Blood Clotting survivor who prior to her clotting incident had completed NOT ONE but TWO IRONMAN distance triathlons is looking to recover fast enough in order to be ready to race her THIRD IRONMAN triathlon in as many years.
I was/am very impressed with May's Athelete of the Month I can't even put it into words. IRONMAN distance triathlon I day dream about and ocassionally drool about...
I can't help to root for this lady and hope with crossed fingers and legs that her clotting incident, which she is about to share with all of us, does not stop her from achieving #3.
Please allow me to introduce you to TAMMY ROETHER who got in touch with me looking for polka-dots to wear. Well, now she is going to get some very nice looking CLOT BUSTER - STOP THE CLOT polka dots but also she gets to share her story with us... Please read and get inspired because this lady sure is dynamite!
Tell us about your previous Ironman Distance experience...
I completed my first one 2 years ago (big foot tri) a VERY small one in Canada in amazingly clear water. That year I also did Vineman 70.3. Last year I completed Vineman 140.6 and they think that MIGHT have started the clot (dehydration). I was also sick with a cold and in the porta potty 17 times in the 16 hours I was out there. I signed up for Arizona Ironamn 2 days prior to landing in critical care. I almost didn’t sign up, as that was the day that I was crying in pain but I am stubborn like that!
How did your clotting incident come about?
I started to get headaches, which was not normal. first I thought, its just a headache. So I kept going, not letting anything slow me down. I had 4 half marathons in 4 weeks in 3 states for goodness sake! LOL but finally, the pain was too much and they were too often. I went to the doctors, and they thought it was my cold from a month back returning. They gave me tons of meds, steroids, etc. to take but the pain didn’t stop. I knew that my deductibles were going to be restarting, so I left the doctor a message, asking if we could do whatever the next step was. By the time she called me back, I was crying in pain and she knows I have a pretty good pain tolerance (I mean I do Ironmans! LOL) so she asked if I wanted vicodine, and I said I'll take the pain if it helps you figure this out. She thought I needed sinus surgery (although no history of sinus problems outside of a cold) we got a CT scan and she called me pretty panicked the next day that my CT scan was clear. I said "isn't that good news?" she said "get back there ASAP and get another one done" I asked what she was looking for, and she wouldn’t say. I then asked her if she was looking for a brain tumor and she said yes. I got to live with that for 36 hours before my next CT scan, the day before thanksgiving.
I went alone as I thought there is no way I would get the results immediately, but I did. They called me into the office and said that it wasn’t cancer. After hearing that, I thought whatever it is, I can handle. It isn't cancer. They told me to walk across the parking lot and go to the ER and they were waiting for me. Go immediately they said. I said "why, its just a headache?" they THOUGHT that they saw a brain BLEED. So I went to the ER, they got me hooked up and got an MRI a couple hours later. THEN they finally realized that it was NOT cancer, NOT a bleed but a 2 inch blood clot on the right side of my brain. So I was admitted (and finally allowed to eat!) I was in CCU for 3 days until I let them know that I needed to be able to MOVE. They let me go home with Warfin and injections into my stomach twice a day for a week. Then my IRN got under control. At first, my pain was gone so this was all silly to me. No broccoli, no riding my bike outside, no softball, living in a bubble. The hematologist told me to walk around with a helmet on- that wasn’t happening. I had a 1/2 marathon in Vegas in December which the doctors told me no way, not until I got the pain under control and off vicodine.
So I did that. In January I asked the hematologist if I could run a half marathon in Camarillo. He said that he has been in the business 40 yeas and no one had ever asked him that before, so he didn’t know. I told him that I would let him know how it went. and it went fine. I did cry a bit because I was alive and I was out there. At my 3 month MRI, there was absolutely no change and now they were telling me (only because I asked) that I might go blind. The wait and see approach no longer was working for me. I had great doctors, don’t get me wrong, just they had not treated anyone my age before (37) or my activity level, or my health level! The hematologist said I was the healthiest patient he had ever seen- other than the literally 2 inch clot in my brain.
I then became the squeaky wheel, reaching out to everyone, including the live strong group to my neighbor. Finally a co worker in Texas, told her co worker who told this person who told that person who called the CA Medical board in Sacramento who called UCI. Now I have a new team of doctors, tons of testing, and tomorrow I go back hopefully for a new action plan. The testing concluded that I have a mutated gene (factor 2) from one parent + birth control pills and possible dehydration caused this to occur. My mother had her first stroke at 46 and my 41 year old brother had a stroke last year.
There is no reason to be in a bubble...in my opinion the best thing you can do for yourself is to get back to a routine and as normal life as you can. Sounds like you are doing just that.
I couldn’t agree with you more, but I have the fortunate problem of having loved ones who are very stressed out about me being back in the normal life and with reason. A crash on my bike could kill me or a hit with a softball but this might be the best that I get, and I need to live life. My clot is in the best possible spot- where the blood leaves my brain (venus sinus and jugluar and one other vein- it is so big it hits 3 veins! I don’t do anything half assed! LOL) so I wont stroke out, but there is a 5% chance a piece could end up in my heart, but I don’t worry about that.
My favorite piece of gear is my Ironman Jersey- simple blue with rhinestone wings on the back, and I wrote with black sharpie "Dads Wings". My father passed away of a massive heart attach 10 years ago but I feel him lifting me up in every race when I am tired and need a boost.
What do you ride these days?
I am very proud of the fact that I have completed 2 full distance triathlons on a $450 (+ few minor upgrades) Fuji Bike. Some say they could never do an Ironman because they cannot afford the expensive bike. I love my bike and we have completed 5+ centurys, a half ironman and 2 full ironmans.
What is your favorite food both before and after races? What is your guility pleasure?Pre-race food and post race food are GUILT FREE days! I like a cheese burger and fries the night before a race! After a race, I like chocolate milk, possibly an egg white omellet and a mimosa. If I am doing an Ironman- well I finish near cut off time so I get to eat whatever is still open around midnight! LOL
Where would like to travel someday in the future?With recent health events, I am proud to say that I have done a very good job my entire life of "live like you were dying". I have made a point to visit every state in the united states. I am now taking my time and revising them and doing some sort of race/ event in each state. I am really enjoying this. So far the only time I have ever podiumed is in Buffalo NY 5k. I have done a half marathon in Florida, Nevada, CA, Oregon. I have done a 1.2 mile swim race in beautiful Hawaii. so I am just working that goal, but taking my time with it.
What advice would you give to others going through the same experience of having a clotting incident?
Squeaky wheel gets the oil. I am not the most patient person, and for once, that is a good thing. I gave them 3 months of the 'wait and see' and then I decided that I was now going to drive this bus. At first, they wanted me to live in a bubble, but I listened to my body and I knew what I could do. I kept active as winning this battle is both physical and mental. I see so many people get depressed- and yes, I completely understand why, so I made a point to keep active and try to keep my life as normal as possible. Also, educate yourself. there was so much that I was NOT told. There can be too much information on the internet but I really didn’t find that with this. I researched and then I asked for a copy of my medical records and found out that I could go BLIND. No doctor informed me of this. I pressed it and got myself to neuro optometrist and hopefully am saving my eye sight.
Well Tammy, I wish nothing but the VERY BEST TO YOU as you continue to take charge on your treatment and return to your traning in order to accomplish that 3rd IRONMAN in 3 years. All of here will follow you closely as I hope that are willing to keep us posted on the progress of your journey.