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Monday, September 05, 2016

September Athlete of the Month

Inspiration is all around us.

Sometimes you will find it where you least expect it.

I am very lucky to have a fountain of inspiration as I come across stories of survivors through social media... I am very lucky that those I approach are willing to share their story so that all of us can learn something... 

From my part I always appreciate the tenacity to overcome the challenges that blood clots can throw our way... It just does not get old and honestly it is energizing.

For the month of September I have a special personal account that you need to read... EMMA JANE has a story that will resonate with you not only because she is a clot survivor but also because she was able to overcome the challenges and come back to accomplish milestones she did not think she could do...!

Read on...

"As a kid I was always active . My swim teacher encouraged me to strengthen my core with running and sit ups and press ups  to help my swimming . Later I started running a bit further to keep fit and deal with stress. Only in 2013 did I start taking part in organised races. And within 9 months I ran my first marathon. I'm about to run my 35th marathon now. I thoroughly enjoy it all.

I also love a variety of sport activities. Mainly running, also cycling and swimming including working out at the gym.

My longest race was 37 miles . I have completed 2 half iron man triathlons and my fastest marathon is 4h 4 mins which I completed 3 & 1/2 weeks after my PE was diagnosed. I was astonished!  How did I do that??!  
I'm brick training more lately (2 or more disciplines back to back) as I want to take part in a full ironman (2.4 miles swim. 112 miles cycle. 26.2 miles run) totally bonkers but I'm so motivated to do it. 

I noticed a funny cramp in my left lower leg . Down the front of it last year (2015) in mid September. It went on for 3wks then disappeared when I had some osteopathy. Then in mid October I was bitten several times on the left calf by a cat ( I'm a vet nurse part time) it didn't go nasty. I bathed it in salt water and it healed quite well. A week later I felt what seemed like a knotty muscle in the back of my left calf just below the knee . It was quite painful. Massaging it seemed to help and I carried on running. It had almost disappeared when I noticed my left calf was swelling up . It was the 2nd of November. I couldn't get in to see a Doctor at my local office so a nurse at A and E examined me. By then it was so painful I felt very sick with it. The nurse thought it was an infection from the cat bite and referred me to my Doctor for an emergency appt that day. I didn't think it was a cat bite infection. It didn't look or feel like a typical infection . But I kept an open mind. The doctor also didn't think it was infected bite or a DVT as I didn't fit the profile. I am slim, fit, non smoker. So he told me to take pain killers and rest it thinking I had pulled a muscle. But it didn't improve . 3 days later my leg was so painful and swollen ( 6 cm bigger than the other leg!) I was crying in agony and being physically sick. I phoned my doctors office again . I was given an emergency appt but again it wasn't thought to be DVT. After I persisted the doctor agreed to test my d-dimer levels and put me on a short course of xarelto just as a precaution. By now I couldn't walk on my leg at all. Later that day my test results came back . D-dimers are supposed to be no more than 500. Mine were 4800!!! I was given an emergency hospital appt . I had two clots in my left leg extending above the knee. One blocking the vein . The other nearly blocking the vein. Each more than 6inches long!!! I was numb with shock. Why had this happened? More blood tests were booked and a mammogram as cancer can cause clots and both sides of my family have experienced cancer . Lucky for me no cancer was found. And the DVT s were attributed to the cat bite. I continued my running etc. Ran another Marathon 20days after my leg first swelled. I know . I'm mad 😀 . But I had already booked it. Paid for it. It was a lapped course so I could stop at any time if I needed to. I struggled with it but finished in 4h 34. Felt very dizzy at the end but happy. Then 5  weeks later I ran a flat road 50k race . Felt super fit. No leg problems or breathing problems and achieved 5h 32. I was so happy 😊 . Felt on top of the world. I could still run and run well at that. My hobby would continue to develop and I could enjoy it to the hilt.

Near the end of February I finished my tablets and had an appt with a specialist for more blood tests and a consultation . Again the DVT s were attributed to the cat bite. I felt happy with that and continued on with my life, work and hobbies . A fortnight after I had finished my blood thinners. I experienced flu like symptoms and quickly became exhausted but as the symptoms improved within a few days I dismissed it as an infection and carried on with my running. I did another marathon called The Larma Tree marathon. Held in a beautiful rural estate. Lots of my running buddies were there. I took it easy but enjoyed the event nonetheless for being recently sick. Then during my 28th marathon on 3rd April 2016. I experienced funny breathing and tight chest. 'Weird' I thought but I finished and  felt fine after I finished  so again I thought nothing of it (oh dear) but the next day I felt awful. Breathing was hard work. My chest felt tight and heavy. I thought it was another infection and just had to tough it out . The next night at about 3am a searing pain across my left shoulder woke me up. I was in agony.  My breathing was extremely difficult and my chest was tight and I also felt uncomfortable lying down.  Any pressure on my back hurt in my chest. I had had similar symptoms 8 years before and it had been dismissed as muscular (!!!)  I felt unsettled enough though to phone the NHS helpline who immediately called an ambulance out to me. I thought what a lot of fuss! No abnormalities showed up on their equipment. Oxygen fine. Temperature fine. ECG fine. Blood pressure all fine. I was advised to take some pain killer and see my doctor the next day on the 6th April 2016 . I managed to get a last minute appt to see a nurse practitioner. Who instantly panicked and sent me to Bath Ruh A &E. I didn't believe  I had PE . I didn't want any fuss. I refused the emergency clopidogarol injection saying 'don't waste it on me' (hahahaha) I spent 10hours in MIU being tested poked and prodded and scanned. My DDimers were high again. 1100 ! I broke down at that point. I was there all on my own and something awfull was happening to me . I had to go off and have a good walk. It helped and thank goodness for FaceBook!! The support I was getting from my friends was amazing. I will never forget and always be grateful. After a few minutes I pulled myself together thinking . I need to get on with this. I can do this/deal with this. I have been through tough times before and survived. I can do it again. 
      I was then booked in for a VQ lung scan. My body would lie in this huge doughnut shaped machine while I was sandwiched between two massive plates that take the images of the air ways and blood vessels in the lungs. I was pumped full of radioactive gas and iv fluid for contrast then lay there listening to Enyas soothing music in the background. I soon started snoring 😀!! The machine attendant was very good, very caring and never once indicated what my scan results were . Once I was back in the MIU though the expressions on the nurses faces registering outright shock at my results completely gave the game away. I found myself laughing under my breath . When the doctor on duty in the MIU next spoke to me she tried to cover up just how bad my results were with her jolly voice and jargony words . I was not impressed and it was still a big mystery as to why these clots were occurring. Next thing I know I have an appt to be checked out for cancer!! Again!! Nooooo . Lucky for me its less than a week away. My results were clear but I still felt very uneasy and less than reassured. The very next day the specialist was due to call me and she had some great news! I have Factor V Leiden's . Yahooooo ! I hollered down the phone. I didn't have cancer!!! I felt such relief . I knew about Leiden's . Had researched it along with other causes of clotting and I knew I could deal with having it . Yes I'm on xarelto for life and all the gremlins that brings with it but I was in all other ways Healthy. I was very fit so my body dealt well with the symptoms of multiple PE very well . Yep multiple PE, five areas in my lungs were riddled with blood clots. Too many to count. I was stunned!!  And filled with anxiety which I then handled by going for a 3mile run just hours after my diagnosis . I was a bit breathless and slow but it felt great to offload the anxiety. I then tested myself physically over the next two weeks. I was happy with my body's performance and doing breathing exercises helped enormously so on the 1st May 2016 I ran a hilly road marathon . Very Carefully. I set a new personal best record !!!! My previous one set over a year ago was 4h 12. My new one this day was 4h 4m !! I could not believe it. I asked if the clock was accurate lol!! Then when it had sunk in I was ecstatic. My life would always have the shadow of PE and Leiden's and hence xarelto over it but it was good and going to get better 😀 . I have since completed another 5 marathons including 3 ultras (30 + miles)  and a half iron man triathlon . Not without difficulties but I persisted and overcame and threw myself all into it and I'm succeeding. 

I only took time off work for hospital appointments. I kept going otherwise. It was hard but it helped an awful lot with the anxiety. I'm a self employed beautician and love my work. My favou
rite piece of gear has to be my garmin sports watch. Its a 910 forerunner and does my swimming and cycling too. And where would we sporties be without Strava ?! Lol Someday I would love to visit Club la Santa on lanzarote a sports persons paradise . All sorts of sports activities and socialising to do. As well as a cruise as I have many cocktail dresses and not much opportunity to wear them..."
Emma here is hoping that you get to wear those cocktail dresses while still running and eventually doing that elusive IRONMAN,  For sure you will have to do that race in the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots..!!!

Thank You for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, September 02, 2016

Still Enjoying the Sweet Pain of My Accomplishment...

The CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots Flying High...!!!

I still can't believe that I was able to pull off a new Personal Best.

Celebrating CLOT SURVIVORS and SPREADING AWARENESS carried me on.

This race sure was a blast.  You should consider it if you want a fast 70.3 Triathlon!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

August Athlete of the Month

Are we feeling the heat...?!?!

I can't get enough I have to confess...The hotter the better for me.

But although it is hot I need the inspiration that I can harvest from reading the SURVIVAL STORIES of BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS I am fortunate to learn about.

Overcoming the challenges of blood clots is a journey that is unique for every individual.  But it is a journey in which you can re-discover yourself and come back as best as you can.

Certainly the story you can read below can serve as a perfect example of that inspiration and commitment to overcome and never stop.

Please allow me to introduce to you ANGELA STANSKI who is a member of the 2016 Team Stop The Clot that will be running the TCS NYC Marathon in November.

If you can and wish to donate to Angela's Fundraising effort please click HERE to access her page.

Please read on and take it all in!

"It happened so fast that it almost seems like a bad dream.  The picture on the left was taken during the Steamtown Marathon in October 2013.  I was on my way to running a 4 and a half minute PR from the previous year's marathon and feeling terrific.  I was in the best shape of my life.  Fast forward to about two weeks after that, I started getting out of breath doing normal things, like walking up stairs, and my resting heart rate was higher than normal.  I thought that I was just trying to do too much too soon after the marathon and that I was a little overtrained.  I was having a bit of an annoying chest pain with deep breaths, but nothing that set off any alarms in my head.  
I kept running during the week with friends, feeling winded at an what should have been an easy effort, and by the Saturday run with my local run club, I ended up cutting a run short and walked it back two miles after going that far out.  Friends asked if I was ok because it was so unlike me to be walking, and I said yes.  Something was wrong, but I had no idea the seriousness of it.  I went home and rested.

Sunday, things got worse.  I remember having a panic attack; crying on the floor of my bedroom, my heart was racing, I was short of breath and my lips looked a tinge of blue to me.  My husband helped to calm me down and wanted me to go to the ER.  I got control of my breathing and not wanting to believe I wasn't invincible, I convinced myself that I was just hyperventilating and that I would be fine.  In hind sight, I absolutely should have went to the hospital.  But I didn't.
I am so thankful that I woke up on Monday.  That morning I started coughing up blood.  That answered the question right there about something really being wrong.  I headed to the walk in clinic and was seen by a nurse practitioner.  My oxygen level was ok and because of the shortness of breath and breathing pain, she was talking about pneumonia or costochondroitis.  I told her this was very unusual for me and what she was she was saying didn't explain the blood because I wasn't coughing much.  I know she didn't want to jump to worst case scenario, but she decided it was questionable enough to send me for a CT Scan.  I was told to head right over to the hospital.

I did just that.  I remember having a hard time walking from my car to the hospital.  I felt short of breath and dizzy, as if I was going to pass out.  After the CT scan, I was told I needed to talk to the nurse practitioner who was on the phone.  As if she couldn't believe it herself, she told me I had multiple blood clots in both lungs.  I thanked her for sending me for the test, and I shudder to think what would have happened if I went home from her office with one of the alternate diagnoses. 
I was taken from the CT room to the emergency room.  From there, an ambulance came to take me to a bed at another hospital. Things went from bad to worse.  I developed pleurisy and an infarction and I couldn't breathe without an intense amount of pain.  I cried a lot.  But that only made things worse, because it involved taking even more breaths, and I felt like I couldn't catch my breath.  I was hooked up to a blood thinner drip and given pain meds.  They worked well for maybe half the time they were supposed to until my next dose came.  It was horrible.  I cried through my entire EKG, and at one point during my stay, the neighbor in my room came over to comfort me from all the pain I was in.  I could only speak in sentences broken by heavy breathing, as if I had just finished a race.  My resting heart rate was ridiculous for someone who was supposed to be in the best shape of her life.  I was told this was all caused by birth control pills.  On the bright side, I was also told that being in such great shape may have saved my life.
I am so thankful for the support that I had from family and friends over that whole ordeal.  I spent the first week or so after coming home mainly in bed, watching the entire Breaking Bad series, and I especially feel blessed for my husband, who made sure I had all I needed and took care of everything for me and the kids.

I am also very thankful for the National Blood Clot Alliance, which was an invaluable resource for me in my recovery.  I had questions.  Oh, so many questions.  They gave me hope and much needed guidance at the time I needed it most.  I've been wanting to run for Team Stop the Clot for some time now and I am thrilled to be able to fund raise for them and help in their goal of promoting awareness.  I had no clue and neither do so many others.  Many people think it is something that only happens to the elderly or overweight folks.  This is not true at all.  It can happen to anyone and knowledge is power!  1 in 3 people with blood clots in the lungs will die and often the first symptom is death.  Very scary indeed!
Recovery from PEs is very individual and I've heard stories that run the gamut.  Thankfully, I had a swift recovery and things improved greatly for me.  I worked my way back to health.  I took my first running steps in my third week out of the hospital.  By five months after my diagnosis, I was able to toe the line at the Boston Marathon, which I had signed up for before falling ill, and ran it 7 minutes faster than the year before!  A month after that I ran my first ultramarathon, a 50 miler. I have gone on to run Steamtown two more times since then, running another PR there in 2014, and am currently training to run the Boston Marathon again in April.  In the fall, I will most likely run Steamtown again, and then, what I am most looking forward to, a celebration run at the NYC Marathon with Team Stop the Clot!  I am so honored to be a part of it!"
THANK YOU Angela for being a part of this year's team.
No question that you will make the CLOT BUSTER TEAM #StopTheClot polka-dots look amazing during the race in November.
Thank You for reading,
The Clot Buster.

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