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A Scary Encounter with a Blood Clot

Mon, Apr  7, 2008 - By Kikan Randall

I just got out of the hospital for the second time in a five days. The back pain I encountered earlier last week turned out to be a massive blood clot in my left leg extending my hip down past my knee, a condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis, DVT. I spent last Saturday and Sunday in the emergency room in Fairbanks where I received the initial diagnosis and started on blood thinners to prevent any more clots from forming. The doctors told me I would have to wait for the body to naturally take care of the clot. Fortunately, I was able to get out just in time to watch the men’s 50km classic race, and it was very uplifting to see my longtime coach Frode Lillefjell take third overall and win the National Championship.

Monday morning I flew back to Anchorage and mostly stayed at home with my leg up. My leg had swelled to almost twice the size of my other leg over the weekend. Thankfully the swelling went down a little after resting. (I think the blood thinners kicked in). On Tuesday I got an appointment to see a vascular surgeon. Upon reviewing my case he immediately suggested a surgical procedure called lytic therapy where they send a catheter up the vein starting behind the knee and go up into the clot and spray out a drug that disintegrates the clot (like Pac Man). The other alternative was to leave the clot and let the body take care of it, but because the clot was so extensive there was a good possibility that some of the clot would turn to scare tissue leaving me with an ineffective, painful leg for the rest of my life (which would have made skiing very difficult). So as you can imagine, I chose to go for the lytic therapy.

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