Survivor Spotlight: Beth Williams

 I had hip arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum on February 2, 2017. The surgery lasted an hour and I was in recovery for 4 hours due to severe nausea from Percocet. They gave me Phenergan and sent me on my way. I had a 2 1/2 hour car ride home. I was not told to wear compression hose from my surgeon or the surgery center. I was told to take an aspirin 1x a day, drink plenty of water, do ankle pumps and quad sets every hour and get up and crutch around every 2 hours to prevent blood clots. I was also told that since they put a tractioning boot on my leg during surgery (traction my femur out of the socket to do the repair) that I should expect numbness in my foot. My husband and I were diligent with my pain medication and clot prevention. We even set alarms in the night to get me up and move around. 3 days after surgery, I awoke in the middle of the night with pain in my calf and foot.  My foot was hot and red but not swollen. My foot had been numb since surgery and I thought it was a result from the tractioning boot. I was also having side effects from my pain medications (Percocet and Indocin). I had decided to wean myself off of the Percocet and deal with post op pain because the nausea, hives, passing out was just too much to deal with. I called the surgeon to tell him about my foot and he said it was from the boot and to elevate it above my heart and to weight bear more when on my crutches. Later that day, I began to have shortness of breath and anxiety while lying in bed and talking. I also had hives. My husband called the surgeon again, same day and told him what was happening. The surgeon thought it was an allergic reaction to the Percocet and told me to stop taking them and to take a Benadryl. My hubby asked if he should take me to the ER in case it was a blood clot and the Doc told my husband to use his best clinical judgment. We did not go to the ER. My calf and foot continued to feel tight over the next couple of days. I asked my husband to massage my foot and calf for relief. I was also having shortness of breath, hives, dizziness, sweating and passing out. I called my surgeons office again 6 days post op and spoke to the nurse. She thought I was having an allergic reaction to the Indocin and told me to go to the ER. My husband took me to the ER and told them that I just had surgery and that he suspects I have blood clots and to run tests to find them. They did chest X-rays and blood work and found my d-dimer was elevated. They then did a CT scan of my lungs and found multiple clots in my left lower lung. My oxygen levels were normal. They gave me an injection of Lovenox in my tummy and sent me home. I was in shock and was crying in the ER. How could this happen to me? I did everything right. I didn’t even know that you could get clots in your lungs from your legs. Was I going to die? I was so confused and scared. Would a clot break off and go to my brain while I was sleeping? So many questions unanswered. I came back in the next morning for another Lovenox injection and then saw my GP that day. He started me on 15 mg of Xarelto 2x a day for 3 weeks and then was told to switch to 20 mg 1x a day for 6 months. The next day, while lying in bed, I began having sharp pains in my left lung and chest. I became extremely nauseous and thought I was going to vomit. I called for my husband and told him what was happening and that I was about to pass out. I got tunnel vision, couldn’t hear, and then passed out. He called 911 and they came within minutes and took me back to the ER. I had more blood work and chest X-rays, an EKG and was given another shot of Lovenox. They sent me home. I fought sleep for a couple of weeks following my diagnosis. I was terrified that I wouldn’t wake up, so I stayed awake until I couldn’t. I slept with my lamp on and pillows to prop me up so I could breathe. I was so exhausted and scared. As the days went by, I started to realize that I wasn’t going to die in my sleep. That I was a survivor. The fact that the blood clots that went from my leg to my lung didn’t kill me when it happened meant that I got a second chance. If I were going to heal from the clots I had in my leg and lung, I had to rest. The body heals when you sleep. Plus, not sleeping was creating a vicious anxiety cycle further causing lack of sleep. I began to sleep for longer hours at night and eventually turned my lamp off at night. Each morning I wake up is a gift. Each moment so precious. I’m slowly regaining my strength in my body. Having clots in your lungs makes everything you do a challenge. You feel tired all of the time. There are days where it’s hard to get out of bed. There are days when sitting up, it’s hard to hold up your own head because it’s that tiring. I also have developed vertigo since my PE and get extremely dizzy when I’m over tired. I have headaches everyday. I find if I drink 80-100 oz of water every day that I don’t get so dizzy. Today it has been 4 1/2 weeks since my surgery and 3 1/2 weeks since I was diagnosed with the DVT/PE. My hip is healing great. The lung pain is much less and I am able to do more and more everyday. I will admit I sleep about 10-12 hours a day. I’m that tired. I cry a lot. I cry because I feel like my life will never be the same as it was before. My lungs have been damaged. I just hope and pray that these clots clear up and I don’t have a reocurrence. I am going to see a hematologist in a month to get some genetic testing done. I’d also like to know exactly where my DVT is located. I’ve read that they can do a doppler scan of your body to find out where the clots are in your leg or pelvis.
Thanks for reading my story. I hope that my story raises awareness and helps others so they know what the symptoms are. With so much gratitude, Beth Williams


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