On Father’s Day in 2014 I went out to run steps. It was about noon, high humidity and in the mid 80’s. As usual I was probably dehydrated, but I had a large bottle of water for after my exercise. The first five sets went fine, however the sixth set was a scary turning point.
While coming off the steps I began to feel lightheaded and weak. I made my way back up the steps and into the building. There was a wonderful lady there who recognized I was in trouble and offered to help. I remember telling her if I could get to a chair I would be okay. Oddly everything began to turn white like a fog that was rolling in.
Minutes later in the same way the fog rolled in, it started to roll out. I was in a chair with about 10 people gathered around me, one of them holding a defibrillator. Fortunately the defibrillator was never used. After about 15 minutes I had recovered (but not from the embarrassment) and was on my way home. Never touched the water I had sitting in the car – typical of me.
Several people have suggested that event was when I had my multiple, bilateral pulmonary embolism. Though I don’t agree, it’s possible. I think that event just put the finishing touches to one of the three risks of MTS – dehydration. It’s likely I passed out due to dehydration, high heat and not eating up to that point.
After I got home I went to work in my home office where I can be found most days and most of the time. I’m in my office chair 10 or more hours a day, only getting up for food and bathroom breaks. That was the second of the three risks – lack of motion – sitting.
Dehydration makes the blood thicken and clot quickly. Sitting stops or slows the blood in the legs and groin allowing it to stagnate and clot. The final risk is having compression of the iliac vein in the left and sometimes (but very rarely) the right leg.
On the Wednesday following that Sunday I went out to get the mail and almost wasn’t able to get back into the house. There may have been swelling I was unaware of, but it appeared I got in real trouble in the hundred feet to the mailbox. That Thursday I went to the doctor and from there off to the hospital.
When they did the ultrasound they were not able to locate a clot. I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s a strong indicator that you have MTS. The clot or blockage occurs higher than that test can accurately read. The better test is a CT or MRI/MRA, which I later had.
I spent 5 days in the hospital under the care of a doctor that didn’t really know what he was doing. I went through a couple of more doctors and several medical mistakes before finding a doc that knows his stuff. I’m left with a 100% blocked left iliac vein, but I have several collaterals providing the return blood flow.
I honestly believe that MTS saved my life. At the time of the clot in my iliac or shortly thereafter, I had a multiple, bilateral pulmonary embolism. It was described to me from the CT as looking like I had a shotgun go off in my chest. The clot that formed or hit the area where MTS occurs must have been very large, but was stopped by the area where the iliac was compressed. Without MTS that clot would have found its way to my lungs and the rest would be history.
Hard to image that anyone could be grateful for the above experience, but trust me, I am. At age 59 I am fortunate to have a wonderful and compassionate wife and we have 14-year old twin daughters. I have the world by the tail or perhaps it has me, but either way I’m hanging on for the ride…
Steve from Coastal Alabama