Survivor Spotlight: Traci Patton

My story actually starts many years ago. I’ve had issues with my period, since I first started at age 13. I’ll spare you all the gory details, so the men reading won’t be grossed out, but I’m sure a few of the women here know what I’m talking about. So I’ve tried everything you can think of to fix this issue. Mostly, it’s been “Let’s try this birth control, let’s try that one”. I got pregnant at the age of 18, and since my period would skip three or four months at a time (even on the pill), I had no clue what I was going through wasn’t just the norm. So I kept taking the pills. It ended in a miscarriage. I was shattered. I found out I was pregnant again about a year later, and around three months after I left my abusive fiance, I carried him to term, and on April 14th, 1995, I gave birth to my only child, my pride and joy, Dillon.

     Fast forward 18 years. I had still been having issues with my period, and went to my GYN, requesting a hysterectomy. I had been bleeding almost non-stop for three months. I was anemic, exhausted, and so very tired of bleeding. I literally begged my doctor to give me a hysterectomy. He told me, at the age of 38 and with an almost 18 year old kid, that I was still too young to have the surgery. It was too permanent. He talked me into a birth control patch that worked well for women with my “issues”. So in February of 2013, I started the Ortho Evera patch.

     I work as a Police/Fire/EMS Dispatcher in my town, and on 4/10/13, I was heading in to work for an 11 pm to 7 am shift. My left hip was aching, and I couldn’t get comfortable. I tried sitting, walking, propping my leg up, keeping it flat. Nothing helped. It was just achy and sore. I sat there all night, trying to figure out why it hurt. I was having trouble breathing, also, but thought that was due to my asthma. But I got thinking of a friend I have on Facebook, who just went through blood clots, and was starting to wonder. I remember reading her story, and worrying. I went into the bathroom, and realized that my leg was swollen pretty badly, and very hot to the touch. So I did what everyone does. I consulted the Internet. I typed in my issues, and the very first thing that popped up was “You have a blood clot, get to the hospital now!”. Of course, I ignored it. Instead, I finished my shift, and called my Mom on my drive home. I tried to get her to talk me out of my panic. She finally convinced me to call the ER, and tell them my symptoms. They told me to get to the ER, NOW, and they were sending an ambulance to get me. I told them no way. All I could think about was I didn’t want the people I work with to think I was panicking, and I didn’t want them to see me like that. So I took an extra ten minutes and shaved my legs, and at 7:30 am on 4/11/13, I drove myself to the hospital. Thank God nothing bad happened on the way there!!!

     At the ER, they immediately put me into a room, and started doing tests. My D-Dimer was through the roof, according to the ER Attending, and my leg was swollen to three times the normal size. So into the Ultrasound room I went. I knew the tech well, as he was engaged to a friend of mine, and I had seen him many times to check on my “inner workings”. He stuck the wand into the groin area, right where my inner thigh and groin meet. He saw the clot right away. His exact words were “Oh, honey. I don’t wanna say you’re a statistic, but you are now”. The clot in my leg went from the top of my leg almost to my ankle. It was 24 inches long. And then he sent me off to the CT. There, they found 5 clots in my lungs. Three in my left lung, and two in my right. I was told multiple times I was lucky to be alive. My doctor told me that I had a huge DVT in the back of my left leg, which is the side I wore the Ortho Evera patch on. She said it had broken off the 5 bits, which traveled through my heart and into my lungs. Somehow, I survived all 5 times!! Then the DVT broke free. If it hadn’t have lodged in my groin, and caused the clot in my leg, it would have stopped my heart when it tried to pass through. She also told me I was being admitted to the hospital, and would be started on Lovenox shots and oral Coumadin. I was expected to be able to inject myself. I am not a fan of needles, so this was torture!

     I was in the hospital for 6 days. This included my son’s 18th Birthday. But the wing of the hospital I was in had been the Maternity wing when I had my son. So the room we had cake and ice cream in was the room he was born in. And then he came to the hospital on 4/17/13, and took me home, exactly 18 years to the day that I had brought him home. The only other difference was that it wasn’t snowing when he took me home, and it was when I took him home. Lol

     I was on Coumadin for 7 months. After it cleared my system, I had the full blood panel done. I actually insisted on it, since my GYN was so certain it couldn’t have been the patch that caused the clots. My tests came back 100% normal. No clotting factors at all. But come to find out, the Ortho Evera patch had a list of warnings. “Don’t take this medication if”. There were 6 major warnings, and I matched 4 of them. Don’t take this if you are over the age of 35, over a certain weight, have a sedentary job, and if you take Carbamazapine (or Tegretol, an anti seizure medication I take for Trigeminal Neuralgia, a nerve disorder in my face). I *NEVER* should have been put on that patch. But I don’t read the warnings, because I have a tendency to read “While taking this you may experience…” and I get that symptom. It’s a subliminal thing. lol

     I’m now almost 4 years out from my Clot experience. I still worry every day. When my asthma acts up, when I get pain or swelling in my leg, or my heart beats faster. My lungs have never been the same, and never will be, according to my Pulmonologist. He has started me on two new inhalers that have helped tremendously! It’s like night and day. But if I exert myself, it shows. I wheeze, pant, and sound like a freight train going uphill. I still have issues with my period, and am about to consult with someone who will hopefully let me get the hysterectomy I’ve wanted forever. I let my former GYN talk me into a uterine ablation, which worked for about 2 years. And now I’m back to square one.

     Thanks for reading my story. I don’t show up as much on the Survivor page, but I’m always there, ready to give support or encouragement. You can always ask me anything. I’m an open book. Love, hugs, and prayers to you all! 🙂

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