Returning to a Full Life with DVD and MTS

Melanie Holcomb, 46

My story starts after I had been sick in bed for ten days with a high fever. I am a busy mom with three kids and I did not take the time to go see my doctor. I just waited it out and was starting to feel a little better. I knew I was weak and dehydrated, but thought I would get well on my own. One day, I tried to get back into my routine but I felt a sharp pain in my leg all day, like I had pulled a muscle. That evening, I collapsed. My leg just went out from under me. My family had to help me get to a bed.

Deep Venous Disease (DVD)

We didn’t know what was happening or what to do. The skin on my leg was blotchy. I called my doctor. We thought it might be an allergic reaction. Within an hour there was significant swelling. It was getting worse so we went to the emergency room. By that time, I could not move my leg at all.

The skin on my leg was blotchy and there was significant swelling.”

Road to Diagnosis and Treatment

Deep Venous Disease (DVD)

When we arrived at the hospital, I was in a lot of pain. My leg was three times its normal size. They did an ultrasound and found a blood clot. I was given blood thinners and quickly transferred to a larger hospital. Once there, I found out that my vein had collapsed and I had a condition called May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS). The doctor theorized that during my illness I had gotten dehydrated enough to cause the blood clot and the clot triggered the MTS.

I went through a procedure to remove the clot, insert a filter and place a stent. The filter was later removed and the stent stayed in place to keep my vein open. It was an emotional time for me. I was anxious about my recovery but I received great support from family and friends. It took two months to get back to my normal activities. Now I can do everything I did before, but I have to take precautions like wearing compression stockings. I drink a lot of water and am more proactive about my health.

Deep Venous Disease (DVD)

My vein had collapsed. I had a condition called May-Thurner Syndrome.”

How Others Can Take the Step Toward Better Health

I think women, in general, we tend to be those super people that can do everything at all times and don’t really take time for ourselves. We just kind of charge ahead and keep doing what we’ve got to do. I would tell others to pay attention when something unusual happens and go see your doctor. Get it checked out and take care of yourself. Follow the advice of your doctor. Drink lots of water. These are simple things you can do to stay healthy and keep doing the things you want to do.

Deep Venous Disease (DVD)

Model for illustrative purposes only.

read

Standing Up to Deep Venous Occlusion

Deep Venous Disease (DVD)

Model for illustrative purposes only.

Michelle Copeland, 49

About four years ago, I started to develop a deep aching pain in both of my legs. Although both legs bothered me, the throbbing was more prominent in my left one. This continued as my legs became extremely sensitive to the touch – so much so that people would ask me if I were diabetic, even though I wasn’t. I became concerned and went to my doctor, but everything checked out normally. I assumed everything was just in my head.

But it wasn’t. Over time, my legs became so uncomfortable, that I was in pain just taking my dog for a walk. And then it started to become bothersome to go to the gym. I started getting a lot of leg cramps in the middle of the night, mostly on the left side. I remember waking up six times a night trying to make it stop.

But it didn’t get better. No matter how I tried to take care of my feet and legs, everything continued to worsen. My feet became so dry that I developed deep fissures. And in general, my health began to decline.

Emotionally, it was draining and I was anxious all the time. I thought “maybe I just have cancer”? Those self-defeating thoughts made me feel worse. And this was very difficult as I tried to remain a positive role model for my children.

Over time, my legs became so uncomfortable that I was in pain just taking my dog for a walk.”

Road to Diagnosis and Treatment

For more than two years, I went through a battery of tests. My primary care doctor at the time didn’t know what was going on. So, I was referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. And then to a neuropathy specialist and a podiatrist. With all the problems in my feet and the varicose veins that had developed over the years, I needed help. My podiatrist felt that I should consult a vascular specialist after visually inspecting my legs.

After all the doctors I had seen, I thought it would be a waste of my time. But what did I have to lose at this point? Why not take the step and do everything possible to get help?

When I saw the vascular specialist, she ordered an angiogram, a special test to visualize how blood was flowing in my legs. To my shock, she discovered my iliac vein (a deep vein located near my abdomen) was completely blocked. I was officially diagnosed with deep venous occlusion (DVO), a rare, yet serious condition where blood flow is obstructed in the leg.

Not only was this a shock to myself, but also to my mom and children. No one in my family had this type of vascular disease. I had never even heard of such a condition. Through my web searches and all my research, nothing like this ever came up. It was scary to know that this disease was behind all those years of terrible symptoms. Despite the rarity of the condition, I felt lucky that it was finally identified.

Within a few days of diagnosis, I was scheduled for a procedure where a small catheter was inserted into the vein and the doctor was able to visualize the blockage. The procedure was performed to remove the obstruction and a stent was placed, which allowed the blood to flow normally, as it should. Within 24 hours of the procedure, my symptoms were completely gone. It’s pretty amazing how that little stent can make so much of a difference!

Deep Venous Disease (DVD)

To my shock I was diagnosed with deep venous occlusion (DVO), no one in my family had this type of vascular disease.”

How Others Can Take the Step Toward Better Health

It’s been about 15 months since my procedure and I’m finally starting to feel normal again. I never thought it was possible after everything I went through.

But I am in this great place and so happy to share my story with others. For those faced with similar circumstances, I would encourage them not to give up. Even if you need to go to several doctors—take the step and get checked out thoroughly! Your health depends on it.

Sometimes what you read online isn’t always accurate and it doesn’t encompass every aspect of the disease. But a specialist can evaluate you thoroughly, provide resources for support, and appropriate options for therapy if you need it.

I’m grateful to now be in this position of positive health and I wish others the same on their journey to wellness.

Model for illustrative purposes only.

It was scary to know that this disease was behind all those years of terrible symptoms. I’m grateful to now be in this position of positive health and I wish others the same on their journey to wellness.”

More Patient Stories

PAD Stories

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Many PAD patients experience a gradual decline in activity level and quality of life which can go unnoticed for years. Learn about Joe’s suspicions and his perseverance to seek help.

Read Joe’s Story

CLI Stories

Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI)

Early intervention can be key for critical limb ischemia (CLI). Learn about Mark’s struggles and triumph to overcome CLI.

Read Mark’s Story

DVT Stories

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can strike quickly with little notice. Learn more about Reid’s condition and his road to recovery.

Read Reid’s story

Helpful Resources

PVD Doctor
Discussion Guide

Get helpful tips and advice on how to talk to your doctor about a PVD screening.

Download now

DVD Brochure

Find out more information on DVD by downloading this helpful brochure.

Download now

Third-Party Resources

Apps

CardioVisual

A mobile app built by cardiologists, to simplify understanding of most cardiac and peripheral vascular conditions and treatments.

cardio visual app
app store, google play

Find a Doctor that Treats DVD

If you think you may have DVD, it is important to get help. Talk to your doctor, or use our Doctor Finder tool below to find a DVD specialist near you.

 
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The opinions and clinical experiences presented herein are for informational purposes only. Individual results may vary depending on a variety of patient specific attributes and related factors. Dr. Raghu Kolluri has been compensated by Philips for his services in preparing and providing this material for Philips further use and distribution. The patients featured on this page are not patients of Dr. Kolluri.

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