She is been kind enough to let me bother her and share with us some of her thoughts about her clottting incident and how she is managing her life after going through a life changing event like this...
1) What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
My sport of choice is triathlon - and I love it because it challenges me in so many ways, both mentally and physically. With 3 sports rolled into one, it never gets boring. One of my favorite things about doing tris are other triathletes. My training buds are some of the most interesting, fun, crazy and talented people I know, never a dull moment when we get together to play. My other sport is skydiving - but I'll admit to be a bit of a "has-been" in that one, with about 1100 jumps under my belt.
By complete chance. Some years ago a good friend said "lets try a tri, come on, it will be fun" - and I said "ok, sure, why not, how hard can it be...". At the time I didn't consider myself athletic, didn't even own a bike and couldn't run 100 yards without passing out. A couple of months later I was a proud finisher of a sprint distance triathlon and head over heals in love with the sport (except the running part).
This year has been a bit quiet on the racing front as I got married last June. Trekking home to Iceland with my future husband and 20 of our best friends in tow - and then putting on a wedding in 7 days was an endurance event in it's own right, but very fun :) Triathlon wise, I have decided to dedicate this winter to fight my old nemesis: the run. I got a coach (funny enough, the same person who initially talked me into doing the first triathlon) and now I have high hopes that I will not be passed by quite as many 11-year-olds in future races. I am also planning on an Olympic tri in Miami in March and toying with a half IM in New Orleans in April.
I had my first clot (DVT) over Christmas 2006. I embarked on a long trip to see my family for the holidays in the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. At the time I was using birth control (Nuva ring) and training pretty hard for what was to be my first OL distance tri. The air travel was anything but smooth but finally after 36 hrs or so in cramped quarters we arrived. The following morning my leg felt a little stiff, but since I had slipped on wet tiles the day before I attributed it to a pulled muscle and soldiered on. The following day it was worse, so I tried hefty doses of ibuprofen, a long walk/jog, then a massage and a long hot bath, then finally a good few beers with my brothers. I'm still amazed that none of that sent the clot flying. My calf had not changed in appearance, there was no heat or direct pain, just stiffness. My mom actually suggested that I might have a blood clot and that I should get checked out, but I dismissed that and told her that was something that happened to old ladies. Certainly not me, being in such good shape and all. When it came time to return home, I was in a good deal of pain and not really able to walk - but we packed up and got on a plane back to Florida. We got home on December 31st and that night went to dinner at a friends house. The host is a nurse, so I had her take a look and after describing the symptoms she immediately said "go to the ER, this sounds an awful lot like a clot". I dismissed her and told her I actually thought it was getting better, but promised that I would go see a doc if it wasn't markedly improved by morning. She was not happy with that, but I'm stubborn. The following morning I finally went to a doctor and he immediately sent me for an ultrasound at the ER - where nothing was found. They sent me home with instructions to lay low and keep off the leg and go see my general doc to find out what was going on. The following morning the hospital called again to let me know that they wanted me to come back in for another scan right away, and that time around it jumped out at them. I spent 5 days in the hospital and was put on bloodthinners (Warfarin). I did not tolerate that very well and despite strict diet and huge doses was not able to thin out properly. I was then put on Arixtra injections which seemed to work better. The doctor wanted me to stay on blood thinners for a year, but several studies I got my hands on indicated that 9 months after first clot was adequate. We had some hefty debates over treatment but he did agree to the 9 months. I have been drug free ever since.
I started training slowly as soon as the doctor gave me the green light - which was about 3 weeks after being admitted. I started off with swimming and biking. I still had pain in the leg and some swelling and wore compression socks a lot. Running (well, jogging) was awful. Hurt during the run, but the real pain began after it was done. It was also scary to train whilst on blood thinners, I was especially careful in choosing my riding partners to avoid wrecking. It was a little scary going back, every little ache or pain brought thoughts of having another clot. It was a strange transition to go from feeling strong and healthy one day to a sickly little wimp the next day. I did some more reading up, joined internet forums and found out about an alternate "drug" called Nattokinase (Natto). It is an enzyme extracted from fermented soy beans (a traditional fare in old Japan) that seems to break down fibrin in the blood stream. I spoke to my doc about it and he vehemently opposed at first. The research behind it is not very strong as of yet and probably wont be for a long while, as this is not a treatment backed by the drug giants. After having spoken to many people that described good experiences with Natto, I decided I wanted to try it. Eventually the doctor gave me the ok to go for it. To me, Nattokinase was a wonder drug - within 2-3 weeks of taking it, I was free of pain for the most part except after the hardest of workouts. I stayed on the Natto for about 2 months and continued to improve. Since then, I have used it only when I feel something "funny" or am about to embark on a long travel. I waited to go back to jumping until I was off the blood clots.
My Orbea Ora bike is by far my favorite, I simply love the little beast! I'm just bummed that they didn't have the red and white colors out when I bought mine - would have made for a nice clot busting bike ;) It doesn't always love me back, but together we keep on getting faster and stronger :) One day I am pretty sure that a Clot Buster tri top will be high on the list too :)
I've been a bit of a slacker this summer, it is hard to stay on it in the Florida heat during July and August. But now that I can sense a bit of cool in the air again, the motivation is coming back strong. A ideal week would be 2x swim, 3x runs and 2x bikes, but that is if everything goes according to plan, which it rarely does - so I guess I average it out with 4-5 workouts a week when I'm in training.
I'm not much of a foodie, but a nice, ice cold Coke is my reward after a hard workout. In an effort to control my cola addiction and live healthier, I decided a few years to drink soda only on the weekends, so it tastes even sweeter to me now!
Nepal and/or Tibet - the terrain and culture are incredibly alluring to me. Seeing the Himalayas up close would be incredible.
For most everyone having a blood clot means a huge change in lifestyle initially - along with a rude awakening to own mortality. I suggest trying to maintain a positive, "can-do" attitude and learn as much about your condition as possible. Explore your options, discuss them with your doctor, talk to other clotters - keep an open but objective mind. Having the goal of completing the triathlon I was training for was very important to me - it gave me what I needed to get off the couch, face my fears and start the journey back to good health. I consider myself very fortunate to have returned 99% to my former self - but it took taking 100% responsibility for myself and my actions. I immediately discontinued hormonal birth control (can I plug here the Lady Comp ovulation monitor? It's fantastic!), I pledged to live a healthy and active lifestyle and learn as much as I could about my condition (I am Factor V Leiden positive). It was scary at first and the thought of "the next one" loomed near. But little by little I got out of that mindset and today, nearing 3 years clot free, I feel I have come to a good balance in my life again. It saddens me when I meet people that have let the clot stop them dead in their tracks. Full recovery may not always possible, but for so many at least some improvements can be made over time. Never stop fighting!