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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June Athlete of the Month - 2nd year of postings about people that INSPIRE us all!



Hard to believe!

Two years = 24 postings = A whole lot of inspiration to all who have had a blood clot and want to return to do whatever is that they love.

To celebrate the Second Anniversary of the Athlete of the Month Postings I want to introduce to you someone I got the chance to meet thanks to the magic of the web. I hope that I can someday meet her in person just to see if some of her abundant energy can rub off on me just by being around her...

Please allow me to introduce you to KATHERINE SIRON. Hers is a very interesting story of survival that was possible thanks to her being in shape. This time around I will start my post with an article that was written about Katherine that explains her ordeal much better than I can ever can so please read on... "That Katie Siron survived for weeks, backpacking through Europe as two massive blood clots took hold in her lungs, astonished her doctor after her return to the states. And if she hadn’t been in above average cardiovascular condition before her trip, training for the Chicago Marathon, she might not be here to tell her story.
It begins with an overnight flight from Charlotte to London in the spring of 2008. After staying awake for the first hour and a half of the flight, then 24-year-old Katie took an Ambien and slept hard until it was time for landing, even as she wound up in an awkward position.
As she traveled with her and her friend from high school through England, France and Germany, she never noticed anything wrong in her lower body, just the aches you would expect after backpacking several miles a day and climbing stairs to explore sites like the Louvre. But by the time the pair hit Italy, Siron’s cough started, and she felt like she was coming down with something. Then at her hotel in Assisi, she sat up in the middle of the night and couldn’t breathe. “I had this stabbing pain in my back, almost as if I had pulled a muscle or had a pinched nerve.”
She pressed on, taking Ibuprofen for the pain, but it was still so severe she couldn’t lie down and she struggled while walking. After 48 hours without sleep, she went to a hospital in Rome, where the doctor noticed her backpack, dismissed her problem as muscular and gave her a prescription for anti-inflammatory medicine and muscle relaxers.
The medicine masked the problem, allowing Siron to stick it out, visit the Vatican and, amazingly, ride to the top of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. It would be several more weeks, before a CAT scan in Columbia revealed the bilateral pulmonary emboli as well as the tissue that had died in her lungs as a result.
“Katie,” Siron remembers her primary care doctor telling her, “You should have come home in a box.”
A Doppler scan did not show any evidence of clots in her legs. Her doctors suspect the clotting may have started in her pelvic region before migrating to her lungs, and they decided to quickly insert a filter in her inferior vena cava to stop any other possible clots from reaching the heart and lungs.
While Siron is seeing Charleston hematologist Dr. David Ellison to determine any blood disorder, it’s apparent that her blood is prone to clotting faster than most people. As a result, she no longer takes birth control pills, which were intended to counter a history of ovarian cysts, but likely elevated her risk. In fact, she took the heavily marketed Yazmin birth control, which has been linked in lawsuits to blood clots.
Now she takes an aspirin every day to thin her blood and the anticoagulant Heparin when flying for more than three hours. She wears a heart monitor when running, but she still intends to enter the Chicago Marathon someday, and it’s as important for her to stay active now as it ever was.
She also plans to become a physician’s assistant and get her master’s in public health. Along the way, she hopes to help educate people about the dangers that blood clots and a pulmonary embolism can pose.
“She considers her story a miracle, but realizes that others who are suddenly stricken by deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism aren’t always as fortunate.
“God has given me a tremendous gift – the opportunity to tell my story and help others. Take charge of your health care. Be educated. Know your risks. And never assume it won’t happen to you.”

If you are not satisfied by the article above then keep on reading to learn more about the amazing Katherine!

1) What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
Such a tough question. I grew up playing multiple sports (volleyball, basketball, softball, tennis, golf, etc) I never concentrated on one thing. Since high school, I've had to readjust to staying athletic and finding alternatives to a once "team sport" junkie. Running and triathlons have been my love since 2002! Triathlons are a great way to stay fit, injury free, and allow an athlete to find one of the three disciplines a strength. Mine is the bike. I've never been a fast runner, but I'm a decent swimmer and can crank 20+ mph on the bike. Running is on the list because I love a challenge. I lost lung function after my PE's and it's almost a game for me to find out how to better use my remaining lung capacity. Yoga, swimming, & running are the best. Or so I'm told by my doctors. :)

2) How did you get started in that sport?
I saw my first triathlon in 2000 in Kinston, Ontario and watched a woman complete in the race with one arm and no hair. She apparently had suffered or was suffering from breast cancer and they had removed her entire right arm. I had never heard of a triathlon until that day and I remember thinking "If she can do it, anyone can." I came home inspired, bought a bike, and started training in all three disciplines. My first race was two years later, the summer before starting college.

3) What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve? (Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did)
I just completed the San Diego Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon and I'm registered for the Chicago Half Marathon in September and the full Chicago Marathon in October. I'm also doing the Charleston Triathlon Series this summer.

4) Tells about your clotting episode. Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
My story is a pretty unique one. I was 24 years old when I left for Europe on a backpacking trip with a close friend of mine. I wanted to avoid "jet lag" and was given a sample of Ambien to take on the way over, considering I've always had trouble sleeping on planes. He also gave me several prescriptions, per my request that would cure just about anything I could possible encounter (several antibiotics, anti nausea/vomiting, etc) You get the drift. Ironically, I had everything except for the one thing I'd need on my adventure. I took my Ambien, curled up to the window seat on my giant Airbus plane, and slept from Charlotte, NC to London's Gatwick airport. I arrived refreshed and ready to hit the town. That first day, we walked at least 1o miles touring London. We were full of adrenaline and life seemed perfect. About ten days later, in Venice, Italy, I felt as if I was coming down with a cold. My body ached all over (especially my back), but seemed manageable with a little ibuprofen. The next day we were off to Assisi, a short overnight before hitting Rome. Upon arriving in Assisi, we went to Mass at the St. Francis Basilica and then crashed at our hotel. That was the night everything turned for the worse. I woke up gasping for air and had pains shooting down my back. I had trouble finding an English speaking doctor, so I headed to Rome and found the Rome/American hospital where they dismissed me as having back pain due to muscular strain and sent me on my way with a prescription for a pain medication and muscle relaxer. When I arrived at the pharmacy, barely able to walk, I was given two boxes of vials and a box of syringes. My medications were inter-muscular injections that I would have to give myself. I was in so much pain at that point that I didn't even care. I hadn't slept in three days and there wasn't a big enough shot in the world to keep me from feeling better. I started feeling relief after the first round of injections and continued my "four times a day" routine until I got home. During that time I went to the top of the Alps, saw the Vatican, and continued my trip throughout Europe, only by cab instead of by foot. When I got home, I made an appointment with a local orthopedist to rule out my back being severely injured. He did some tests and several x-rays and told me that my chest xray looked "a little funny", like I had contracted a viral pneumonia while on my trip. That made perfect sense to me and I figured that's where my pleuritic pain was coming from. He dismissed me and told me to follow up with my primary care physician. While leaving the office, I called my internist, told him the story, and he worked me in. After taking my history, he told me that I was going to need to go downstairs to their imaging center and have a CT scan. I went downstairs, drank some berry flavored barium, IV in my arm, wondering why he was doing this test. I remember asking the tech why they were looking for and she said "He's ruling out blood clots in your lungs." I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard! "Who get's those!" I thought. Once we finished the test, the tech sent me directly back upstairs and told me my results would be ready shortly. When I walked in the office my doctor and his nurse were waiting there with a wheelchair and told me to get in. Apparently the radiologist was shocked that I was even walking an immediately called upstairs before I could even get out of the elevator. I had blood clots in both lungs and a pulmonary infarction (dead lung tissue from the clots). My clots were HUGE and my doctors only comment was that I "should have come home in a box." I was rushed to the hospital where they started a heparin drip and put me on immediate bed rest. After 24 hours, an interventional radiologist put in an IVC filter to prevent any further clots from making it up to my heart, lungs, or brain. I still have my filter today and I like to refer to it as my "safety net." I'm now considered high risk pregnancy, can no longer take birth control pills, and must use Lovenox shots while traveling, immobile, or pre/post surgery. My doctors feel comfortable keeping me off Coumadin since I have a filter in place, but if I encounter another clotting episode, I've "bought it for life" as they like to say. When you have medical professionals coming to your hospital room asking to see "the miracle child" and realize you survived something incredible is the most humbling feeling imaginable. So many do not survive and don't get to tell their story. I have been given a second chance and plan on using it to live everyday to the fullest, run like I've never run before, and spread the work about this silent killer than affects so many people. Blood clots may not be in the mainstream media, but they are mainstream in the population.
Take charge of your health care. Be educated. Know your risks. And never assume it won’t happen to you.

5) When were you able to get back into your activity? How did it feel that first time?
It took me a while before I was allowed to be active again. I felt like a caged animal and wanted nothing more than to go outside and run 'til I couldn't run anymore. It's one thing to not run and a completely other story to be told that you CAN'T run! I had been training for the Chicago Marathon before my trip and went from running the race to watching the race. That was torture! My first run was two months after Chicago and I was in tears when I laced up my shoes for the first time. My cardiovascular fitness was gone, I was starting from scratch, but I was outside and able to run! What an incredible feeling. A second chance!

A second chance indeed...

But don't fear this post is not over yet. Second part of this post to follow I just want for you to enjoy this post and look forward to the second part..


Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

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My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!