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Saturday, February 06, 2016

February Athlete of the Month

2016 continues to roll on in great form.

Personally we have a significant change with the addition of our 3rd child... Certainly we are VERY FORTUNATE and doing are best to figure out our new family dynamics now that the parents are our numbered.

It is not too difficult when you have a face like this to look at...

Soon enough I hope to be able to get this little on in CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots... probably next up we will have "performance polka-dot oncies..."

So we have reached February 2016 already... don't ask me how we got here so fast.  It seems like yesterday when I was just finishing up the January post of these series.

Since the last January post a lot of things are coming together for our world of spreading the word about blood clots and to celebrate blood clot survivors.  Coming up very soon we have a couple of events in which blood clot survivors are getting the word out... Please take some time to check this out... >>> Blood Clot Survivor attempting a Guinness World Record... Simply Amazing CHECK IT OUT! >>> Blood Clot Survivor working the NBCA - booth to spread awareness and then also participating in the event to show all that Blood Clot Survivors CAN DO ANYTHING!

Speaking of Blood Clot Survivors the world of social media continues to bring us all together and allows me to meet more individuals that are overcoming the challenges from blood clots and simply going on to be an inspiration not only to me but to many people out there who are looking to battle the challenges of their own clotting episodes...

This month I would like to share with you the story that was shared with me from a clot survivor whose name is TEAGAN ANDREWS.  I am Thankful that Teagan was willing to share her story with us so that we can learn more about her challenges and how she was able to overcome them.

Please read on and be inspired...

" 1)  What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
Running is definitely my sport of choice! When I was recovering from my PE and couldn't run, I took up swimming and cycling, but given the choice I will always choose running. It’s fun, it's social, I get to see beautiful places, I guess the only down side is the laundry : )

2)  How did you get started in that sport? 
I started running when I was 19, just to relieve stress in college. I joined the track team my senior year and truly fell in love with running

3)  What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
I ran my first 50k this summer, which was so great. I ran the Forest Park 50k in Portland (where I live). It was fun running on trails I train on all the time, and I met my goal of running sub 5:00 (and I actually came in first for women, which was shocking and super exciting). 

4)  Tell about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
In 2011, shortly after my 26th birthday, I noticed that it hurt to take a full breath. I thought that I pulled a muscle in my ribs or something but it got progressively worse over the next couple of absolutely miserable days. I had no appetite, was in a ton of pain, couldn’t sleep, and generally just felt off. After three days of this I went in to my PCP who ordered  a chest x-ray, where he noticed that I had fluid in my lungs. He sent me to get a CT scan immediately. That CT scan was maybe the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. Trying to breathe while lying down was pretty much torture. After the CT scan, I was waiting there for the results (happy to be upright), when the person who reviewed the results came in with oxygen for me and said that they ordered an ambulance as I had “an impressive number” of  blood clots in both of my lungs and also infarctions. So. . .I got an ambulance trip (first one ever! Very exciting.)

From there, I was in the hospital for a few days, was put on Lovenox and Warfarin, got pneumonia, and was in a lot of pain. It was not a fun time, and I had no idea if I would ever be able to run fast again, though I was determined to do so. The doctors told me that the blood clots would go away eventually, but they didn’t know what would happen with the part of my lung that died.

After I got home, I tried to stay active. I couldn't run at all, but I could walk (very slowly) so that's what I did. I made a chart to keep track of my progress so I wasn't as discouraged and also tried taking up new sports (swimming and cycling) so that I wouldn’t measure my performance against what I could do before.  It was a full month before I could even try jogging again. . .at 11-12 min/mile pace. And I’m on warfarin for life as I had no risk factors for clotting and no one has any idea why it happened.       

5)  When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?   
As I said, it was a full month before I could even try jogging and it was SO SLOW. My doctor said I had to keep my heart rate at 150bpm or below for a few months, which would normally be fine, but because of the blood clots and reduced lung capacity, it meant I was running painfully slow compared to my normal pace. Many tears were shed on these runs. Usually running is the time that I can let free and be myself and decompress, but some of these runs were full of doubt and pain and discouragement. However, I still had hope things would improve. I religiously kept track of my progress, and over time started to see improvement. Three months later I was down to 8-9 min/mile pace. Still not fast enough to run with my friends, but running was feeling better and  started to be fun again. I was back running with my friends (but not doing workouts) 6 months after my PE’s.

Three years after my PE’s I ran a 19:19 5k on the track, which was a PR for me. Since then I have PR’d in the 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon and 50k distances.  

7)  How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Every day you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
I run 5-6 days/week. I’m currently training for a series of 50k’s next summer. I am also a weather-dependent bike commuter.

8)   What is your favorite food? 
I like most foods : ) I especially like ice cream and jalapeno potato chips. Not together.

9)  If you could go someplace to visit and explore, where would you like to go? 
I would love to go to Great Britain someday to explore.

10)  What would like to say to someone who is going through a clotting episode, perhaps very similar to yours?  How can people return to do what they enjoy?
I would tell them that things will get better and to be patient with themselves and to listen to their bodies. I would tell them that (if they’re a somewhat serious runner) this is not the end of their running. People can live through this and end up a stronger runner (and person) on the other side. It’s possible to PR again and it doesn’t have to be a “post-PE PR”, it can be a real, legitimate PR. I would also really encourage them, especially in the first year, to keep really close record of exactly what they do in each workout, so that even if the progress is really miniscule and practically invisible day to day, when they look week over week, month over month, they will see how much they are improving.

I would also encourage them to take up a new sport. It helped me SO MUCH to learn something new so that I could see tangible progress forward toward goals. I did triathlons for the first couple of years after my PE’s instead of running. This new sport enabled me to set PR’s for which I really had no context, and kept me pretty distracted from how long it was taking to get back into running.

And finally, I would say, be open with the important people in your life about what you’re going through. They want to be there for you, just like you want to be there for them when they go through difficult times."

TEAGAN's story is a clear example that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE for Blood Clot Survivors.  So much so that she is even breaking down her own barriers by getting much faster and achieving many personal bests.

There is a great deal of hope for anyone who is a survivor of blood clots and by reading stories like Teagan's they can certainly start their road to recovery.

Never stop doing what you love.  There is hope for everyone!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Thursday, January 07, 2016

January Athlete of the Month


2016 here we come!

Here is hoping that this year the CLOT BUSTER #STOPTHECLOT polka-dots get to go to many more races, tours, training sessions, race expo, etc so that we can continue to CELEBRATE BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS and to SPREAD AWARENESS about blood clots that could save someone's life...

So in order to get the new year started with style please let me introduce you to a Clot Survivor that will inspire us all with his determination and grit to overcome the challenges of his own clotting incident.

Please allow me to introduce to you PAUL WEINBURGH and read his personal as he wrote it to me on an email correspondence we had last year...

Get ready...

"On June 8th , 2010 my life changed forever, fresh off winning the National Championship in the Firefighter Combat Challenge on October 31st, 2009, I was fortunate to be national sponsored by Alfa Aesar and Zoll Medical. I was fit, happy and my kids were happy. I was a full time Captain on the Fire Department and a single parent of a 19 and a 16 year old, life was good and crazy at the same time.

On June 8th, 2010 that all changed forever, while responding to an early morning call I fell about 15 Feet fracturing my Left leg and completely totaling my Left Knee.

I had my First surgery in July to stabilize the leg and all went fine. Then a month later my world began to fall apart, my youngest brother Sean suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 40, he died on August 4, 2010, I was injured and now me and my family were crushed with grief of this sudden loss.

Three weeks later I underwent my 2nd surgery and within a week started experiencing left sided calf pain. I followed up with my physician who sent me for a leg ultra sound which soon enough I would learn they are not a 100% accurate, it was negative.

On September 13, 2010 while doing physical rehab I suddenly became short of breath and diaphoretic, at the time I didn't think much of it but I had an appointment set up with my Orthopedic Surgeon that day so I'd ask him.

When I arrived apparently I didn't look so good so he immediately sent me in for a lung scan where they found many Pulmonary Embolism's in my right Lung with some of them causing permanent damage. I suddenly found myself the center of attraction in the Emergency Department on Oxygen, couple IV's Heparin drips Warfarin? Being a Paramedic for over 20 years I finally got what was happening and then the side effect of this trauma set in, the overwhelming feeling of doom, anxiety and oh shit I know what's happening. Although I respect doctors being honest and up front I wasn't prepared to hear that the PE I had is 80% fatal in most people and he felt because of my lifestyle of being fit and a non smoker was in my favor......I was in a state of shock.
After several weeks of being stabilized on Enoxaparin and Warfarin, I was ready to restart the battle to repair my leg.

Because of the extent of damage to my knee my current surgeon recommended a knee replacement, this to me seemed so final and basically an end of my physical activity to my extreme.

I've heard of an experimental surgery Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation "ACI" which is removing cartilage sending it to a lab and re growing it then three months later having the big surgery where they go in resurface all the bones with Bovine then inject the cartilage cells and pray for growth. The down fall of this surgery was my age "right at the limit" 45, 18 months of physical therapy 3 days a week and the inability to walk which ended up being a total of 18 months 24 months before my limp was resolved. So I said piece of cake lol, still better than a fake knee.      

So the adventure started in March 2011 I had a Permanent IVC filter place in order to prevent clots because I needed to come off the Warfarin during the surgeries. In April I had the cartilage harvested threw a scope into my left leg. I then started back to rehab for 3 months awaiting the time for the implant surgery.... On July 11, 2011 I went in. After the surgery I was a mess non weight bearing for 4 months and unable to walk without assistance for a year. 

In January 2012 I started back at gym slowly, they determined I had no clotting factor issues like factor 5 so three physicians said the following, first said stay on blood thinners, second said come off blood thinners and the third had mixed review. So I took door number 2 and came off the blood thinners and continued to work hard doing Crossfit and any activity I count find.

Life changing event number 2. In June 2012 was working in my back yard and had a sudden onset of severe back pain and weakness in my lower extremities, I thought being in the yard working I injured my back. I drove myself to the local hospital and apparently I didn't look so well and they took me right in. Within 30 minutes I was in a Paramedic ambulance on my way to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston on Heparin and many pain killers. Apparently my IVC filter was completely clogged. When I arrived at Beth Israel they informed me I had an 11 inch clot extending from my filter down into my renal and thoracic vein, which was causing the pain. They told me they have never seen such a large clot in a living person and I needed immediate surgery that included many risk.

The amazing thing was when I laid supine in the bed the filter slightly un blocked allowing blood flow. I don't know why but against medical advice I did not do the surgery and remained in the hospital for some time on blood thinners and pain killers, too this day I don't know why I didn't do the surgery "everyone was telling me to do it" When I left the hospital I could barley walk and I started on this long recovery again. It took a long time determination and yes psychological help which to me was the most difficult hurdle "the mental injury".

A year later I climbed Pikes Peak in CO and spread my brothers ashes again against doctors recommendation, but it's not who I am. I'm not disabled I'm a survivor. I don't pity myself I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue this great life and to spread the word to others like me......

And now I run races both road and Spartan I do FF ironman events. I just love life more than I could ever imagine."
THANK YOU Paul for sharing your story.

You got back "Into action" in January of 2012 so I hope that in a small way we can celebrate with this post the start of the road of your recovery...

Without a question you did overcome a number of challenges more than I could ever imagine.  I am not sure how you were able to push on through.  Definitely an INSPIRING STORY from which all of us can take something.  I take away your determination and "Never Quit" attitude.  That truly is the flag that ALL Survivors have to get past their clotting incidents and return to a normal life.

I am looking forward to hear what other physical challenges you will overcome next! KEEP IT UP because you are an example many of us can follow.  We just need to get you in some CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots so that you can reach even more people!

What a story...

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Saturday, January 02, 2016


Can't really take on 2016 without looking back at 2015...
2016 HERE WE GO!



My 60th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 60th Triathlon Finish !!!
First Time ever My Son got to cross the finish line with me. Without a doubt a Wonderful Experience