British Heart Foundation: Understanding blood clots
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Blood clots can spell trouble for your body once they cut off the blood supply in your veins and arteries. The case of 55-year-old Jo Spencer highlights how the pesky clumps can lead to horrible outcomes. This dangerous nature makes knowing the warning signs front and centre.
Blood clots are gel-like clumps of blood that can form in response to an injury or a cut to stop you from bleeding.
However, blood clots sometimes crop up without no good reason, putting you at risk of severe health problems.
While heart attacks and strokes are some of the best-known daunting outcomes of these gel-like clumps, Jo, 55, lost her legs due to a clot.
The Head of Client Relations for a financial company, from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, was devastated when a blood clot in her main aorta artery cut off the blood supply to her legs.
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Unfortunately, this left surgeons with no choice but to amputate Jo’s legs.
Although she has had diabetes since age seven, she was in good health when she noticed the toes on her left foot turning black and blue back in May 2020.
She said: “As soon as I saw my left foot, there was a part of me that knew I was going to lose it.
“I suffered from sores on my feet and legs from my diabetes, but this time my left big toe was black and blue. It looked really bad.”
After being admitted for surgery, surgeons amputated Jo’s left leg below the knee, only for her to wake from the operation and start experiencing pain in her right leg.
She said: “The whole time I just kept thinking, ‘I’ve got my other leg so it’s all going to be OK’.
“But I started to feel pain in my right leg. At first, it felt like the nerve pain sciatica, or a muscle ache, but when I told the nurses they called the doctors right away.
“My right leg was going cold and I was losing my pulse, so I was taken back to theatre for investigative surgery to see if they could save it.”
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The doctors called Jo’s husband, David, and told him they have to amputate the right leg as well.
“It was horrific. I had no idea what was going on. I only knew what had happened when I woke in the hospital from surgery. I was distraught,” Jo added.
Colour changes on a leg and pain like Jo experienced could be red flag symptoms of blood clots. The NHS advises to look out for red or darkened skin and any swelling in this area.
Other blood clot symptoms in your leg could include the likes of:
- Throbbing or cramping pain in one leg (rarely both legs), usually in the calf or thigh
- Swelling in one leg (rarely both legs)
- Warm skin around the painful area
- Red or darkened skin around the painful area
- Swollen veins that are hard or sore when you touch them.
The health service urges asking for an urgent GP appointment or getting help from NHS 111 if you experience symptoms like these.
Since June 2021, Jo and her husband have been fundraising to make life-changing alterations to their home to give Jo back her independence.
She said: “At the moment David has to carry me up the stairs to bed every night.
“The whole point of the alterations is to make our home safe and to enable me to do all the things everybody else does independently.”
In October last year, Jo even decided to take part in a tandem skydive to raise money for the renovations.
To donate to Jo’s fundraiser, visit: www.gofundme.com/f/help-jo-live-in-our-home.
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