People who know me well might say I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. My doctor, if she weren’t bound by privacy laws, might say I’m a lot of a hypochondriac. Between the whooping cough and a host of other symptoms that turned out to be nothing, I’ve seen her a lot this year.
So yesterday, when I was sitting at my computer, eating lunch, reading old Hyperbole and a Half posts—hey, I deserve a noontime break, even if I don’t leave my office—and my leg started hurting, I thought, “No! I will not overreact and call the doctor.”
And I didn’t. I finished work and went to the Farmers Market with Paul, we cooked dinner, I did laundry, we read. All the while, every few minutes, I’d get a pain in my right calf like I was about to get a charley horse, but it would subside before it became that painful—symptoms that sounded a lot like a blood clot. (Which I’ve feared having enough to see my doctor on at least two other occasions, thanks to this very scary but informative Coach Jenny post.) I tried to put it out of my mind, or chalk it up to taper crazies (even though I’ve been tapering pretty much since Smuttynose).
I fell asleep at 10, and at around 1:30, I awoke to more calf pain. I’d change positions, I’d try to stretch it, nothing helped. So, I was awake for the rest of the night, both hurting and worrying. (So, I stayed home from work today.)
I called the doctor. I went in. Because there was no swelling or discoloration, she said the chances of it being a clot were low, and that I probably strained something. Doing what? Sitting motionless, reading a blog? Allie Brosh is funny, but I wasn’t laughing at her posts hard enough to strain a muscle in my calf.
The doc sent me for an ultrasound, just to be safe. “Aw, man,” I thought. “Another expensive medical test that will probably turn up nothing. I’m the Girl Who Cried Blood Clot.”
But no! I was right. (For once.) I have a superficial blood clot (that is, not the kind that’s likely to break apart and spread to your lungs or heart).
It’s probably not dangerous (knock wood) (though she did say there was some chance of it spreading, so I have to go for another ultrasound next week), and, according to the cardiovascular expert she spoke to before calling me, running the marathon will only do me good. (Unless my leg hurts enough to throw off my mechanics. I’ll wait and see how I feel Sunday. I’m not above a DNF.)
My doctor was shocked that this would happen to someone so young and active. Though I’ve been taking medication that can increase the clotting risk slightly (medication I’ll no longer be taking), this article makes the great point that no studies have been done to show whether athletes have a greater risk than the average person of developing a clot. And I could see how an athlete (or an athlete’s doctor) would dismiss symptoms like mine as some kind of ache or pain from training or racing.
So, I stick by my rule: When in doubt, see the doc. Don’t ignore weird pains, especially if your body is saying, “Alert! This thing is really legit.” Though I suppose if your body is talking at all, that’s a cause for concern in itself.