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Updated February 20, 2005
© Airhealth.org

Messages 2003

12/16/03 Chris Latter, 56:

In February '02, after a flight Nairobi to Amsterdam I had a deep cramp spot in my left calf. Having read about DVT I went to the airport medical centre. They told me that a dvt would have phsical signs, swelling, discolouration etc, so I went away relieved and the cramp dissipated over the next 2-3 hrs.

In February '03 after a Bangkok to London flight the same symptom occured in the identical spot. Because of the advice at Amsterdam I did nothing about it immediately. This time the cramp did not go away. I cycled 60 km the next day and was in great discomfort. My doctor was sure I was ok (saying I was fit etc etc) but sent me for a scan which showed up positive.

I assumed I had some pre-disposition and requested a thrombophilia screen blood test. When the result was normal I was left wondering why I had got 2 DVT's from 6 flights in 13 months. Your site explained it all to me, as I am a very active athlete. Now I am actively preaching your gospel to my fellow runners and cyclists.

12/2/03 Rebecca:

Re. electrolyte beverages for avoiding economy class syndrome: for people like me who need to avoid sugar, an infusion of nettles makes an excellent electrolytic beverage including the potassium that helps to avoid increased urine production.

Nettles can be purchased in bulk from health food stores and infused with hot water during flight. Longer infusion is more potent, if you can do it before leaving and have room for containers of liquid.

11/7/03 Robert Smith :

After flying from Manila to San Francisco, I had chest pain that I thought was heartburn (following my first pizza in more than a year!). When we went to bed I could not lie flat; if I did the pain in my chest was unbearable. The pain got worse and radiated up my neck, shoulder and arm. I thought I was having a heart attack and we went to the ER. An xray and CT scan showed a big clot in my lung. Now, four weeks later, I have stopped coughing up blood but still have some chest pain when I inhale deeply or cough. But compared to the alternative I am doing good!

10/27/03 Patrick Clancy:

I am 6'7" and was stuck in coach behind an idiot who put his seat back on a flight from Atlanta to Rome. I noticed the swelling in my leg immediately after the flight and called my doctor in Chicago. When I returned she†"forced" me to stay in the hospital for 7 days. Then I was on blood thinners for eight months. I'm fine now.

10/20/03 Glenn Cole, 42:

Last July, after a short flight to Fargo, North Dakota from Sacramento, I ran up a set of stairs and then had a very strange sensation of heart palpitations and weird feelings in my chest as a clot moved through to my lungs, and then extreme shortness of breath along with profuse sweating.

A month prior I had arrived in Istanbul, Turkey with a severe cramp in my right leg. I'd had similar cramps, but this one was inordinately painful. I walked daily to excercise out the pain and I got in a couple days worth of good volleyball games too, where I reinjured my toe (injured playing softball 2 months prior.)

Returning to the US, I slept through a 3 hour ground delay and then slept most of the way back to California. On arrival in Sacramento, my calf was more excruciatingly painful than ever and it felt like I had a golf ball behind my knee. Two weeks later the swelling had gone down and my doctor told me I was in great health and that there is no evidence that flying causes blood clots. I insisted on an ultrasound scan but it the technician was ill and it was cancelled. Then came the flight to Fargo.

On return from Fargo I proceeded to have my ultrasound appointment. Voila, my leg was clogged to the hilt. A catscan showed my lungs were filled with clots. I couldn't believe I was still breathing. After 8 days in the hospital and six months on warfarin I am flying again, following all the recommended precautions. But the circulation in my leg isn't right and I am certain I have had some damage to my leg.

10/14/03 Betsy, 48:

Two days after returning to Houston from Spain, I noticed shortness of breath. A couple of days later my doctor prescribed antibiotics. A few days later, after a chest xray, he thought it was bronchitis and gave me inhalers. It kept getting worse. I couldn't sleep except sitting up and I would lose my breath completely. I thought I was dying. After another xray my doctor sent me to a pulmonologist who suggested a VQ scan, which was positive, and they started anticoagulants and steroids.

I am a nurse but I was not a great patient. I had seen way too many people die of PE and I was flat out scared. I coughed to the point of breaking three ribs.

The other day we had a female, age 32, with DVT and bilateral PE. I was horrified to see the doctor stop heparin after only 2 days. (DVT/PE patients need to insist that doctors follow American College of Chest Physicians consensus guidelines.)

10/9/03 LK:

I wish the airlines would tell people of the risk of blood clots. I never knew of this until after my clots occurred and I was looking for an explanation why I got them. I am still on coumadin and probably will be for life.

10/8/03 Amy Hamilton:

I'm going to Ireland later this month. My doctor left a standing prescription for Lovenox for me right after I had my PE in July 2001, so I'm already prepared for the long flight. Between the Lovenox, heavy-duty compression hose, and Gatorade, I should be the best-prepared person on the plane.

By the way, my doctor and his staff like your website. I told one of the docs at the Mayo Clinic (where I go for more specialized stuff) about it and he scoffed until I told him one of his colleagues had posted a message on the site! Keep up the good work!

9/1/03 LA:

I flew a night flight on April 16, 2003 from Los Angeles to Boston with ATA Airlines. On arrival in Boston my right foot was so swollen I couldn't get my shoe all the way on. I was so short of breath it was difficult to walk - in addition to the foot problem. I slept with the foot raised and the swelling subsided a bit, but flared up severely once I started to move about. I also had chest congestion and developed a persistent cough.

Back in Los Angeles the swelling continued with the left leg getting worse than the right. Then I had severely painful cramping in the calf muscles when I lay down in bed, which has continued for several months now. I'm still short of breath and my legs are developing red spots and burning. Drinking 2-3 quarts of bottled water daily and taking aspirin seems to relieve it. I haven't sought medical attention - I don't have any medical insurance. I don't know what to do now, but I do know I should probably never fly again on a long flight, if at all.

8/8/03 Joe Gentile, 39:

I was extremely active, lifting four days per week, running and thinking about entering competitive cycling again. Then last year I developed a DVT from repeatedly falling on my right side while snowboarding.

After a week I saw a doctor who prescribed some anti-inflammatories. Then a physician friend diagnosed me with a massive blood clot and I spent a week in the hospital. I am extremely lucky not to have dropped dead as the clot ran the entire length of my leg.

I am taking warfarin and wearing one compression stocking to the knee. At six months post hospital discharge, cramping and pain were too much to sustain any running or cycling but the compression stocking made things bearable. I am lucky to be able to run at all. Cycling is a little easier.

I would like to hear from other active people who have been able to overcome this and are once again competitive within their given sport/event. It would be nice to know that I won't have to settle for a ten minute mile.

I found a physician in Iowa City who is on the cutting edge of treating postthrombotic syndrome (PTS) with minimally invasive techniques. Her name is Patricia Thorpe, MD. She led me to a web site called the Vascular Foundation. www.vascularfoundation.com

8/2/03 Peter Illig, MD:

As a former regional medical director for a major airline, I am currently writing a book on passenger health, one that I hope will be viewed as an authoritative reference manual.

It is up to the passenger and his or her physician to be informed as to how flying might affect an individual's health, and it is up to the industry to get this information out to the traveling public. Even some doctors do not realize that it is not a great idea to discharge a post-surgical patient directly home on a commercial flight. At my airline alone, we recorded on the average about 300 medical events per month, resulting in 15-20 diversions....many of them unnecessary.

I see your web site as honestly trying to inform airline travelers about DVT risk, so I do feel that our interests are similar. . .and that is to help others know how to prevent and recognize this sometimes silent killer.

7/31/03 Howard Brown, 44:

After a flight from Newark to LAX my leg muscle felt tight. I was doing a lot of walking during my stay in LA and I thought I had just pulled a muscle.

Back in Newark 2 weeks later my ankle was hurting but I had fractured the ankle in the past and sometimes it hurt. The pain in the back of my calf felt like a Charlie horse. Over the next 4 weeks I kept off my leg and ankle as much as possible and used a heating pad to ease the ankle pain. Then a week later my entire leg and foot swelled up and I couldn't even stand on it. I started thinking that maybe I had fractured my ankle again. I decided I would go to the doctor in 2 more days if it didn't get better .

It didn't get better and I went to the emergency room where they determined that I had DVT and I spent 7 days in the hospital.

The doctor said I was lucky that the clot didn't travel to my lungs. Now I am on warfarin and have been for the past month. My ankle stills swells up some and leg still is much redder that my other leg.

6/30/03 Lorri Lee Lown:

After sleeping on a short flight from LA to San Francisco I had a severe cramp in my left calf, much too high for a typical calf cramp. It was warm to the touch with slight swelling. By day three I couldn't bear weight on it without severe pain. I‚d heard that endurance athletes are at risk for blood clots, so I went to get it checked.

The first week on anticoagulants was miserable: bloody noses, nausea, extreme fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, etc.

I rode my bike today, the fourteenth day after the flight. Only 4 miles (commuting to get my blood drawn, then to my job at the bike shop, then home). Felt really strange, like my leg isn't connected to my body any more. I cried in the lab waiting for my blood test because it's so hard to believe that just two weeks ago I was 37, strong, healthy, and incredibly fit.

Being a professional coach, I have lots of fears about crashing and bruising while I'm on the warfarin. I wrote to a couple of cycling lists and personal contacts, and I was amazed at the response. So many athletes have been affected by DVT, either suffering themselves or knowing someone who has had a DVT, PE and even a couple of fatalities.

6/17/03 Pat Rasmussen: Last November, flying from Dallas to Minneapolis, I got a DVT and a PE. I didn't have health insurance, so going to the hospital was costly. In January I realized that I was working on that trip and that workers' compensation should cover this. They asked many questions of me and my doctor and agreed to pay all my hospital, doctor and medication bills, over $5000. They are taking steps to recover from Northwest Airlines.

(This could be an important breakthrough. Workers' compensation agencies could become the first government offices to put pressure on US airlines. Pressure is needed. This weekend Airhealth.org Executive Director Mike Reynolds took a Northwest flight similar to Pat Rasmussen's. There was not one word about blood clots with the e-ticket, on the seat-back flight safety card, in the oral safety briefings, or in the World Traveler magazine. Meanwhile Pat Rasmussen still struggles, now up to about 90% of her previous stamina and still plagued with bouts of leg swelling.)

6/1/03 Shelly:I was a fit paramedic, 43, who did 2-3 mountain bike rides of at least 30km each week. My flight was a short 1 hour and then 4 hours to Raratonga from NZ for a wedding. I did leg exercises and got up and walked around on the plane except while sleeping for ninety minutes.

On the second day in Raratonga I felt pain in my right calf similar to cramp and some chest pain like heartburn. It subsided by morning, then came back with a vengence that night. I knew I had not injured my leg and thought of DVT. The next day the doctor agreed it was DVT, gave me some aspirin, and told me to see my doctor back home. I bought compression stockings for the return trip.

Back home, the leg pain was excruciating but no swelling or discoloration. The doctor said it was an injury, not DVT, but I insisted on an ultrasound scan. Ultrasound showed DVT. Clexane injections and warfarin started. I developed back pain and winded feeling, but doctor said "I'm sure you don't have PE." At the hospital for clexane, I mentioned the winded feeling. They did ECG, chest X-ray and arterial blood gases. All normal, house surgeon said.

On the eleventh day shoulder pain intensified and I was tired after any exertion. My doctor returned from holiday and asked to see the blood gas results. She phoned me to come in and said the blood oxygen was nowhere near normal that I clearly had a PE. Clexane injections resumed. Now, June 1, I'm very fatigued and have severe pain in my right shoulder, referred pain from the lung, I think.

5/14/03 Chris Salfi: I'm a long distance runner, 39, and was about to gear up training for the Philly Marathon when, after a flight to West Palm Beach, I was diagnosed with DVT and PE.

I had gone out for a run and couldn't go but 1/8 of mile. I thought maybe I had been pushing myself too much and decided to take a few days off from running. Two days later I get a pain in my knee which then radiated down into the calf. After getting progressively worse over the next couple of days my wife, seeing me limping and swollen, suggested I check it out at the ER.

Thirty days later my leg is better but still painful and swollen. I am definitely worried about long term damage since it went untreated for so long. I'll remain optimistic that I'll be able to run again but I doubt it will be at the same level.

I had never heard of DVT and when I tell friends and family members what happened, they are shocked to hear how dangerous air travel can be.

5/11/03 Mary Bates: Last year, about a month after delivering my second child, I had a massive blood clot. I was diagnosed with Prothrombin Factor II, which makes me more likely to get clots. I am 33 and still in pain daily with Post Phlebitic Syndrome.

Before this I worked in International Education and travel was a passion of mine. Now my hematologist says not to take long flights, which makes me sad. But this summer, I have to fly from my home in New York to San Francisco for a wedding. I am nervous, and want NO repeat of the "Honey, where can I find your Organ Donor Card" from an ICU nurse. Any advice would be much appreciated.

(Mary may get a Lovenox prescription, wear compression hose, flex frequently, drink an isotonic beverage and take an aspirin.)

5/1/03 Lesley Pillans, MD: I work for Shell in The Hague. We are writing a protocol to help identify employees who are at greatest risk of developing DVT related to business travel. I very much like the information leaflet and we would like to give them to our business travelers to help reduce their risks and recognize symptoms. I would be grateful if you can give permission to give these wallet cards to our employees.

(Airhealth.org encourages distribution of the leaflets provided our name remains on the reproductions so people will know where to go if they need more information.)

4/30/03 Grieving friend: We just got back from the Dominican Republic when she started having difficulty breathing. She was put on antibiotics for her lungs before having a proper check-up and she felt the doctor wasn't treating her condition seriously. She had to ask for xrays. She told the doctor about returning from a trip and we kept on her about following up and she did but to no avail.

She died on the morning of her follow up appointment 3 wks after we were back. They found significant swelling around her left knee and her mother was asking me if she hurt herself on our trip. The coroner says the clot killed her.

My friend was a very healthy 34. She walked, skied and did aerobic workouts when time allowed. She wasn't overweight and ate very healthy foods. I felt guilty for taking this trip with her which took her life but her husband says she had the best time and was the one that convinced me to go.

4/18 Kim, 30:

The first symptoms appeared about 3 days after skiing--soreness in my ankle and calf which escalated to a swollen, warm, and hardened calf that had me limping. I thought I had pulled something skiing and that it would heal on its own. Finally, after 9 days, my boyfriend convinced me to go to the doctor. He thought it was some inflamed tissue around my ankle and was about to send me home with an anti-inflammatory when I casually mentioned that I was getting on a plane to Arizona the next day. At that point he recommended an ultrasound, noting that the chances of someone my age (30) having a blood clot were "miniscule," but that I should just check it out. The DVT showed up and, next thing I knew, I was in the hospital for 4 days, receiving Heparin by injection and Coumadin orally.

I have marked fatigue and intermittent dizziness - from wararin? My doctor insists it has nothing to do with the medication. I'm not at all happy about having to spend mylife on warfarin, especially if I want to have a child someday. (Risk of DVT rises during pregnancy, but warfarin cannot be continued during pregnancy because of risks to the child such as "gasping child syndrome.")

3/28/03 Mark Smith: Do you have any information about post thrombotic syndrome, PTS? After recovering from DVT following an Osaka-Seattle flight in February, 2001, I developed PTS. It affects my life in many ways. I have daily pain and swelling of my left leg. I was an avid hiker, but find it increasingly difficult to enjoy due to the pain. I still fly, but I now experience deep anxiety every time that this might be "it", my last flight. With two small children and a wife, it is no small worry.

PTS is developed by about 25% of people who experience DVT and live. The most common symptoms are pain and swelling. In some cases, the sufferer can develop ulcers on the skin and can be debilitating. The little I have been able to glean from the web indicates that compression hose, if worn immediately after diagnosis and continuously for about 6 months, is quite effective in preventing PTS.

(We are working on a new PTS page. Wearing compression stockings is probably a good idea, but we haven't found any controlled studies.)

3/8/03 Carolyn Oliver: I contacted you after I suffered a stroke in 2000 after a Chicago to London flight, one of the first stroke victims attributed to air travel thrombosis you'd encountered.

I considered myself at very low risk of recurrence as I have no obvious risk factors. But I just suffered a further DVT this week! I had been skiing in Europe with short coach trips and short flights, lots of walking about and fluids etc., but we are assuming this clot was caused (in part) from a blow to my lower leg by a particularly vicious chair lift. And as my circulation is presumed sluggish now in my stroke affected side a clot formed in my lower leg (even though movement etc. are unimpaired). Luckily I had the leaflet with me and immediately recognized the symptoms and insisted I was not suffering from a "sprain" and insisted on a ultrasound scan. Hopefully the Warfarin regime will sort me out.

3/1/03 J C: After a flight from New York to Singapore I had a cramp in my calf and the next day it was slightly swollen. I was convinced that it couldn't be DVT as I exercise three times a week and because I have been flying for over 20 years all over the world without major problems. An ultrasound confirmed that I had DVT. I decided not to fly for at least 10 days and return in stages, stopping in Europe for one day before returning to the US.

The VP of our Division is already suggesting we should supply the compression socks to all company travelers. I am upset that there is not enough information from the airlines and will write emails to our congressional delegation. I have notified my son and daughter, both college students, that for their spring trip to Cancun they will have to wear the compression socks and referred both of them to your web site.

2/27/03 Isabel Sutton, NZ: Twenty years ago I was 43, fit, in very good health. We started our dream trip around the world, first Auckland to Singapore with three-night stopover. Then British Airways to London, 17 hours with two short stops to refuel while remaining in our economy seats. Nine days after arrival, stopped for lunch on the waterfront at Torquay, I had sudden sharp chest pains. My face went numb and the blood vessels in my neck felt as if they would burst. I was very scared that I was having a stroke.

At a hospital 5 minutes up the road they treated me for a heart attack, although the ECG and other tests were negative. We told them that we had just flown from NZ. but nothing was said about blood clots on the airlines in those days.

2/18/03 Steve Brenessel: I'm an airline captain, chairman of the ALPA Communications Committee, and editor of a monthly newsletter distributed to our company's pilots. I have some firsthand knowledge of how serious blood clots can be. In 1995 my wife, a respiratory therapist and manager at a hospital in Honolulu, injured her leg when a parking lot gate hit the open door of her car. Five days later she began having severe chest pains. I took her to the emergency room but no one could figure out what was wrong, embarrassingly so, with her experience in respiration therapy. The doctors looked for pleurisy, heart attack, etc., and not until they were pulling their hair out did I say: "Could it have anything to do with getting her leg injured . . .?" Then a pulmonary angiogram identified a large clot. It had apparently formed deep in her leg and then broken free and traveled to her lung.

I know that pilots are at risk for deep vein thrombosis and I want to write an article for our newsletter with quotes from your website. The subject is critical to pilots. Ours fly 5-6 hour flights in cramped cockpits and have very little room to get up and walk around. Our pilots need to understand the exercises they can do in their seats as well as the vital need to stand up periodically and stretch.

2/17/03 John Meacham: Like other runners who have had DVT, I thought I pulled my calf muscle after a long drive to the St. George Marathon in Utah from Orange County California. A mile into the race I had to walk, my left calf was so sore, finishing just under the six-hour cutoff. The next day my leg was swollen and turning blue and I still thought I had a pulled or a torn calf. Eight months later I was training for a trail marathon and my left calf started to swell again and I could not catch my breath.

My doctor gave me an EKG and then, during an ultrasound scan, the technician just stopped and said: "Don't move. I need to call your doctor." Then they started the blood-thinners. I know 3 other people with DVT and they are all distance runners. None died but it has changed their lives; one was told he can never run again. My doctor told me he has no idea why I got DVT. I think I have lost some lung capacity but at least I am alive and running again.

2/17/03 Cindy Eckert: I am 44 , and a national level triathlete. I was diagnosed with a DVT last week after walking around, working (personal trainer) and training between the pain (and with a good deal of ibuprofen) for almost two weeks. I had no outward symptoms of swelling or color change and was misdiagnosed by the doctor. I had however flown (3 hr from DC to Miami plus 1.5h to Cancun) 3 mos prior, and had a episode of similar but less intense calf pain about six weeks after the flight. The pain lasted less than a day so I did not think much of it at the time. Last week, after going for a test run on a pain free day and having my lower leg and foot go numb, I went to the ER and was diagnosed with DVT.

I am working on an advisory to send around to the triathlon clubs in the area and to "PTonthenet", a worldwide personal training info service. I plan to send it with information from the Athletics page at Airhealth.org.

2/17/03 Val: I compete regularly in 5 hour trailquests (orienteering on mountain bikes - I'm 45 and have given up running) covering 40-60km, mainly off road, with 500 - 2000m of climbing. Five days after a flight from Hong Kong to London I awoke with a small stabbing pain in the back when drawing a deep breath. It subsided but that afternoon during a bicycle ride around Loch Ard forest, I felt that someone had stolen part of my lung capacity. The pain returned, then subsided again with anti-inflamatories, then returned with a vengeance the next afternoon and I went to see the doctor. He didn't think it could be economy class syndrome; I wasn't ill enough. He prescribed stronger pain killers and told me to "take things easy." Two days later the pain was worse. An emergency doctor found me fit and well but later, at 11 pm the Glasgow hospital did tests including a VQ scan indicating a high probability of pulmonary embolism. Treatment with blood thinners led to improvement.

I'm pretty much back to full fitness .... certainly stamina-wise ... but I'm not sure that max level is (or will be) back to what it was.

2/3/03 PhD, 31, Stroke:In 1990 I developed this type of problem you describe while mountain climbing. My doctor said I'd had a stroke. Can you imagine, at 31, in my health? I had just won an award for my PhD work.

As you say, it took a long long time to get diagnosed. It was an incredibly long recovery, but I recovered way past what the doctors ever said I would. And my life changed. I could no longer fly, or tolerate altitude at all. If there is anything I can do, please let me know.

2/1/03 Steve Dowdell: In late August I flew from San Francisco to Toronto and back, about 5 hour flights. Around September 1st my right leg started swelling and I thought I had tweaked it playing basketball. Three weeks later I awoke with a pain behind my knee and around noon I was having difficulty breathing and drove myself to the emergency room where they gave me a cat scan and kept me for six days with a PE.

I have flown for years never knowing there was ANY kind of risk. I would sleep whenever I could. A stewardess friend told me that the airlines know of the risks but don't want people up in the aisles. I'm DISGUSTED with fact that it is a KNOWN risk and if I had been informed this might have been avoided. I try NOT to fly now and it affects my business negatively.

I was 44 and in good shape, regularly running 5 miles and playing basketball. Now I have some pain in my leg and wear PE hose on right leg daily. I think the clot is still in the artery to my lungs and my capacity has been impaired.

1/29/03 Linda McLaughlin: My husband, son and I flew to Orlando, FL from Spokane, WA. The next evening I started to drop things and couldn't write. About four weeks later I awoke with my face and right arm paralyzed and my speech slurred.

I saw a neurologist and had a brain biopsy but it was inconclusive. I had little use of my right arm for 3-4 months but it is better now. I am still a little weaker on the right arm side. I was 30 when it happened

1/18/03 Elizabeth Porter: I flew in September 2002 from Chicago to Las Vegas on Southwest, crammed into the window seat with two sleeping people between me and the aisle. About a week later, I began noticing shortness of breath and inability to work out at my usual level. (I'm 26, a competitive runner.) My doctor first diagnosed adult-onset asthma . Then the pain in my lower right side got worse and worse.

Finally, while sitting in my cube at work, I was at a point where I could barely breathe and the pain in my back and in my lungs was so sharp that it made me cry.

I went to the ER and no one even considered that it could be a blood clot because I am young, healthy, etc. It wasn't until 3 a.m. that they did a CAT scan of my chest (after many other tests) and found the clots in my lungs.

I'm recovered now, but sometimes still feel like I only have 85% of my energy back. I get tired very easily, and am sleeping a lot more.

1/17/03 Eamonn Toland: I had my pulmonary emboli just before Christmas 1999, on a flight back from Hong Kong to London. I was 29 years old, asleep in business class. I wasn't a routine fitness freak, but I was naturally quite fit - I could run a mile or whatever without noticing major strain. (FYI my doctor had another young patient, under 30, who got a DVT on a short-haul flight from London to Hamburg).

I did try to raise awareness before the death of Emma Cristofferson, writing an article for the London Daily Telegraph in March 2000. I then wrote an article for the London Times after a House of Lords inquiry into DVT. If there is anything else I can do to raise awareness let me know.

1/16/03 Ed Stetser: A few days after a trip to Las Vegas from Philadelphia, a strange sensation in my leg led me to take off my sock to have a look. During the next hour it blew up like a balloon. At the hospital an ultrasound scan identified a blood clot. I am at risk for internal bleeding and the doctor gave me a tough choice: take blood thinners and risk death from bleeding or risk death from thromboembolism. I chose the blood thinners and spent thirteen days in the hospital. Since then I've had two close brushes with death from internal bleeding.

Now I am elevating the leg, taking strong painkillers, able to get up only to go the the bathroom. My brother, a Continental pilot and a DVT victim himself, had warned me about this, but my flights were not so long and I had other things to think about. The doctor has advised me the DVT will never resolve 100%.

1/15/03 Jacqueline: My father in law, an absolutely amazing pediatrician and board certified geneticist, died as a result of this 'syndrome' within hours after a flight from Florida to New York. He was 61, in excellent condition, exercised regularly. He had some leg swelling before the trip, contacted his physician. and was told it would be fine. My husband and mother in law were in absolute disbelief when I mentioned this site. What can we do to help this from happening to others?

(Note: Both physicians were unaware of the risk. Perhaps they had heard of air travel thrombosis and thought this short flight would pose no danger.)

1/14/03 Pat: On our second day in Hawaii, hiking up Akaka Falls, I felt a pulling sensation in my left calf. I thought it was a Charlie-horse. The leg swelled up and for the remaining 5 days I couldn't walk well or at all. Upon return, three different doctors kept treating me for a sports injury. Finally, several weeks later, the leg got very swollen at work one day and I called the doctor's office again. This time, I got a different doctor who asked me to come into his office at the hospital immediately. He quickly ordered tests and then told me I had a blood clot that was traveling up my leg. I was hospitalized for 10 days.

I was 41 then, in reasonably good shape. For fourteen years since I've had to wear compression stockings every day, the deep vein having been irreparably damaged. This is a life-altering affliction that I wouldn't wish on anyone. I have to be very careful in my daily activity. I warn friends and family when they are taking a long trip.

1/13 Stroke : On Sept. 5, 2001 I flew with my husband from Dallas to Amsterdam. Two days later I awoke unable to speak. A hospital in Amsterdam confirmed a stoke had occurred. No one had told us anything about stroke precautions.

After spending the night in the ER we took the next flight to Dallas, and were in the air about 2 hours from NYC when the World Trade Center was hit. The pilot did a steep turn and landed us in St. Johns, Newfoundland, where we were caught for almost a week in Red Cross shelters and a hotel until we could get a flight home.

The symptoms are mostly gone now, except a sometimes stutter or inability to get the word I am thinking to come out of my mouth.

I am on Coumadin, which I will take now forever, I assume, with an increased risk for bleeding to death.

1/13/03 Pat: On a red-eye back from Seattle to Indianapolis I slept across three seats. Walking off the plane, I felt like I had a strained a muscle but I walked it off within a few minutes. Later that day, after a four-hour drive to to Chicago, pushing in the clutch every five seconds in Chicago traffic, my leg really hurt and I had a noticeable limp. It was like that for a week and then, a day later, my other leg hurt in the same manner. I finally went to the doctor about 2 weeks after the flight.

The doctor thought I was too young (27) for DVT but ordered an ultrasound. Then I was admitted to the hospital with mobile clots in both legs. There was never any swelling or outward sign of DVT. Every once in awhile my legs ache; unsettling (to wonder if there is another DVT.)

1/13/03 Lee In 1999, when I was 28, I had a DVT in my left thigh. In April, 2001 I flew from Atlanta to Rome on SWA. I took aspirin, walked around, drank water but still developed phlebitis when I arrived in Italy. Incredible pain pretty much ruined my trip. I still have to wear a compression stocking on that leg due to the pain (chronic venous insufficiency). I am thinking about a trip to Paris in the summer but I am scared my leg will start hurting again.

1/10/03 Tiana: On a flight to Australia I was fortunate to be seated next to a man who told me that, if he should be sleeping, I should just climb over him anytime I wished to get up. So I did. I simply stood, put one foot on the armrest, stepped to the next armrest, and climbed over. Several times when I did this, all three of the other people in my row were sleeping.

I think a discussion about plane etiquette would be useful. I might have hesitated if he had not told me to climb over . Maybe along with more information on DVT, the airlines should tell people it is ok to get up even if it disturbs others. By the way, the first time I climbed out as described, when I climbed back into my seat and plopped down, there was a little round of applause from the row behind me - one woman said "I'm impressed!"

1/8/03 Jeff : I fly a 100,000+ miles a year and have for years. I had pain in my right lower calf, then ankle swelling. My doctor couldn't diagnose it even though I had all the signs of a clot. After a week of hassles I finally got an ultrasound scan which showed a MASSIVE clot from my knee to my groin. After nine days in the hospital I slowly recovered but continued to have ankle swelling.

I had developed postthrombotic syndrome; unfortunately nobody told me to wear my compression stocking ALL THE TIME after my hospital stay. I still have ankle swelling even though I am wearing the stocking. I am TERRIFIED of life long complications.

2/28: A venous specialist put me on me on a very high gradient compression stocking (which I should have been on since leaving the hospital ) and the ankle swelling is improving.

I have decided I need to consult a lawyer. I had poor medical care/advice before and after the DVT and this is a workplace injury. Who knows what is going to happen years from now?




For more messages, see
Messages 2003,
Messages 2002,
Messages 2001