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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September Athlete of the Month

This month's Athlete of the Month clearly illustrates the challenges that clot survivors have to face after dealing with a clot incident.

It is not easy to get back to the level of fitness and desire once experienced prior to a clotting incident. However, giving up is NOT AN OPTION and this month's featured athlete for sure is an example of the fighting spirit all of us can hope to have in order to overcome the challenges being thrown our way.

Please allow me to introduce you to LAUREN HAMETZ a clot survivor and whose story I want to bring to you today.

Lauren has been kind enough to share here story with NBCA and below you will find content from the story she shared on as well some additional thoughts she shared with me during a tweeter/email exchange a number of days ago...

"... I graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in May 2012 with a Masters degree in Secondary Education, although I am originally from Edinboro, PA. Recently, I stumbled upon Stop The Clot on Facebook, and immediately felt a strong connection to National Blood Clot Alliance. Why? In May 2011, I almost died at age 23 from bilateral pulmonary emboli (PEs). I felt agonizing pain in my stomach that traveled to my left shoulder. The pain became a lot sharper and I felt a ping of pain every time I took a breath. Whenever I tried to lie down, the pain became even worse. I noticed an extreme loss of energy during that time. I used to run for about an hour every day; instead, I felt short of breath just walking up a flight of stairs. Since I had previously had mononucleosis, I went to see the school doctors, who told me nothing was wrong. My energy level continued to decrease, and there was one time in particular when I went for a run, yet could only go about 100 feet before I couldn't move anymore. My legs cramped, so I had to walk, and I felt completely defeated.

I also traveled to Hilton Head Island in late April 2011 in a 10 hour straight car ride. I spent three days working at a golf tournament and drove another 10 hours straight back to school. I woke up one morning with tightness in my chest a couple of weeks later. I felt as if someone had knocked the wind out of me, and I also had pain under the ribs on my left side later in the day. I couldn't lie down on that side, because the pain was so intense. I had a list of symptoms that I should have realized were serious, but I viewed myself as healthy. To the best of my knowledge, I was a completely healthy 23-year-old who had always made healthy choices in my life. I never smoked, took illegal drugs, and played Division II Volleyball in college.

I woke up one morning with pain in my left elbow that same month. I assumed I hit it on something, although the pain persisted for a couple of days and I kept looking for bruises where I assumed I hit it. A bump formed near my elbow, and I joked to my friends that I had a worm in my arm. The worm turned-it was a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

I was getting ready to head home for a couple of days, which is a 4 hour drive. My symptoms continued to get worse, and I couldn't even lie flat without moaning in pain. A friend told me my symptoms were probably due to gas. My mother was very concerned, and I told her I just needed to get rid of the gas. After the long drive to Hilton Head, I told my roommate about my pain, who told me I looked sick. I spent the night searching Google to try to find out what my symptoms meant, since I could not sleep, and came to the conclusion it was my gallbladder. My friend accompanied me to the Emergency Room (ER), after I went for a run the next morning.

The ER doctors couldn't find what was wrong until they did a chest scan that showed PEs. My parents came to see me right away. When I heard I had blood clots in my lungs, could not help but wonder what was happening to me. Doctors questioned me about my life choices to try to determine how I ended up with blood clots in my lungs. I was in shock that this happened to me. How did it happen that I have blood clots?

I was using the hormonal ring for birth control. I did not get many answers to my questions while I was in the hospital. I was scared and confused. I was young, and there was no family history of blood clots. I was started on blood thinners and carried on with my life. It wasn't until August 2011 that I learned I had Factor V Leiden and Factor II blood clotting disorders. I will now take blood thinners for the rest of my life. I was advised to stop hormonal birth control immediately. The doctors weren’t sure if it was what caused the blood clots, but they saw it as a contributor to my risk for blood clots, given that I have two blood clotting disorders.
It is now almost a year since this whole nightmare happened. I’ve had one more blood clot since, again in my left elbow. This time I felt the pain and immediately knew what it was. I am now on injections of low molecular weight heparin, which my doctor says I will be on for the rest of my life. I am praying and waiting for the doctor to tell me when there is a new blood thinner that treats DVT and PE, so that I don't have to inject myself every single day and have bruises and bumps on my stomach.

I learn something new about my disorder every day and am still learning. The web site was eye opening for me. Merely seeing that March is an awareness month focused on blood clots makes me feel as if I can make a difference, since I want to help others learn more about risks, prevention, and treatment of blood clots. Reading the stories written by others who had blood clots stopped me in my tracks. The first story I read was about an active 23 year old girl, who died from a PE. This made me realize for the first time that I could have died last May. One more day, one more hour, and I may have died.

I think it is extremely important to improve awareness about DVT and PE, especially in women. I inherited the Factor V Leiden blood clotting factors from my dad, who at 58 has never experienced a known blood clot. I look back and realize that I was someone who ran for an hour every day and then all of a sudden could not walk up a flight of stairs without stopping. I did not persist and delayed seeking care, even when my symptoms were worsening. I will now pay more attention to symptoms in the future, as I did with my second DVT in my arm.

I learned to listen to my body. It tells me when things aren't right."

Also please read below for some additional answers Lauren provided for me as we got to talking over multiple digital media alternatives...

What do you do to stay active? favorite Sport? How many times do
you get to do this or any other activity per week? favorite sport is Volleyball, however, that is
a hard sport to pick up and play by yourself. I would love to find a
league or something to continue to play, but also being on blood
thinners volleyball is a sport I would need to be careful playing
competitively. Thus, to stay active I go to the gym 5 times a week or
go for a run.

What is your favorite food? What is your reward after a big

Ehhh...this is tough for me. I don't know if it's the lovenox or my
odd energy levels, but my appitite has been very off kilter. My
favorite food is ice cream! However, with my odd appitite these days
I really don't crave anything. It is strange. This is another reason
my doctor has leaned torwards giving my iron transfusions. I really do
not crave anything and have a very small appitite. Before my PEs I was
a very healthy eater..go to food always a salad creation with grilled
chicken and fruit and lovely healthy stuff to put on top. Nowadays it
is a strange day if I crave a salad. I hate this part because I can
never figure out what to eat. It's strange.

Do you have a favorite piece of gear?
Haha, I love this. Living in Hilton Head I got the oppurtunity to enjoy paddle
boarding. I so wish I could get a paddle board. From above how I
mentioned loving doing activities that keep you active...paddle
boarding is amazing. It's a fun activity and you work your butt off.

Lauren THANK YOU so much for your willingness to share you story with Clot Buster Nation. Your determination will continue to push you forward and hopefully improved on your fitness. For sure, someday I will find a way to get your some ice cream after a nice paddle board workout...

Get out there and NEVER GIVE UP!!!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Kathy Reed said...

Your website looks normal again.

Sara said...

I can relate to Ms. Lauren on so many different levels. If there is one thing I also learned from my clot and want to share with others it's, "I learned to listen to my body. It tells me when things aren't right." Thanks for sharing your story, Lauren!

Tara said...

Thanks for sharing your story Lauren. I was in tears. I have an very similar story and one thing that always crosses my mind is "I could have died." Listening to your body is something to become very aware of when dealing with the silence of blood clotting disordres. Your story is inspiring and I wish you all the best.

My 95th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 95th Triathlon Finish !!!