Nicole Fullbrook, 28, never thought taking the Contraceptive Pill would almost take her life. But after a pain in her arm wouldn't go away she decided to visit her doctor, it was a decision that would ultimately save her life, she shares her story with POPSUGAR Australia.
Three years ago at age 25, I considered myself healthy, fit and sporty, there really was no stopping me . . . that was until I almost died from taking the Pill. I was prescribed a low estrogen Pill by my doctor without fully knowing the side effects, I just thought because it was prescribed by a doctor it was OK to take. I started taking a low estrogen pill and after a short time I stopped taking it to give my body a rest, then went back on it again at the end of 2011.
One Monday afternoon back in 2012 I could feel what I thought was just a knot or cramp similar to a pulled muscle in my left arm, which I just tried to massage out and shake off. But by Wednesday morning my whole left arm had swollen all the way down to my hand and was popping out of my work shirt.
I knew straight away this wasn't normal so I went straight to my local GP — lucky I did! I was rushed straight to emergency to have a bunch of tests, most-importantly an ultrasound, which uncovered a 4cm blood clot in an artery in my neck. I quickly found out the reason my arm and hand had become so swollen was because the blood was being pumped down but couldn't pump back up because of the location of the clot. Being in my neck, specialists were concerned the clot would break away and move to my brain or heart, which would be deadly. I was very lucky I acted so quickly.
The tests showed it wasn't genetic so I was immediately taken off the Pill and was prescribed blood thinners for the next couple of years in the hope the clot would dissolve. Taking blood thinners came with its own challenges, I bruised easily and a tiny scratch would make me pour blood — luckily nothing major happened in this time otherwise I would have bled to death. Being so active the hardest part was keeping still and not doing anything physical for the first two months after they found the clot — this was to prevent it moving, which would be fatal. It was also difficult dealing with the shock of it all, I was still in disbelief that this could happen to me. I was so fit and healthy.
Twelve months after the discovery, the clot had dissolved with the potential to return — something I still worry about to this day. To prevent this I was asked not to smoke (which is fine because I never have) and avoid taking the Pill.
Today, as a result of the clot I can't drink as much alcohol as I used to, I have to take blood thinners for three days after flights and avoid hard knocks because I have an increased risk of clotting. When I eventually have babies I will need a blood thinner needle everyday of the pregnancy and I'm also at risk of stroke while giving birth. It's something I'm always worried about returning so I have to really read my body and live each day to the fullest.
I'm not sharing my story to scare anyone, and I'm not suggesting ladies stop taking the Pill, I just want to make people be more accountable when it comes to taking medication. It's important to always know what it is you're putting in your body and to be across the side effects. Unfortunately, I had to find out the hard way but I was very lucky I acted quickly.
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