Advocate For Yourself.


Advocate for yourself.

If I had advice for anyone, especially because I work in the medical field, it would be to advocate for yourself, and if you can’t, find someone who can. You don’t need to have a medical degree, just a gut feeling. It’s vital and I’ll tell you why:

In February of this year, I got a terrible pain in my right arm—like, I’m talking I almost fainted from the pain. I was about to leave for the ER and I texted my Doctor (because we are tight like that) to tell her where I was going, but she told me to come to her office first. I reluctantly did. She saw me and asked me to do some movements with my arms, which I did, and I could barely straighten my arm. She then told me it’s most likely a muscle or tendon issue, but to go get an ultrasound just in case. But I knew it wasn’t any muscle or tendon issue. It was like my body was whispering to me, “it’s a blood clot”. So I told my doctor that I really felt like it was a blood clot. Mind you, I have never had a blood clot and I didn’t really know the exact symptoms of one. All I knew was my body was screaming at me that this was something serious. I have never in my life been someone who gets bruises, nor do I swell when I’m injured, so there were no physical signs/symptoms on my arm.

So, I went down for my ultrasound and the tech was looking for an hour and a half, and come up with nothing. He told me it was carpal tunnel and at that point I felt like screaming, “I’ll show you what carpal tunnel is!” while squirting the gel for the ultrasound in his face. Obviously I didn’t, mostly because I was in too much pain. So that’s when my mom became my advocate and asked if the cardiologist could come in and look. The cardiologist came in and told me to point to the exact place where I feel the pain. So I did, and guess what? He found the blood clot immediately! At this point it was a superficial clot, not a deep vein thrombosis (which is the scary one you can die from). I went on my way with some acetaminophen and the doctor told me to soak it to prevent it from turning into a deep vein thrombosis. I followed the doctors orders, and for the most part kept it business as usual— only refraining from lifting for two weeks. I continued to run as the pain was bearable if my arm stayed close to me and bent.

Two weeks later I was still feeling lots of pain, so I went back to the doctor and she sent me for another ultrasound to see if it changed into a deep vein thrombosis. By the time I got to the radiology department it was pretty late and everyone wanted to go home. The tech did my ultrasound and said the clot was bigger, but not a DVT (which is information they aren’t supposed to tell you, only a radiologist can give you those definitive answers) and told me I could go home because all the radiologists had left for the day and that they’d call me the next day. I went along with my routine as planned and even forced myself to get up in the morning and run despite the clot making me EXHAUSTED. Around 9:00 am my doctor called me while I was at work sounding urgent:

“Caroline, please tell me you didn’t run this morning”.

Uh oh… my superficial clot had turned into a deep vein thrombosis and I needed to go the ER immediately. The moral of this story is to always, ALWAYS listen to your gut. There was ABSOLUTELY no reason a healthy, young, athletic person who isn’t on my meds would get a DVT. I had no visible signs or symptoms on my arm (usually the arm becomes swollen and purple/blue). All I had was my pain and my gut feeling.

They never figured out why I got it. It’s still a (scary) mystery.

Here are some tips on getting the healthcare you deserve:

1.     Don’t be afraid to ask questions! It’s the doctor’s job to answer any and all the questions you may have. If they act like they don’t have time for it, find a new doctor.

2.     Be prepared if you can. I always bring a list of symptoms I’m experiencing, because I know once I walk into the office I’ll forget like half of them. Of course, if it’s an emergency it’s more difficult to have a list at the ready. In that case, try to have someone you trust go with you to the ER.

3.     Always voice concerns you have, even if it’s someone else doing it for you. If my mom didn’t ask for the cardiologist to come in to find my clot I would have gone home thinking I just had carpal tunnel syndrome **eye roll**

Caroline Plank