Survivor Spotlight with Heather Davidson

My Survivor Story…..By Heather Davidson

My nightmare began on December 27th, 2016 . At least, I felt like this is when it all began but actually it began on May of 2016.  I have dealt with a hormonal imbalance for many years.  After numerous naturopathic remedies, Endocrinologists, Primary doctors, support from friends and family, I decided to take my last option available to me, birth control pills. Marvelon was Marvelous! I felt myself again for the first time in many years and was living life to the fullest again.  Little did I know that this “magical pill” was doing more harm than good.

I had Sinus and Septoplasty surgery on November 1, 2016.  This was a simple Day Surgery and I was only off work for 2 weeks to recover.  The only reason I needed 2 weeks off is to catch up on all the lost sleep that I didn’t get from the week before. After returning to my teaching job I noticed a charley horse pain in my left calf that would come and go.  I found sitting caused more pain while moving and walking made it feel better.  I developed eczema around my neck and had major night sweats for a few weeks.  I kept telling myself it was from the surgery and that my leg must hurt from potassium deficiency.  The pain continued into December. I remember going Christmas shopping with my mother and I couldn’t wear my favorite heeled boots as the charley horse pain was becoming more painful.  I seemed to lose my energy more quickly and even climbing up 2 flights of stairs to get to my classroom seemed like a huge challenge.  I jokingly asked my administration to put in a chair lift as I was breathless upon getting to the top. Again, self diagnosing, I thought I just must be out of shape because I had not exercised since before my surgery.  I just felt I never bounced back from surgery the way I should have.

My family noticed over Christmas how I had a hard time walking.  After leaving my mother’s house to return home on December 27th ( a short 45 minute drive), I couldn’t walk thanks to my left leg pain.  I told my husband how I thought I needed physio and finally decided to go see my family doctor. The doctor listened to my heart beat, measured my left leg and checked my blood pressure.  Shortly after that, she told me to immediately go to Emergency Department as she feared I had a blood clot.  I remember laughing at her and saying I was too young for this.  After waiting hours at the hospital, the ultrasound technician called me in and told me that yes, I had an ankle to groin left leg DVT.  I was sent home with a prescription of Xarelto and told to follow up with my family doctor.

The next day I went back to my family doctor. Again my blood pressure was off and I had a lot of PVC’s when listening to my heart beat.  She was worried that these clots were also in my lungs.  She called the hospital and they rushed me in for a VQ lung scan.  I knew immediately after the test that the worst news was coming my way as they made me wait in a waiting room filled with Kleenex boxes.  I was told 2 clots were in my left lung and I was lucky to still be alive.  I was in shock when I heard the term 2 PE’s in your left lung. I remember crying for hours as I called my family to give them the news.  I was supposed to be going to a Buffalo Sabres game that evening with all of them.

I was hospitalized for 3 days in a hospital that had no beds.  I was placed in an emergency ward surrounded by patients with pneumonia and influenza.  A week after coming home, I had pneumonia which wasn’t easy on my poor lungs.

The next few weeks were a challenge.  I could hardly walk and was sleeping at least 16 hours a night.  I needed to rely on my husband and mother to pretty much do everything.  I was told no lifting anything over 5 pounds for at least a month.  It was very difficult emotionally to go from an active person to a dormant person.  The worst part was that I have a 6 year old boy who witnessed all this and wanted his mommy back.

My nightmare, as I refer to it, has taught me a lot over the past 10 months.  I am still learning who I am, who I want be and who my friends are and who supports me in my life. supports in my life.  I have learned to truly love myself.   I am lucky to be alive! I and thankful, appreciate am grateful for my second chance.  Recovery has not always been easy and I have been faced with many challenges along the way but I believe this experience has made me a stronger person.  I am beginning to work out again, build back my strength in my lungs and my muscles.  I am able to play with my son again and not always tell him that mommy is too tired.  I am able to go out in the world again and not panic that this experience will ever happen again even though some days this is a struggle more than others.  I am climbing a mountain, ready to reach the top and start my journey down. By sharing this story I hope to raise awareness to support those who are struggling.  I give huge thanks and gratitude to the 2 Facebook support groups I joined that have helped me tremendously in my recovery.  I hope my story will help others.

Survivor Spotlight with Vikki Mathews

survivorspotlight1

My story began February 1st 2017.  Eight days before turning 18, a horrid headache hit me very suddenly. It felt like a very bad migraine, in which usually pain killers, a nap and a dark room would cure. Three days later, I still had no relief.   I sought help and was told it was a classic migraine. I received migraine medicine, which I was happy to accept, as it wasn’t the first time I had a migraine that lasted days. Over the next week I tried a few more migraine medicines and days of rest to help.  I spent my 18th birthday in awful pain.
On February 20th, at 5 am, I woke up with a blinding headache. I rang in sick to work and immediately made another doctors appointment. On this day, I got sent to A&E. The right side of my body was numb and weak.  I was vomiting and had a massive headache which are the classic signs of a stroke right? Apparently not, the ambulance team and doctor at the hospital told me it was stress headaches.  I was sent home with more migraine tablets! I recovered from a mini stroke at home and spent over a week in bed. I was in and out of consciousness.  I was also having seizures (which I didn’t know were seizures until much later). After another complaint of head pain to my doctor, I finally got an MRI.
Finally, on March 13th, I got a phone call to get to hospital for immediate treatment. Here, they found a secondary bleed and 2 blood clots in my brain. They also told me that I had a mini stroke in February. I was diagnosed with Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis and put straight on Clexane and Warfarin. After experiencing another seizure, I was told that I was experiencing partial seizures in my arms due to scarring on my brain from the clots.
I found out in June my clots and bleed had disappeared.  My brain looked much better! In September, after blood tests, it became apparent that I had a genetic mutation called Prothrombin Variant Heterozygous Mutation causing my blood to clot more than usual.
This mutation combined with the contraceptive pill, triggered clots to form in my brain. I still struggle every day with the effects the clots had on my brain, despite my brain “appearing” okay on scans. Before this, I never even thought someone my age could get blood clots anywhere, never mind in the brain and be at risk of a deadly stroke or sudden death. I am still coming to terms with what I have been through myself, but still try to raise awareness where I can of the rare side effects of the pill and the signs and symptoms of thrombosis and stroke. I would like to think I could prevent this from happening to someone else by raising awareness.