After getting diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (or DVT -- a blood clot), my doctor put me on an anticoagulant medication. It treats dangerous blood clots and prevents new ones from forming.
When I left the hospital I had to take it every day at the same time for about a week so it would build up in my system. It’s important that you inject this medication in a fatty part of your body, so I gave myself the shot in my stomach. It caused a little pain at first, but I think I was also very nervous because I had never done anything like this before.
Once I was done with the first drug, I was ready to move to another anticoagulant that’s used to treat patients with deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (a life-threatening condition that results when a blood clot travels to an artery in your lungs). Some people take it to help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
This blood thinner can have side effects like severe bleeding, headaches, and joint pain. I might also bruise more easily after an injury.
I’m constantly thinking about how serious these side effects are for me. I can’t afford to get hurt, bruised, or bleed, because, unlike for most people, it’s going to take longer for the bleeding to stop.
I’ve also noticed that my body strength has changed. I’m no longer as strong physically as I used to be. This had a significant effect on my mental health because I like to be adventurous and live life.
I also have to be monitored while I’m on this medication. My specialist sends me to get a prothrombin time and international normalized ratio test, also known as PT/INR. This test determines how well the drug is working to prevent clots from building. It does this by measuring the time it takes for your blood to clot. It’s important that my test results are in the normal range. If they’re too high, I might have unnecessary bleeding. If they’re too low my blood could be more likely to clot.
My medicine has other side effects, but they haven’t caused me problems. I have had to make some lifestyle adjustments, especially with my diet because foods high in vitamin K work against the drug. It’s essential to live my life more carefully and always listen to my body.
I’ve learned that there are different anticoagulant medications that don’t require a PT/INR test, some with similar side effects and some side effects that are more severe. In some cases if you bleed there’s nothing they can do to reverse the bleeding. Talk with your doctor to learn medication will be best for you.
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