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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December Athlete of the Month

This is certainly the season of giving.

I am VERY LUCKY to have come across this very special person.

I am VERY LUCKY and now you are lucky as well because this clot survivor is about to unleash a whole lot of giving as she gets to share her very unique story with all of us...

Catch the inspiration and don't let go of it.

But I will move aside and let you read and enjoy this story...

" Hi, my name is Alisa Dunlap and I am honored to be the ClotBuster Athlete for December 2013.  I’ve been an endurance athlete since 2007, the year I ran my first half marathon, and an athlete my whole life.  I grew up in the pool and played water polo in high school and part of college.  I took up recreational running at the end of high school and never stopped!  I enjoy challenging myself and pushing to my limits.  In 2009, I started triathlons and just a few short weeks ago completed my first 140.6 distance in Arizona. 

 


I am happy to report that I am thriving post-DVT!  While I still have to be careful, I am not on blood thinners any longer.  I am however still sportin’ awesome compression gear, pretty much all the time.  I do notice my right leg if I have to do excessive standing or sitting.  I am mindful to keep my leg elevated when I can and to take short walks throughout the day.  I still get nervous about traveling but have made the cross country trek once and have traveled in a car on multiple trips.  My travel tips are: compression and hydration.  If you’re hydrated it will force you to get up and walk about an airplane for the lavatories or to stop at rest stops if traveling my car.  If you’re reading this and you were recently diagnosed, it does get easier and you’ll learn what you need to do to thrive.

 
I found the ClotBuster blog and community in June 2013, right after my own DVT diagnosis.  Knowing that there were other endurance athletes with clots thriving in their sports really helped me through my own recovery.  I had always thought of blood clots as something that ailed only the elderly or those that hadn’t taken good care of themselves---not endurance athletes.  Come to find out, blood clots are something all endurance athletes should be mindful about.  Educate yourself my friends and I hope that you never have to go through what I went through.

To learn more about me and my journey visit my blog: www.ambitiousaspirations.blogspot.com

The ClotBuster himself asked me to share a little bit about my clotting episode, so, here it goes.

On May 4th, 2.5 miles into a long run, I stepped on a lip in the road, fell and broke my 5th metatarsal on my right foot.  My husband actually had to carry me about 2 miles back to the car as I couldn’t put any weight on my foot.  About a week later, we took a trip down to California to visit our family, little did I know that traveling without a lot of movement with a broken foot, while on birth control may not be the best idea. 

Arriving in California, I certainly felt like there was something off about my leg but I thought maybe I had pulled some tendons when I broke my foot and that the pain was just now showing up.  When I got back to Portland, I contacted my doctor and while he said it was possible that I had a clot it was unlikely.  So, I continued to rehab my foot. 

I was still on crutches and while the pain in my foot was getting better the pain in my leg was getting worse. In fact, my foot was well enough to go crutchless 4 weeks after my break.  However, three days after ditching my crutches I woke up to throbbing pain in my calf and behind my knee.  While I could bear weight on my foot I couldn’t on my leg, I ended up having to crawl to the bathroom that night and on that long crawl to the bathroom I decided first thing in the morning I would call my doctor.  I got in right away and he did a rudimentary scan on my leg with a mobile ultrasound.  You know it’s probably not a good sign when he calls in three other doctors to take a look.  After three different docs reviewed the screen they sent me straight to the hospital for a full ultrasound.  And on that day, June 7th (5 weeks after breaking my foot), I was diagnosed with multiple blood clots (one in every vein in my right leg: femoral, popliteal, posterior and anterior tibial, and the peroneal.)  As I did more and more research on clots, I got more and more scared.

I was immediately put on blood thinners.  For 12 days I had to self administer (well, Justin did the first couple), lovenox injections.  After 12 days, I switched to oral warafin, the generic for coumadin.  Being an endurance athlete training for their first 140.6 race I had all kinds of questions for my doc.  She was great, so patient with me, answering everything I wanted (NEEDED) to know.  How long would I have to be on thinners?  Did I have to stop eating my coveted kale salads and smoothies?  How long would the pain last? (that was probably my first question) How long would I be out of training commission? (that was probably my second question as I had already spent 4 weeks on crutches really only able to do some core work, pulling in the pool and seated arm weights)  Were the clots going to limit my ability to train once the pain went away? Was the ironman out of the question?  Could I cycle outside?  What was my bleeding risk?  The questions went on and on and on.  The most scary of course, how serious is this and is there a possibility of an embolism and could that lead to death?  The answer to that last one is what kept me up at night.  It was serious and yes there is always a possibility of embolism which could in fact result in death----ahhhhhhh.  However, my doctor reassured me that I was doing everything right and that my risk, while certainly higher than the average person, was in check, especially now that I was on thinners.

I stayed on blood thinners for a little over 5 months.  In that time, I was outta commission from training for about 2 months.  During my 4 weeks on crutches, I really only pulled in the pool and did arm weights in my living room.  When I was able to ditch the crutches I started taking short walks around my neighborhood and eventually got on my bike trainer for 30 minutes at a time.  9 weeks after breaking my foot and 5 weeks after my DVT diagnosis, I went from my first test “run.”  I ran for maybe 5-10 minutes, in spurts of 30 seconds at a time.  I slowly worked my way back to sport.  I cycled outside for the first time about 6 weeks after my DVT diagnosis and ended up completing two century rides while on thinners.  I consulted with my medical team (both my doctor and my warafin nurse) every time I tried something new.  They encouraged me to keep at it but to stay safe in the process---I ALWAYS wore my helmet, I tried to cycle on roads less traveled by cars, I cycled with friends when I could, I always took my cell phone and I bought myself a new RoadID with my diagnosis and medicine clearly listed on the bracelet.



I took good care of myself and on November 17, 2013, not only did I finish my first 140.6 I did well, exceeding the time goal I had set for myself.  If you’re reading this after being recently diagnosed you CAN get back to your sport and succeed!  My advice to those reading with recent diagnosis: listen to your body-you know yourself  best, use your medical professionals as a resource—stay off of Dr. Google!, slowly ease back into your sport, set ambitious but realistic goals for yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help and probably most important, stay positive!  While clots are something I will always have to be aware of they aren’t going to hold me back from dreaming big and pursuing my goals."
 
What do you think?
 
These stories never stop inspiring me nor amaze.  How was she able to do an IM? I can't even get through a half without grimacing and wondering how on earth would I double what I just did...
 
Alisa's dedication to not let blood clots stop her or slow her down earns all of my admiration.
 
Watch out for this lady on a course near you... as she will be blowing past all of us if we don't shape up.  The only thing missing is her very own set of polka-dots to allow the STOPTHECLOT message to spread even farther.
 
Here is wishing you and all those with you THE VERY BEST HOLIDAY SEASON.  May the new year bring you all the happiness, joy, good health and fortune you can handle!
 
Thanks for reading,
 
The Clot Buster

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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