Over the last couple weeks I’ve had a sharp stabbing pain that I recognized as a clot a couple inches below my collarbone in non-muscular tissue. Being on anticoagulation already, I don’t go running to the doctor every time I feel a clot anymore. I just don’t. It’s a waste of my time and theirs because unless it is big or causing a bigger issue there is nothing to be done beyond what I’m already doing. So when the pain hit, I considered the location, decided it was a non-issue, and resolved to just deal with it.
As a result of choosing to let it sort itself out, I’ve looked borderline indecent while absentmindedly rubbing the area to get relief from the stabbing pain finally resulting in the clot being broken and absorbed rather quickly and rising to the surface today looking, for all intents and purposes, like an everyday bruise.
But as I was laying in bed last night contemplating the pain I was feeling, I had a déjà vu to Hawaii not quite 9 years ago and the days after I was hit in my chest/shoulder by another surfer’s board in the water, leaving an injury that got more painful with time, not less, and that took way too long to heal. Here I am, far too relaxed on some deck someplace. Do you see my injury?
Don’t see it? Let’s look a little closer…
Can you see it? Pink scrape? Seems like such a little thing, right? A barely nothing, not even big enough to worry about ointments or dressings kind of scrape. Nothing worth going to the hospital for, that’s for sure.
Except that when it happened it was 4 months after the first time I dropped to 1% body fat from about 19% for no apparent reason. No apparent reason doesn’t mean there was no reason, it means the reason wasn’t identified or diagnosed. My autonomic nervous system was being taxed by SOMETHING and my digestive system and circulatory systems began to go haywire: I stopped digesting food altogether and my heart started racing constantly, resulting in a thin that made clothes look great on me and me look like I had an eating disorder. I was experiencing the first extremely clinically significant symptoms of widespread systemic microclotting and no one I went to for help realized what was happening or why, so I went untreated and walked around looking like a very attractive skeleton. Because no one identified clotting as an issue, no one told me flying from the mainland to Hawaii and back could cause significant problems.
The mark on my shoulder was painful. It had a V in the middle where the tip of the surfboard hit me. But it didn’t really bother me and didn’t seem unusual until after I flew home. Did you catch that? It took me almost 9 years to catch that it all got worse after I flew home. Then, while the superficial bruising turned shades of purple, blue, and green, the V in the middle developed a lump and the whole area was red and visibly raised.
We’ve all had bruises that resulted in a knot, but when have you had one that resulted in a knot developing a week after the fact?
Uh… never… unless it’s a hematoma – a clot.
It was exceedingly painful for months, which defied all reason, with painful stabbing that radiated down and along blood vessels, taking months to heal. Here I am 4 months later trying to cover a redish lump in the same spot with my bag strap:
Once déjà vu hit and I stalkerbooked my old photos, everything came back. The stabbing pain that I now recognize as easily as I recognize a headache. The bag that was my go to whenever I was at the beach or pool that summer because the strap was wide enough to cover the visible lump on my chest. My confusion about why a little scrape from a surfboard would take so long to heal. Not getting why it would get worse after it seemed like it was getting better.
It profoundly amazes me that I never realized before last night that my first clearly identifiable blood clot went undiagnosed and happened 2 and a half years before the car accident that resulted in my collarbone and first rib compressing to pinch the nerve bundle and artery feeding my left arm, and 4 and a half years before the clotting disease was finally diagnosed. Now I know the feeling of clotting so well that I decide whether it is worth the time to visit a doctor or not as casually as I choose socks.