"I used to wear the Ortho Evra patch on my back but my long hair kept brushing against it and it often fell off. In hindsight, thank God this happened because I went back to oral contraceptives about a year ago," said Cash (not her real name pending a lawsuit). But she still wound up with a blood clot.
"In September 2006 I started to get a lot of pain in my calf - sometimes it radiated up my leg but it was mainly localized. The day the pain started, I had gone with my family to the horse race track - it was Memorial Day weekend I sat for a long time in position so I thought that was the cause and it was just a charley horse. But it didn't go away.
On Monday the pain had worsened and it felt like there was a marble was in my leg. By Tuesday it was nauseatingly painful. I'm a social worker and work in health care; on Tuesday we have a nurse in our office so I showed her my leg. 'Oh dear, I hope it isn't a deep vein thrombosis,' she said. I panicked because I know what that meant.
I made an appointment with my primary physician because I heard this little voice in the back of my head saying 'You're in your 30s, you've been on birth control for a long time and this could be a blood clot.' My doctor first sent me to a vascular lab (they could see me sooner than going to the hospital) and I had an ultrasound. It confirmed that I did indeed have a blood clot. I called my doctor and he told me to get to the hospital - immediately.
I spent a day in ER and was put on blood thinners. Not much happened but after another ultrasound, it found that the clot progressed into the back of my knee. I was sent home with a lot of drugs and instructions to rest. To this day, I still have the blood clot or scar tissue because I can feel a knot in my leg. I often get phlebitis (an inflammation of a vein) and there is no history of blood clots of phlebitis in my family. These flare-ups freak me out because it feels like the clot is back. I am very concerned when it happens and I have to tread lightly, I have to be careful. A blood clot isn't as risky in my calf as it might be in my thigh or closer to my heart and the risk of it moving now has decreased.
Even so, I am annoyed at the drug makers and I know that Ortho Evra caused this blood clot. The makers of Ortho Evra knew that there was a greater risk associated with the patch than other contraceptives. I am outraged, especially that they knew birth control by a transdermal method was riskier than the pill.