward to the end of July when I flew back into Phoenix from Wisconsin, another 5 hour flight. Did some moving and went for a run on a Saturday. Now I hadn't been running in while cause I have been recovering from an overuse injury that had occured awhile back. Getting off the treadmill, my left calf was tight, like a cramp. Did not think anything of it, got a massage on Sunday which didn't help either. Monday I called the office for an appointment cause I was limping. One look by Luke, PA and the thought was a pulled or strained calf muscle so I needed an ultrasound the next day. Tuesday I ended up getting a MRI done instead which proved I had a small blood clot in my left calf. Doc urged me to go back to get an Ultrasound done on that same leg. I went home to rest as ordered

Doc, relying on his gut instincts, thought there might be something more when he never received a call regarding the Ultrasound done that day. Instead he called me stating I needed to go to the ER for a high resolution CT of my chest and labs. Specifically a d-dimer [a blood test that measures a substance that is released when a blood clot breaks up] which I had to tell the ER doctor to order because he wasn't going to. While waiting for labs to come back, I went for another Ultrasound which was also negative for a clot in my leg. The d-dimer came back elevated which indicated a possible PE therefore I did get my CT scan proving I also had a clot in my lung.

I can say two things after this: If you run into problems breathing during anything, especially when racing with a wet suit on and you traveled a distance to that race, think twice about going on. It is a race and not worth risking your life over (which I should have done and let the medics take me ashore). Secondly, I thank Doc for trusting is gut and sending me to the ER that night and for getting a MRI done because of the 2 ultrasounds that I had done, neither showed that I had a clot.

If Doc says do something, DO IT! There is a reason for it.