Linda Dunn’s Not-So-Fun Rollercoaster Ride

Over about a four-year period, 68 year-old Linda Dunn of Clare endured a rollercoaster ride that had her in and out of hospitals as healthcare professionals tried to determine the cause of chronic gastrointestinal bleeding and formation of blood clots in her legs. Linda’s medical odyssey would lead her to Dr. Omar P. Haqqani, MD, Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Vascular Health Clinics in Midland.

“About four years ago I started having pain in my legs so I went to the ER. I was diagnosed with a significant blood clot in my left leg and spent eight days in the hospital,” says Linda.

While in hospital, Linda inquired about seeing a vascular specialist. To her dismay, the attending physician advised that this wasn’t necessary as she was recovering well and would soon be released.

A friend of Linda’s, however, had recently read an article featuring a new vascular surgeon on staff at MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland, Dr. Omar P. Haqqani, MD. Linda reached out to Dr. Haqqani and scheduled an appointment to see him in three weeks.

Because of the previous clotting in her leg, Linda had been placed on Coumadin, an anticoagulant that helps prevent blood clots from forming. Dr. Haqqani recommended continuation of the Coumadin and careful monitoring for further blood clots.

“This is when the rollercoaster ride really began,” says Linda.

Linda developed GI bleeding that could not be contributed to any direct cause. Because a cause could not be determined, Dr. Haqqani recommended that Linda have an IVC filter inserted to prevent any further clots that may form from breaking off and traveling to her lungs, causing potentially life-threatening complications.

As it turns out, to err on the side of caution, Linda had two IVC filters inserted – one in both her left and right leg.

With the filters inserted, Linda had measures in place to protect her from complications from further blood clots, but still no answers concerning what was causing her bleeding and blood clot issues.

Suspecting the bleeding may be due to the anticoagulant Linda was taking, Dr. Haqqani switched Linda from Coumadin to Xarelto. This seemed to address the bleeding that Linda was experiencing.

“I was doing pretty good until last May, but then I got the big clot in my right leg,” says Linda.

Linda had developed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a blood clot in the deep vein system that typically occur in the pelvis, thigh, or calf. The DVT was causing constant pain in Linda’s leg that essentially limited her to sitting in her chair with her legs raised.

“I couldn’t do anything when I had the clot,” says Linda. “I couldn’t do my quilting or take walks. I couldn’t really even enjoy reading because the pain was always on my mind.”

Linda visited Dr. Haqqani at his new facilities, Vascular Health Clinics in Midland, where Dr. Haqqani advised that Linda undergo surgery to remove the DVT.

“The doctor spent a lot of time explaining what he was going to do and answered any questions that and my husband Tom and I had in terms we could understand,” says Linda.

“I have to say that the doctor has a real presence when he’s talking to you that gives you confidence in his ability and also gives you a sense that he truly cares about his patients,” says Tom Dunn.

In late May, Linda reported to MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland where Dr. Haqqani performed a thrombectomy to surgically remove the clot from the vein in Linda’s left leg. After several days recovering in hospital, Linda was released just in time to attend Tom’s birthday party that day at their son’s house.

“The doctor told me that I had to walk 20-30 minutes every other hour, so that’s what I did. That first day out I walked around my son’s pond several times during the party,” says Linda.

Linda was also advised to continue to wear compression stockings to prevent further clots, which she does regularly.

“It’s been a crazy ride, but I feel great now,” says Linda, a little under six months after the surgery to remove the DVT.

Linda was immobilized by her DVT, but now enjoys living her life with no restrictions. She’s back to quilting and reading, and takes regular walks with Tom.

“Dr. Haqqani, is my hero. I cannot say enough good things about him,” says Linda.

“I just love him. I really do. He saved my life.”

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