Be aware of the signs of blood clots & deep vein thrombosis

Kari Steele, Guiding Hands Home Health Community Liaison

        In a previous career, I was a general manager for a large hardware store. I worked hard to get where I was, and I was very proud. I worked 80-hour weeks and made a great salary.
        One day, I woke up and I just felt bad. I thought I was getting a cold. I was tired and had this tiny pinch in my chest that didn’t make any sense. I couldn’t work without becoming winded. The illness got so bad, I gave in and went to urgent care. I had self-diagnosed my symptoms on the internet, and I told the nurse that I had gallstones. We found out that was not the case in a matter of minutes. Three hours later, she came back with a concerned look and told me I was suffering from a pulmonary embolism.
        I spent four days in the hospital. I had no idea what a pulmonary embolism was or how dangerous they are. Of course, I didn’t look at any of the warning signs because I didn’t know there were warning signs.
        Two weeks before I started to feel sick, I had a really bad charley horse in my calf. I always got charley horses when I was younger, so I didn’t think anything of it. This one was different. It left two big knots that were extremely sore and painful. I got some (bad) advice and took a ball and rubbed the knots out. This was the thing that almost killed me.            The two knots in the back of my calf were called deep vein thrombosis, otherwise known as DVT. When I rubbed them, I broke them apart, and a clot traveled and got caught in my lung, which is a pulmonary embolism.
        So, what are the warning signs? Even though blood clots can happen at any age, if you are over 60, you smoke, are overweight or sit for long periods of time, you have a higher risk for a blood clot. The following are warning signs of a DVT:
        • Swelling in one or both legs
        • Pain or tenderness in one or both legs even if it’s just when you stand or walk
        • Warm or hot skin to the touch on your leg
        • Red or discolored skin on your leg; i.e. weird bruising
        • Veins you can see
        • Tired legs
Here are the warning signs of a pulmonary embolism:
        • Shortness of breath
        • Coughing up blood
        • Sharp pain in the chest
        • Lightheadedness
        If you experience the symptoms of a blood clot, make sure to see your doctor right away. If you believe you might have a pulmonary embolism, seek medical treatment immediately. You know your body better than anyone and you know if there is a problem. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Your doctor can treat blood clots with blood thinners. If you have questions, visit
        Kari Steele is the Community Liaison for Guiding Hands Home Health. If you have questions on blood clots or understanding Home Health Services, contact her by calling 419-898-5909.


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