I was on the pill the entire time I was in college. During that time, I was very stressed with different things: school, my boyfriend, being overweight and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I was 21, and I had one quarter left until graduation. At this time, I was taking Ortho-Novum 1-35. I had my stroke while I was on spring break. I was at home visiting my family and friends. It was March 27, 2005.
My boyfriend and I had a fight the night before so I was grumpy that morning. I hadn’t slept well. My mom thought maybe I was getting sick because I was acting very tired. Around 10 am I went upstairs to shower. I got very dizzy in the shower and so decided to get out and lie down but instead I fell out of the shower.
My parents heard me fall and rushed upstairs. I remember my parents knocking on the door and my mom covering me with her robe. And my mom telling my dad to call 911. All I could say was “I don’t know, I don’t know “ over and over again when someone would talk to me. The paramedic saw my birth control pills on the counter and said he thought I was having a stroke. I don’t remember much after that, except going down the stairs on the stretcher and feeling like I couldn’t breathe as they intubated me in the ambulance. Then nothing.
I went to Harborview Hospital in Seattle and they were amazing. They saved my life. I had a very large stroke and at first the neurologists weren’t even sure I would survive. I was in intensive care for a little over two weeks and then in serious care for another week. I can remember waking up and thinking that I was having a horrible nightmare and freaking out when I realized it wasn’t a dream. My brain was getting swollen and they inserted a probe to keep track of the pressure. My sisters watched all this and were so scared. I had such kind nurses – one of them had a sister my age and washed my hair for me. I wish I could remember her name.
We never found out where the clot originated although the doctors did every test imaginable. All of the neurologists agreed that I should have never been on the pill and I should never take hormones again. All of my blood work was normal. My only risk factor was that I was overweight, and that was partly because of the pill itself. I never smoked or did drugs. So it seemed okay to take the birth control pill but it wasn’t. No one ever checked my blood pressure, weight or health after giving me the pill. I think women on the pill need to be monitored. No one really warns you about the problems with it. They just assume it will be all right.
When I was going to school, I was a history major. I was thinking about trying to get a job in one of the large archives. Or maybe I would try to be an author because I was a good writer. I thought I had found my niche. Now I have aphasia and it is so difficult to read and write. My mother is helping me to type this. When I read, I need to have the audio along with the book. Reading makes my brain so tired.
I thought I would have children, but now I am single and live with my parents. I’m pretty good with one hand but a baby would be difficult. I’m alive and walking around and many women aren’t. It’s not fair. Women need to be more aware of the danger. There really is no warning that this might happen to you. Doctors need to discuss what the risks are when prescribing the pill and follow up with appointments, not just hand you a prescription.
So, please be cautious because this could happen to you.
Real Risk Study: Birth Control and Blood Clots
Lucine Health Sciences and Hormones Matter are conducting research to investigate the relationship between hormonal birth control and blood clots. If you or a loved one have suffered from a blood clot while using hormonal birth control, please consider participating. We are also looking for participants who have been using hormonal birth control for at least one year and have NOT had a blood clot, as well as women who have NEVER used hormonal birth control. For more information or to participate, click here.