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Tom Bolser's DVT Story

Tom Bolser
August, 2006

Editor's Note: (from Marie B. Walker) Julie and Tom Bolser were touched by ClotCare's efforts to promote awareness of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) and wanted to share their story with others via ClotCare in hopes that it might help someone else faced with a possible DVT or PE.

I was an active 52 year old male at the time of the first incident.

My wife (Julie) was a school teacher, so during her spring break we liked to travel. We had traveled to Martinique from Seattle. It was a long flight going down because we were using our air miles. While playing in the ocean the day before our return, I felt something strike the back of my leg. When I got out I could hardly walk on it. Julie helped me to a lounge chair and got ice and we elevated and iced the leg.

The next day was our return flight and again, we had to change planes 3 times because of our "free" tickets. Finally in Chicago we got a wheel chair to get to the next connection.

When we returned home I went to see the doctor, and was told I had a pulled muscle... stay off it and take it easy and it will get better.

About 10 days later, I was at home for the day, working around our property. I was quite tired and felt short of breath. My wife had a PTSA meeting that night at school and wasn't coming home until late, so I decided to go to bed early. However, I couldn't get comfortable and would feel some relief when I sat up.

When my wife arrived home about 9:30 pm I was just coming out of the bedroom. She asked why I was in bed so early and I explained that I was short of breath, couldn't get comfortable and had some pain down my arm... She said we are going to the hospital. We didn't call 911 because we live 35 min from town and its a remote volunteer fire dept.

She called for our son and he came and we were off to the hospital. On the way there I told my wife and son that I was feeling quite a bit better and maybe we could turn around.... They both refused!

When we got to the hospital they immediately checked me out for a heart attack... the ekg was fine. They were puzzled. They finished taking the info and said I could go home and that if the symptoms got worse to come back. My wife was reluctant to do this since we live so far away. However, we got up to leave and the observant triage nurse asked why I was limping. When I told him that I had been in the Carribean 10 days before and had hurt my leg, he acted immediately!!

He said they needed to run some different tests, and since it was now 11:30pm, they would have to call in an off duty specialist to run these tests. After several hours they had completed the tests and found that I had TWIN PE's. They said I had one in each lung, and that was why I had trouble breathing.

I was admitted to the hospital for a week and was kept on IV Heprin.

They never gave us statistics about how serious this was and how lucky I was to have survived... however, the mother of one of my wife's students worked in the unit I was in and had tears in her eyes when she told Julie how lucky she was that I had made it.

When I was let out of the hospital, I was kept on warfarin for 6 months. I was told that if I ever had another episode that I would be on it for life.

At the end of 6 months, I discontinued warfarin and life went on.

Then 2 years later I had back surgery but did not have any clots. Then the next year I needed foot surgery. My wife wanted to go to the preop appointment, but I assured her I could handle it. Well, I forgot to tell this surgeon about my blood clot history. I had the foot surgery on Dec. 5. My wife asked me why they didn't put me on an anticoagulant and I said I guess I didn't need it. Recovery went well and I was doing fine I thought.....

On Feb. 6th, 2 months after my surgery, Julie commented that my right ankle looked slightly swollen. That was on the leg of the surgery. I said that I'd probably been on my feet too much and I'd stay home and elevate it and rest. Julie said that I should call the doctor. I said no. The next day when it didn't look any less swollen (and it was still very slight) she insisted on calling the doctor. I said that's great but I had to go in to work. Julie called the doctor that had handled my previous PE and the doctor asked "How soon can he be here?" We got to the hospital that was set up for tests in 45 minutes. I was stunned to find out that I had several blood clots in my leg, up to my groin. However, this time they hadn't become PE's, thank God.

They put me on outpatient injections this time. They then said I'd have to be on warafin the rest of my life. Since we were resistent because of the constraints we thought it would put on my lifestyle, they did some further bood work to check out hereditary factors. They didn't come up with any. We felt that because both times there was an inciting incident that maybe I wouldn't have to stay on it forever. Our doctor said that was a gamble after having two episodes.

Julie still was unsatisfied so she contacted the University of Washington Medical Center and I went and had more extensive blood tests that found that I do have a genetic predisposition to blood clots.

I am now on warafin for the rest of my life, and they have convinced me that it is a necessity. They also made me aware of how fortunate I am to have survived not one, but two incidents.

I know that I've had a second and third chance at life. I hope my story can help someone avoid the mistake I made. I have my first grandchild that is a little girl; she is the light of my life and I am so glad I can be part of hers.

Featured ClotCare DVT & PE Postings

Understanding Deep Vein Thrombosis
This posting explains deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). The posting has information on who is likely to get a DVT, the signs and symptoms of a DVT or PE, how a DVT is diagnosed, how a DVT or PE is treated, and how a DVT or PE can be prevented. You can also see several pictures of what a DVT actually looks like.

Cancer and Deep Vein Thrombosis
This posting provides information for patients with cancer. Deep vein thrombosis is a potential complication for cancer patients.

FAQs About Warfarin (brand name Coumadin)
Warfarin (brand name Coumadin) is an anticoagulant medication used to treat patients who have survived a DVT or PE. This posting answers some of the most common questions asked by patients on warfarin (brand name Coumadin).

Understanding the PT-INR Test
This posting explains the PT-INR test, which is the test used to measure how well warfarin is working.

Featured ClotCare FAQs

What is the d-Dimer Test?
The d-Dimer test is a relatively simple blood test used to test for active clotting. If the d-Dimer blood test is negative (or normal), that virtually rules out active blood clot formation... Learn more at:

Will the blood clot in my leg go away now that I am on medication for it?
Once you have started taking anticoagulant medications after having a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the leg), the blood clot may dissolve on its own, or it may remain in your leg indefinitely... Learn more at:

I am taking warfarin (brand name Coumadin) for a blood clot in my leg (DVT). Will the pain in my leg ever go away?
This FAQ explains post-thrombotic syndrome, which is sometimes referred to as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) or as post-phlebitic syndrome. Pain in the leg from post-thrombotic syndrome may remain even after a blood clot has fully dissolved... Learn more at:

What are graduated compression stockings, where do I get them, and how do I put them on?
Graduated compression stockings are special stockings that help promote circulation in your legs... Learn more at:

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024