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Friday, May 04, 2018

May Athlete of the Month

Do you believe? 

Do you believe that anything is possible? 

Do you believe that anything is possible for survivors? 

Do you believe that anything is possible for BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS? 

Well... after almost 10 years of blogging about what Blood Clot Survivors CAN and ARE achieving I would say that this blog and STOPTHECLOT.org...

DO BELIEVE THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS!!!

It does not matter if it is your first race or your 100th... Just the fact that you can overcome the challenges of your blood clotting incident puts you in a category on its own.  It is not an easy road to travel but the rewards of feeling the "sweet pain of your accomplishment" are greater than anything!

DAPHNE is definitely recovering from enjoy the "sweet pain of her accomplishment"... She is back and willing to share her inspiring story with all of us.

Read on and enjoy!

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
I take a few classes at the gym at work. I enjoy running and hiking as well. Running especially is a great way for me to relax and release stress at the end of a long work day. It's a time where I can just be alone in my own head and think.

How did you get started in that sport? 
I started running several years ago to lose weight and get in shape. I really enjoyed it and saw some great results, but as time went on I got busy and started a family so running fell to the back burner and eventually I stopped it altogether. I decided in January of this year that I wanted to get back into it so in order to motivate myself I signed up for my first half marathon and started a training program.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
My latest milestone was completing my first half marathon on April 30, 2018.

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
I was diagnosed with massive bilateral pulmonary embolism on April 10th and was in the hospital until April 13th. We are fairly confident the PE resulted from a combination of birth control pills and a long flight to and from Africa at the end of March. My symptoms really started a couple weeks prior to my diagnosis when I had horrible left shoulder, chest and back pain and I couldn't take a deep breath because it hurt so bad. The day before I went to the ER I tried to jog on a treadmill at work and couldn't even jog for 1 minute because I was in so much pain and it was so hard to breathe. The next day I walked up one flight of stairs at work and thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest and again I couldn't breathe. I decided to go to my PC physician and she, after speaking to her husband who ended up being my Pulmonologist in the hospital, sent me to the ER. My Pulmonologist is fairly aggressive at treating this condition, so since I was relatively healthy otherwise he moved me to ICU for one night and gave me tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) to actively dissolve the clots. The reason for ICU is this treatment can lead to an increased risk of bleeding so I was in ICU for closer observation. The treatment worked well and I was released 2 days later with no restrictions. I was put on Eliquis and will be on it for at least 6 months at which time we will do an ultrasound on my legs and a d-Dimer test and make a decision on what to do next.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?
When I left the hospital I had no restrictions. I was just told to listen to my body. My Pulmonologist is actually the one who encouraged me to go ahead and run the half marathon I had been training for prior to my trip to Africa. My first week out of the hospital I just walked on the treadmill a couple days for 30 minutes each time. That felt good, but I was still afraid to actually run. I finally decided to try to run around my neighborhood toward the end of that first week. Once I got the courage up to go from walking to running I was surprised I felt as good as I did. I ended up running/jogging for 30 minutes less than a week after being released from the hospital. The following week I ran a couple days on the treadmill at work and then at the end of that week. Just over 2 weeks from being released I ran my half marathon. I ended up walking more than I wanted to during the race, but considering where I had been just 2 weeks prior, I was pleased with my results. I finished in 2:56:46!


What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? 
My favorite running shoes have been Brooks for several years now. I've had a few different styles and love them all!

How much are you getting out doing your sport? 
I do some form of workout at least 4 days a week. While training, I was running 3 - 4 days a week on top of my regular workout classes. Now that the race is finished I will continue to run at least a couple times a week in addition to the classes I take at the gym.

What is your favorite food? Either generally or after a workout.  
I've recently started using RX Bars and they are great! I like them for a between meal snack or after workout snack. That is also what I had for my pre-race "meal" along with a Naked Juice. 


If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
I would go back to Australia or Kenya. I've been to both and absolutely loved them, so I would love to go back...this time with compression socks and leg exercises on the plane. :)

What would you 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? Tell us about your concerns and what you look out after. 
I would tell someone going through a similar experience to trust their gut and if they think something is wrong go have it checked out. I would also say to ask your doctor about the possibility of a tPA, especially if you are healthy and strong otherwise. Once you are in recovery, do as much as you can and trust that the medicine you are taking is doing it's job to keep you safe from more clots. I believe a big factor for me being able to return to as close to normal as I can has been my faith. I have no doubt that the reason I'm still here is because God wasn't done with me yet. I just have to trust Him that He is taking care of me. I do have concerns and fears at times that the little pains I feel in my legs or in my arm or chest might be another clot, but when those fears creep up on me I just remind myself that I'm on blood thinners, it takes a little time for the clots to all dissolve completely, and God is with me. When I tell myself those things I always calm back down and can think rationally.

How cool is it that she was able to run her half-marathon so soon after her clotting incident...!

I have seen quick recoveries but this one is beyond impressive.

No question that Daphne will be out there enjoying the sweet pain of more accomplishments down the road.  Who knows maybe they will be in far away places so that she can show those clots who is the boss!!!

Anything is possible to those who believe.

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Monday, April 02, 2018

April Athlete of the Month

March Madness is over...

As you may have noticed from Twitter My March Madness is a bit different than the bracket related one... March is BLOOD CLOT AWARENESS MONTH and a time to hammer away the point that blood clots can be preventable. 

That patients need to know the signs and symptoms of blood clots so that you can take preventive measures. 

That blood clots can cause a significant impact in your life but despite the challenge you can overcome the clotting incident and return to a normal lifestyle as much as possible. 

Although March is over the work of spreading awareness, the celebration of all clot survivors, and the remembrance of those who lost along the way continues every day.

Thank you for coming along and being part of this effort!

This month we are very fortunate to have another personal account of facing the impact of blood clots and overcoming the challenges in order to return to a normal lifestyle that pushes the boundaries. 

Please allow me to introduce to you Cindy and her personal story you can read below.

THANK YOU Cindy for your willingness to share your story.  No doubt that someone out there will identify from it and find that spark that allows them to get inspired.

Read on!

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
Triathlon!  Specifically I love IRONMAN 70.3 distance although I have also completed a full 140.6 distance as well.  I enjoy triathlon for many reasons, the community, the challenge, the fact that no two races will ever be the same even if you are competing at the exact venue the race/event will always be different. The weather, training, nutrition, etc. it’s always different and trying to figure out how to “beat yesterday” is always fun to me.

How did you get started in that sport? 
Well, I have not been a lifetime athlete by any means. I started running around the age of 28 or so when a friend asked me to train with her to run and half marathon to lose her baby weight.  I was hooked on endurance sports then.  I ran several half marathons and marathons, had a baby of my own and kept running.  Then I started joining running groups when one of the coaches said “you should do a triathlon.”  I thought he was crazy, I had swam a lap in the pool since I was 17.  So, I jumped into a pool to see how far I could get and was determined to try something I had never done before.  

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did) 
I’ve competed in fourteen  IRONMAN 70.3, and one 140.6 IRONMAN events. I still run a couple of 5ks (not my favorite because they hurt to much) and just finished a half marathon at the Chattanooga Marathon Weekend a few weeks ago.  This upcoming year, I will compete in a couple of triathlons and I have started Mountain Biking too as cross training so I’m on the fence about trying out an Xterra event.

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
It was July of 2010, one month after my first sprint triathlon, and I was 35 years old when I woke up one day with a sharp pain by my left chest. I ignored it for a day but by the next day it hurt every time I inhaled so I went into the doctor and calmly explained my pain. I figured there would be some simple rational explanation for the symptom, after all I was only 35 years old and in great shape.  She asked me some questions and sent me to the hospital for a few outpatient test to rule out things. So I got an VQ test, D-Dimer blood test and a chest x-ray.  All were negative so they sent me home with the diagnosis of pneumonia and antibiotics and a few pain pills.
Middle of the night the same day I woke up with the worst pain of my life but I again just lay there thinking it was nothing.  By morning I called the doctor back and she said to go to the ER.  More tests, more questions..had I been on any long trips, and calf pain, smoker , etc.  The answers were all no so I had no known risk factors for a clot. They gave me stronger pain meds and sent me on my way saying to take it easy with the pneumonia they thought they saw on the X-ray and CT scan.  I made it two more days at home before being admitted to the hospital for what they still believe to me pneumonia.  Stayed there for a week being treated by IV antibiotics with not much help.  I was ready to get home to my 3 year old baby girl and ready to get back to my usual activities of running and biking (did I mention I was/am slightly addicted to exercise?)
I was finally released to go home to continue to heal but again the pain got much, much worse.  So I ended back up in the ER once again and after another CT this time I was admitted for a severe pulmonary embolism and lung infarction. I spent a week in the ICU this time.  They had regrettably missed the clot that entire time because I had no known risk factors and was a seemingly healthy 35 year old female. Turns out I have factor IV and that with birth control is a deadly combination. 
I remember laying in that ER when they told me and instantly wishing I could have pneumonia.
I was on lovenox injections for 8 long months. I tried Warfarin but we could never keep a consistent INR so we just went with injections.
It was a hard time…not being able to do what I loved, being scared all of the time, angry, depressed, tired.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?   
I started walking as soon as the doctor said I could, which was a few months after I went home.  I tried to run but couldn’t do it.  I would often end up crying on walks on my way home wondering if I’d ever be able to run again but also having a deep desire to not let this beat me.  I participated in my first IM 70.3 the next May, so 10 months after my pulmonary embolism. I was still scared and had plenty of false alarm visits to the ER but it felt like I got my life back that day. 


What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster Polka-dot Performance Running Shirt...
My favorite brand of triathlon clothing is Betty Designs, it’s a great brand for women only and it’s kind of this amazing tribe of women supporting other women.  And recently I ran for the first time in my Stop the Clot trucker hat and loved every mile in it.

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
exercise 5-6 days a week. Competing whenever I can fit it in. 
 
What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito
My favorite food after a long (think 3-5 hours) bike is a craft beer and burger..ok maybe 2 beers :)



If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
Next on my list of epic things to do is visit and hike the grand caynon someday.
  
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? Tells about your concerns and what you look out after as you got back.
I would say to reach out to people who have been through it or are going through it.  I was very isolated and didn’t find this support group until after I was back on my feet.  My heart goes out to every one that is or has dealt with DVTs. 
My advice:
Try not to let it hold you back, get back to doing whatever you can and what you enjoy. And don’t be so hard on yourself if it takes some time to get back to the “old you”…the point is that YOU CAN and YOU WILL get back.
My concerns going forward:
My risk factors are still always on my mind and I think about how to avoid future episodes, whether that’s taking lovenox when I am injured (stress fracture) or when I travel for long drive or flight, and I try to always stay hydrated.

Once again MANY THANKS Cindy for sharing your story.

I will be staying away from any races that you are doing just because I don't have any shot of stay close to make it a race.  Your story certainly can give hope to others going through their very own clotting incident.  

Anything is possible to those who believe!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

March Athlete of the Month


WELCOME TO MARCH
BLOOD CLOT AWARENESS MONTH


Let's CLIMB FOR CLOTS!
Come on and join me to make a difference.  Climb more than me in March and get your choice of a performance CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots Trucker Hat or Visor courtesy of this Clot Buster! Let's CLIMB ON!


https://secure.qgiv.com/event/climbforclots2018/

March is very special month to spread even more awareness about blood clots and blood clotting disorders.

Also March is very special because we continue to celebrate ALL BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS and remember those we lost along the way.  We should not have to EVER lose anyone so that is why this effort continues to make this condition preventable every time.

As crazy as it sounds blood clots are also linked to INSPIRATION TO OVERCOME.  This is the positive side of having blood clots.  The incredible will to beat this challenge deserves all of our admiration.  I am so lucky to have the opportunity to share these personal accounts with you every month.  Every single one of them provides me with a spark to overcome.

This month MICHELLE M. is sharing her personal experience with us.  THANK YOU Michelle for your willingness to share your story.  Your experience will resonate with someone who is need of answers and guidance.  Every word below has the power to provide someone that spark that can and will provide hope to get them through the challenges of a clotting incident.  READ ON...

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
How did you get started in that sport?
This has changed back and forth between my “story” and an injury, but it has always been running.  I have always struggled with my weight and after the birth of both my children it became clear that I needed more than just nutrition.  I started taking a spin class at my gym and learned that I really liked it.  The rush was like no other and the calorie burn was amazing.  That obsession grew.  Within a few months I was starting to run short distances on the treadmill and learning that running was an even bigger “high” for me than spinning.  It didn’t take me long to begin racing.  I started out with a biathlon, a few 5k’s and then it grew from there.  I also fell in love with trail running.  I wasn’t very fast but being able to conquer the trails and terrain was a bigger accomplishment for me than the actual speed.  Before I knew it, I had signed up for my first marathon.  I would plan family camping trips around races and they were extremely supportive of my passion.  I was a runner and enjoyed my time alone and strength that it gave me.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
Well, this has been altered due to my health issues.  I had major hip surgery in September 2017 and was told I should NOT run again until I have a full hip replacement (hopefully in 7 years).  My hip has never been shaped “normal” due to being born with some dysplasia but running on it like I did created even more issues.  So, today 4 months post major hip surgery, my accomplishment is making it to spin class 2 times a week and hoping to sneak in an extra from time to time.  

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
No one’s clotting episode is “normal” now that I have learned about PE’s and mine was far from the normal.  I had suffered for about 18 months with abdominal pain.  I took many trips to the doctor, ER, urgent care, etc.  I had been tested for gallbladder issues (which they ultimately removed), possible appendix attacks, and the list goes on.  I had been pushed around, looked at like a drug user just looking to get pain pills, but never got any answers.  Finally, in May of 2016, I went into the ER for severe pain and they found a large fibroid had formed on my uterus.  I followed up with the OB/GYN and was on the operating table less than 30 days later.  Due to the size of the fibroid, I would have to have a full cut abdominal hysterectomy.  This was considered a major surgery and would be about an 6-8-week recovery.  I had the surgery, all was fine, uterus was removed, and the healing began.  About 10 days post op, I woke up and felt like I was getting a cold or the flu.  I was achy, clammy and just felt off.  I went in to see my doctor and he said not to worry, it was probably just a virus and it would pass.  Day by day, the aches got worse, I could barely get up from the couch.  I hurt from the tips of my toes to the top of my head.  I went to see my general practitioner and told him how I felt.  He advised me that I had had major surgery, and this was just a part of the recovery.  I explained I felt different, but I really couldn’t pin point what that feeling was.  During the exam, the doctor noted a dry cough.  In addition to lab work, he ordered a chest x-ray to make sure the cough wasn’t anything serious.

I wasn’t home from this appointment for more than an hour and the nurse called and said I had pneumonia and the doctor would be treating me with antibiotics and steroids.  I was blown away.  I didn’t have any true symptoms of pneumonia.  How could this be?  The next morning, it was a Saturday, my doctor called me.  This seemed odd because number 1 it was a Saturday morning and 2 he NEVER calls himself.  He explained that the x-ray found a spot on my right lung and even though they were not 100% sure it looked to be pneumonia and I should start that treatment, which I did. He also mentioned that my blood work showed some elevated numbers but was very vague about those and didn’t provide a lot of details.  Everything was blown off to being a part of the recovery process. 

By Sunday, I felt great!  My aches were minimal, I had energy again and even threw an impromptu pool party.  I was finally getting better and was ecstatic.  That feeling lasted until Tuesday morning and then I hit a wall again (the steroids had worn off).  The aches, the lethargy and just plain feeling of being “off” had returned.  I called the doctor and he once again, blew me off.  He told me I needed to see a specialist because I probably had the onset of arthritis. 

By Tuesday afternoon, I was in tears and felt lost.  Was I losing my mind?  What was wrong with me? I called a patient rep at our local health system and asked for help.  She couldn’t do anything but sympathize with my “pain”.  By Wednesday morning I called my OBGYN and learned he was on vacation.  Finally, after getting to his nurse, I spoke with another OBGYN and he explained that it sounded like my pneumonia had gotten bad and I probably needed to be admitted.  He got me into see a pulmonary doctor that afternoon (which was a miracle). 

The pulmonary doctor was very thorough and I really thought this was just another blow off.  I took my mom with me as my husband was at work and it didn’t take long to see the x-ray up on the screen and him to explain that he was convinced it was something more.  He sent me to the hospital where I learned very quickly that the CT Scan had discovered multiple clots in both lungs and a large infarction on my right lung along with pleurisy.  I was admitted immediately.

After a whirlwind admittance, a lot of doctors and a lot of nurses it was decided that because I was just about 4 weeks post op with a large abdominal incision, choosing the right thinner was imperative.  I was put on Eliquis due to its mild side affects and hopes that there would be less chance of bleeding issues.  I left the hospital 2 days later, lost, confused and angry.  Why had this happened to me and how do I move on?  No one could explain how it happened, why it happened and why it took so long to find. I had lost all faith in medicine and didn’t know which way o turn. I was instructed to stay on Eliquis for 6 months, be checked by my GP and good luck!

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?  
The first few weeks after my PE diagnosis, it took everything I had to just walk around the block.  Living in the Midwest and it being July, the humidity played havoc on my healing lungs, so my process was slow. I was out of work a complete 12 weeks due to healing of both the hysterectomy and the PE’s.  By fall I was ready to run.  That first run, I laughed, and I cried.  It felt amazing and I had a feeling of being blessed to just be alive and able to get back to my sport.  

What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster's Running Polka-Dot Technical Shirt…
Today my favorite piece of gear is my polka dot running shirt paired with my old (and falling apart) Under Armor capris running tights and my spin shoes.  

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week)
Part of my PE recovery included learning the condition of my hip and the limitations that were included in that so, I have had to rediscover my passion for biking to preserve my hip.  Right now, I’m at the gym 2 – 3 times a week attending a spin class and strengthening my hip.  

What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
My favorite food is pizza.  I love pizza in all its many forms.  My favorite is fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella but am learning to make my own cauliflower crusts and use my own ingredients.  It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting close to perfecting my process.  Add some homemade sauce and a nice glass of red wine and I’m a happy camper.

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
I’m not a big traveler, but if I could go anywhere internationally it would be Italy.  Pizza and wine 😊 

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? Tells about your concerns and what you look out after as you got back.
If I could tell anyone anything about my clotting episode is find a solid support system and depend on it.  If I didn’t have my husband and my mom to lean on, I’m not sure where I would be.  This is a disorder that is hard for others to understand because you cannot “see it” by looking at someone.  If you are lucky enough to survive the clots, find a way to embrace that.  There will be a number of “after effects” that follow and I’m about 18 months into my recovery and I still have a lot to learn.  I have learned that many of the issues I am facing are related to what is called PTSD.  I didn’t get in a terrible accident, I didn’t fight in combat, but I have been diagnosed with a disorder that will forever live within my subconscious and some days it haunts me more than others.  Physically, I’m clear of clots.  My lungs are healed and there was never a specific place identified that the clot came from. I’m still working through the mental side of things and I don’t think I will ever be 100% but I can tell you that I wake up every day and hope that I can help one person get through their day as a survivor.  This is a condition that I do not wish upon anyone but today as I write this, I am a changed person and although some days I don’t like that person, other days I am so very proud of the obstacles I have overcome, and I cannot wait to see who I will become.

We are all looking forward to see who you will become Michelle as you continue to navigate the challenges of the survival from your clotting incident.  Never Stop trying to overcome.  I am looking forward some day to share in a slice (or two or there... in case you did not know I can eat...) of your home made pizza pie!  I will be sure to bring the best vino I can get my hands on...

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