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A 19 Year Old Girl with DVT & PE Clots: Suzanne Lambregts Story

Posted July, 2012

My name is Suzanne Lambregts. I'm a 19-year-old girl who has survived two consecutive pulmonary emboli (PEs) and deep vein thrombosis (DVTs) blood clots in a period of 9 months. My primary care doctors and hematologists have not been able to come up with a reason for either incidence. My purpose in sharing my story is to raise further awareness about blood clots, as well as provide inspiration to those struggling. The date of my first diagnosis was June 1, 2011, when I learned I had DVTs in my left arm, total occlusion to the subclavian vein, and an acute pulmonary embolism in my left lung. I was working in a saw mill piling lumber when at work I suddenly had to hyperventilate just to breathe. I took a few days off work on bedrest and it seemed to settle down. So I returned to work, and that same night my left arm swelled to at least twice its normal size. I then saw two different doctors in Edson before one suggested they should look for clots and that’s when my clots were all found.

I spent a week in the University of Alberta hospital in Edmonton, Canada, where a series of tests were done. No leads came about to explain why this had happened so suddenly. I was on birth control pills for a period of 3 months before the diagnosis, but my doctors felt that the rapid onset and extent of the clots I had suggested that factors beyond the oral contraceptives were likely. It took me about two months, but I regained my strength and continued with work, and started my college education in massage therapy. I seemed to be responding well to the blood thinners until around Christmas time when I started getting random chest pains. Also, my left arm would swell after any massages I did. In January 2012 I was having chest pains that would double me over whenever they hit. My instructors convinced me, even though I was reluctant, to get checked out at the emergency department. Because my vital signs were stable, the emergency room doctor told me to come back the following morning for an ultrasound. They then found that my subclavian vein had blood clots again and that there was a large mass in my right lung. Angels must have been looking after me because again, I survived. This time I spent a week in Red Deer Regional Hospital where internal medicine doctors ran a variety of tests and nothing abnormal came back. We were all at a loss for words. I used to be an extremely healthy and active girl, but once you get hit with two blood clots, even daily life changes. I’m young and have no idea if another clot will hit, but I'm a survivor of a silent killer that could have taken me the first time. It has made me realize how much of a gift life truly is. My experience has taught me that no matter how much you don't want to have the trials you are faced with, they can be conquered. I try to be steadfast & strong and know that the shadows of darkness will not remain forever. It helps me to know that I am loved & it's okay to reach out; it doesn't make me weak. I'm hopeful that we will find a cause for these clots soon and that eventually researchers will be able to learn more about the nature of blood clots and how to prevent them for the sake of others.

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