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‘My leg looked dead’: rider’s warning after blood clots left her fighting for life

A rider who spent three weeks in hospital with severe blood clots has warned others to be aware of the life-threatening condition.

Becky Read suffered deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism some six weeks ago and was lucky she did not lose her leg — or her life.

Becky told H&H she first noticed issues a fortnight before she was admitted to hospital; she had been training for a half-marathon but found herself very short of breath on short runs. She was also experiencing muscle pains.

“A couple of days later, I woke up in the night, in the worst pain I’d ever experienced,” she said. “It was as if someone was stabbing me, on the whole right side of my torso; I was screaming in pain.”

Becky called 111 and was told Covid-19 can cause muscle pains so she had a test, which was negative. She and her partner were told to self-isolate in case the test was inaccurate, but she experienced more severe muscle pains, nausea, confusion and light-headedness over the next few days.

Doctors could find nothing wrong, still thinking Covid could be to blame, but then Becky woke up in the middle of the night again.

“I was in so much pain, I was moaning all the way to the toilet,” she said. “My other half heard and turned on the light — I looked down, and my leg looked as if it was dead.”

Becky’s right leg was mottled red and purple, numb and heavy, and she was struggling to breathe. She was taken to hospital, where tests found she had severe clots in her lungs and leg.

“My other half asked the doctor how I was and he said ‘she’s fighting’,” Becky said. “The team at the hospital were phenomenal.”

Thanks to IV treatment with blood-thinning drugs, and physio, Becky was well enough to go home after three weeks. Full recovery will take time but she wants to raise awareness of the issue. Emerging data, and recent clinical experiences, have shown a high prevalence of such blood clots in patients with Covid-19.

“I never thought that at 27, I’d be fighting for my life with blood clots,” Becky said. “The doctor said being young and fit is probably what saved me, but clots are a silent killer — and the doctor said he’s never seen as many people with them as he had recently.”

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Becky had been riding a horse belonging to a friend, and had hoped to buy a youngster in future but has had a rethink since her illness.

“I’ll be more susceptible to internal bleeding as I’ll be on the blood thinners for life so if I fall, I’ll have to go to A&E straight away,” she said.

“I love jumping but I also secretly really like dressage, although I don’t tell people, so maybe that’s what I’ll focus on instead.

“My lung capacity may never be the same, and it could take two years for them to get back to normal; it’s quite scary.

“I wish I’d gone to hospital when I had the first muscle pain, like my other half suggested, but if I hadn’t gone when I did, I don’t think I’d be here now.”

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