A diagnosis, and then a delivery

August 5, 2015

SHELLEY-LONG-WEB

Thirty-five weeks pregnant with twins, Shelley Long had grown accustomed to the endless aches and pains of a multiple pregnancy. But the throbbing in her right calf worried her.

She reported the leg pain to medical staff twice during visits to a hospital to have her blood pressure monitored, but was told the discomfort was probably nothing. Take a hot bath, someone suggested.

“I know my body pretty well, and I knew something was wrong,” Long said. “But it felt like no one was really taking it seriously.”

So after she was discharged, she kept an appointment for physical therapy with Marie Woerner, PT, Assistant Professor at UNT Health Science Center. At the clinic, Long explained her leg pain to Woerner, who had been helping Long cope with her pregnancy discomfort.

Woerner examined Long’s right calf and didn’t like what she saw.

“It was swollen, tender and warm to the touch,” Woerner said. “She showed symptoms that immediately made me concerned that she had a blood clot.”

The clot, also known as deep vein thrombosis, was a potentially life-threatening condition. Once formed, they can break away into the blood stream and damage other parts of the body. If a clot reaches the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.

Long was scared — not for herself, but for her babies. Woerner marched down the hall and grabbed her colleague, Dr. Chris Stevens, a UNTHSC obstetrician and gynecologist. He looked at Long’s leg and called the hospital to order an immediate sonogram.

Back at the hospital, the sonogram revealed that Long had multiple clots in both legs. Dr. Stevens prescribed a blood-thinning medication, which hospital staff swiftly administered to dissolve the clots.

If that wasn’t enough for one day, Long then went into labor. Medical staff managed to delay delivery for three days, but no longer. Her son, Bennett, 5 pounds 12 ounces, arrived at 11:26 a.m. Three minutes later, his sister Harper, 5 pounds 5 ounces, joined him.

After life with two infants settled down, Long wrote a letter to Woerner, thanking her and Dr. Stevens.

“I’m so thankful they took me seriously and figured out exactly what was wrong so quickly,” Long said. “My kids are both happy and healthy, and I feel like I have them to thank for that.”

Dr. Nolan Kline, School of Public Health
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