Thursday, March 15, 2012

Plane pain: Diagnosis DVT

The last few days haven't been fun.  I returned from a great work trip to Istanbul, but landed in New York with some weird upper calf pain. Tightness, but seemingly unrelated to running (or even sitting on the plane, for that matter). Some google research eventually convinced me by Monday night that I had deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or clotting in the deep veins of the leg.  A closet hypochondriac, I opted to get it checked out when the pains didn't disappear by Tuesday morning and seemed to worsen.


After a brief examination, the doctor said that DVT was doubtful, but to ease my fears, ordered an ultrasound.  The ultrasound technician let me know that she could not say anything to me about what she might find, but that if she told me to go home I was fine, or alternatively asked me to go back to my doctor or to the ER, I was probably not fine.  She spent a lot of time going over the affected area (the test has her starting at the groin, and following the vein down your leg and back around behind your knee and down).  So, when she breezed down the upper leg, and then focused on the painful spot for several minutes, I had a feeling I wouldn't be sent home.

Fast forward 30 minutes, and my doctor was calling the room to talk to me about my results.  No, I didn't have DVT, but did have superficial thrombophlebitis, or clots/inflammation in superficial veins.  Not something I should worry much about, except to take some measures to get rid of these, and prevent them for next time.  No prescription of blood thinners necessary, just go off birth control pills, take an aspirin a day, and elevate the leg when possible.  Exercise was questionable--he didn't know so would get back to me. I had explained to him that I was running for the US at the World 100K championship in 6 weeks, and that the answer to this question was a serious one for me.

I ran the next morning, and my calf wasn't happy.  It felt a good inch shorter than it's normal tight self.  The pain did seem to be worsening, and the doctor never called back.  I finally called and was told he was gone for the day.  Not long after that, his colleague called to say that the ultrasound had been misread; I had both deep and superficial clotting and would need to start blood thinners immediately, and not to exercise.  Most cases would clear up in 6 weeks or so.

I explained my situation to him--that I had a major race in just under 6 weeks, and that lazing about wasn't ideal. He couldn't really tell me anything that I wanted to hear.  He couldn't recommend that I keep training, and couldn't give me a timeline for when that might be possible. But that I needed to start on blood thinners immediately, which is why he was calling, and that I should further discuss with my doctor a plan going forward. A quick google of blood thinners had me a bit freaked out.  No playing with sharp objects or shaving my legs for a while.  Blood thinners and Amy just seem to be a dangerous combo being that I'm quite possibly the most accident-prone person I know.

That was yesterday.  I had a painful night--a feeling of knife stabs into my calf.  I'm no closer to having an answer from my doctor, who told me he's still working to reach out to specialists and get more answers.  I will have blood work done on Monday after I've been on the medication for 5 days which will tell something about the level of something or other in my blood.

I'm stubborn, but not stupid, and if exercise is highly inadvisable than I'll be a good patient, but I'm extremely frustrated at the moment.  I don't want to give up on Worlds, but am not sure when I'll be able to run again.  Regardless of what the doctors tell me, I currently can hardly walk, so even if I had the go-ahead today, couldn't run.  It's hard to believe that the Ray Miller 50 was just over 2 weeks ago. Like they say, ultras are all about peaks and valleys and I seem to have taken a nose-dive off of a high peak into a rather deep valley.  

14 comments:

Meghan said...

BUGGAR! I am so sorry Amy. No doubt you'll get through it, but of course we all want it to be over with NOW. Thanks for keeping us all posted.

Justin Grady said...

Amy, I am so sorry to hear this. I wish you the fastest-ass (and right) recovery as possible. Want you to make the 100k Championship. And, most importantly, hope you are/will be fully healthy and fit overall. I am not claiming to fully know, but can imagine the frustration of this.

Ellie Greenwood said...

Please take care Amy! You have worn the US singlet once and done it proud and proved you earned it and will wear it again, hopefully in 6 weeks but if not then another year. Keep smiling and wishing you all the best x

Rooster said...

Hang in there girl! So sorry and wishing you a very quick recovery. Sounds like nothing to mess with

Casseday said...

I hate to hear this Amy, but hang in there. Ellie's comment is true, you'll get back. Take care of yourself and get healthy.

sea legs girl said...

Well, I guess we've had a long discussion, but I had no idea it was so painful! I think that will get better quickly with the blood thinners. Plus now you have a guage to let you know it is improving. It makes me angry to hear about the sloppy medical care you got. At least everything seems to be going the right direction now.

Olga said...

Holly crap, girl! My thoughts go out to you big time! Hope the help comes through fast and efficient!

Helen said...

Hang in there. Crappy timing. I hope the pain eases and the blood tests show that the meds are doing their job. No doubt you'll be back strong and fast but hope that it is sooner rather than later.

ultrarunnergirl said...

Bummer! Sorry this happened to you.

Hopefully the blood thinners will do their work quickly, and you'll be back to running in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed that fortunate circumstance happens -- if your past performances are any indication, the time off won't hurt you too much. You often have circumstances that leave you feeling under-prepared, but then go on to kill it.

I'm just glad you are going to be ok. Blood clots are no fun.

RunSueRun said...

Whaaaat??!! So sorry to hear about this Amy. About 5 years ago Chris dealt with a DVT (in relation to his atrial fib). Blood thinners are not fun, but you WILL get past this.

Sorry we missed you when you were down here last month.

mtnrunner2 said...

Damn, talk about being thrown a curve ball. Hope you get better ASAP.

And, I will admit I think about that every time I fly!

Melissa said...

Hi Amy,

Truly sorry to hear what you're going through. Sending good thoughts for a speedy recovery and return to running. You have a solid base, incredible capacity and a true love for running that will help you charge forward to even better things on the roads and trails ahead.

Hostpph said...

At least it wasn't so bad. but I glad that you are looking to going back to run.

john goodwood said...

Hi!
People always ask a question How to prevent deep vein thrombosis I hope you will find guide and tips about it.