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Sunday, December 13, 2015

December Athlete of the Month

I have to be honest...

The last several weeks have been a blur...

We are on "alert" as we anticipate the arrival of our little one #3...

So far we had various trips to Labor & Delivery and Thankfully #3 continues to stay put and EVERY DAY COUNTS for this little one to be in the oven as we draw closer to our due date of January 22nd.  Crossing our fingers here to go as long as we can...

All that being said this post is long over due as this blood clot survivor's personal account about persistence, dedication, discipline, and desire to overcome the challenges of blood clots is well worth the read.

Blood Clot Survivors featured on this blog have many diverse backgrounds... SAM CARELTON takes us to the world of cycling but a new type of cycling as what he likes to do is what I would call Ultra-cycling where speed is not the ultimate goal but instead covering distances that are truly admirable.

Sam's perspective is one that I wanted to share because it is truly an inspiration as his dedication, discipline, and desire to overcome is an example that all of us can follow to get through our many challenges.

THANK YOU Sam for sharing your thoughts! No question that some of your points will resonate with many survivors out there!


1)   What is your sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
My sport of choice cycling. I love what Robin Williams said one time - ‘It's the closest we can get to flying.' I find it amazingly peaceful to be out in nature, in the elements, wind blowing in my face, to be able to see so much in the least amount of time. Walking is too slow, motorized vehicles too fast - cycling is a way to experience the world at the perfect pace.

2)  How did you get started in that sport?

Necessity. I didn’t have a car as a teenager, and started cycling everywhere. I developed a passion for biking. I got away from cycling as I got older, and two years ago I said to my friend Michelle, ‘I’d like to get back into cycling, but I’m not strong enough.' She said - ‘That’s silly, get your bike tuned up and get back on it!' I did, and ever since you haven’t been able to get me off a bike. It’s where I’m meant to be.

3)  What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?

The latest milestone I’ve achieved is the ACP Super Randonneur (SR).  That is complete a series of ACP-sanctioned brevets of 200, 300, 400, and 600km during a single season.  Brevet is French and in randonneuring means a certified bike ride. I’ve completed the Super Randonneur between February and June 2015. 

I am working on achieving the P12. The P12 is riding one populaire brevet - that’s between 100K and 199K - per month for 12 consecutive months. As of July I have got seven months down, and only five to go so I’m confident of success. The challenge will be November and December: dealing with cold and wet weather, the kicker being the wet. I love the cold!  I also face some serious scheduling issues in our lives; there is a flood of birthdays weaved in with the holidays. 

4)  Tell about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?

It started last September. I noticed that my right ankle and lower calf felt like it had a charley horse - stiff and tight. I kept stretching it to no avail, it was really annoying. After 4 or 5 days, it seemed to go away. Little did I know at the time, but that was the onset of the blood clot.

In the middle of October, on a Saturday, my whole right calf was really sore. We took a 4-hour road trip (one way) over the weekend, and when I got home I could barely walk, and the pain was all the way up to my mid-thigh. On Monday, the doctor suspected a blood clot, and on Tuesday it was confirmed with an ultrasound. 

Later that week, I discovered a procedure called Catheter Directed Thrombolysis, where you run a catheter through the blood clot and pump strong blood thinners into the clot to dissolve it. The catch is, it has to take place in the first 2 weeks. It was unsuccessful because the clot had originally set in at the end of September. I was disappointed - I had read that this procedure dramatically reduced the long-term risk of chronic leg pain. But I plan to stay very active, and hopefully it won’t become an issue. I am on blood thinners now - Xarelto. 

5)  When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?

I was out of commission for about a month - by mid-November, I was back on my bike. It was refreshing and freeing. It was simply wonderful being back out there in the late fall.  I much prefer cool weather over the hot muggy August weather we have now.

6)  What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? 

I love gear - but there’s no one favorite piece. As I think about it, my favorite must be my shorts and my base layer: high quality cycling shorts really make all the difference after long hours in the saddle!  The base layer, which I wear in all weather, especially when it is really hot, goes a LONG, LONG way to helping me stay cool.  In hot, sunny weather I wear a base layer with long sleeves that are white, it keeps the sun off the skin, which is simply huge.


7)  How much are you getting out doing your sport?  
At least once a week. I’m out typically on Saturdays, where I try to ride 30-miles plus. Last Saturday, I did a Populaire that was 90 miles; the week before, I did a brevet that was 195.

8)   What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  

While cycling the long distances, there is nothing like a Hammer Nutrition bar every time I feel my belly complain about being empty.  They are easy to consume, full of energy, are really healthy and taste good!  When I’m done with a brevet, I have to have a burrito Chipotle or Qdoba. I prefer Qodba, but they are a lot harder to find then Chipotle, which I also love.

9)  If you could go someplace to visit and explore, where would you like to go?

I love to explore new places.  Which I do often, for example my solo ride Saturday from Loveland, Ohio out to Adams County.  What I am discovering is that it isn’t so much the places I go, but the company I keep in the journey.

10)  What would like to say to someone who is going through a clotting episode, perhaps very similar to yours?  

I remember - it was a big turning point for me - I was lying in bed on Wednesday following the Tuesday ultrasound that confirmed the DVT.  The pain was almost unbearable, and I thought: ‘There must be more I can do than wait for blood thinners to kick in.' That’s when I started researching online, and I found the Catheter Directed Thrombolysis procedure. It wasn’t successful for me, but it could have been if it had been performed in time - and it could be for others in this situation.

So my advice is, don’t settle for the answer that the only treatment is blood thinners.  Keep digging and looking, and push through the pain. I wear my compression sock with pride. When people ask me about it, it gives me a chance to share. Thanks to this web site, I have come to learn of both the commonality and danger of blood clots. If I had known what I know now, I would have addressed it earlier and gotten a much better outcome. You now have information that can be very valuable to others.

11) Tell about your concerns and what you look out for as you return to your sport.
My only concern right now is being on blood thinners. My perspective while cycling is that falling equals death - I’ve heard horror stories - so I don’t fall. But my doctors say I shouldn’t have to be on blood thinners for the rest of my life. I’m looking forward to having the hematologist free me of them in the next few months.

Here is hoping that some day I am lucky enough to get together with Sam and ride some massive distances while we enjoy the world around us.  I wanted to be there to see him accomplish the last requirement of his P12 level but given that we continue on high baby #3 alert I was not able to go.  But next year I am hoping to get go and get the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots out in the rode with him!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Sunday, November 01, 2015

November Athletes of the Month

BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING!
 
BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN OVERCOME!
 
BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS ARE DEDICATED!
 
BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS ARE INSPIRING!

From all walks of life...

From all over the United States...

Blood Clot Survivors with Friends and Family are going to New York City to get Team #StopTheClot across 26.2Miles and CELEBRATE THAT BLOOD CLOT SURVIORS CAN DO IT!

I've been fortunate to have featured the Blood Clot Survivors racing on Sunday and below you can re-read their stories and personal experiences that you will find inspiring. 

It seems fair to me that November should be dedicated to ALL OF THEM and their remarkable efforts not only inspiring but also spreading the word about blood clots & blood clotting disorders and finally fundraising for the good of the cause.

Here is hoping that everyone of our runners enjoy every step of the New York City Marathon... There is no race like it in the world!

And most importantly I hope that they CAN ENJOY THE SWEET PAIN OF THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENT!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thoughts on my Chicago Marathon

Marathons hurt and are hard!
 
But also make you feel proud of having accomplished something remarkable.
 
Although deep down I am disappointed of not being able to record a personal best at this distance after the extensive training I did… I am still over the moon that I was able to finish.
 
I am very fortunate to have had the chance to run another “major” marathon.  The tour of the city was enjoyable even if my stomach issues at Mile 20 slowed me down.
 
Also, it was an honor to attempt to keep up with the one and only Clot Buster INSPIRATION MAN Eric O’Connor… We did not get to start together but I was able to catch up with the 3:10 pace group and stay with him until about Mile 12 when I finally lost him as I needed to dial things back if I had any hope to survive.
 
And that brings me to my next question… WHY DO I ALWAYS GO OUT SO FAST?!?!?
 
I can’t pace properly to save my life.
 
Being competitive I was chasing butterflies attempting to keep up with a pace that was way out of my league.  Every time I do this.  EVERY TIME!
 
Seems to me that I need a serious kick in the pants to be realistic as to what I can achieve.  I missed an opportunity to improve my best performance and until the next marathon (whenever that it is) I have to bow down to the lady in our house as the fastest marathoner around… She gets the title because she is and always will be the BEST RUNNER under our roof!
 
At any rate, I will never forget this experience even with some of the issues I had.
 
 
Most importantly the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots got called out by spectators all throughout the 26.2 Miles.  It was music to my ears to hear people reading off my shirt… I just hope that at least one person out there remember STOPTHECLOT.org and learns a thing or two about blood clots and blood clotting disorders.
 
It is AMAZING to see Blood Clot Survivors everywhere overcoming the challenges of their clotting incident and achieving their goals.  From the Chicago Marathon, to IRONMAN Races, to the Columbus Marathon, to the Marine Corps Marathon, to the New York City Marathon the polka-dots are represented as survivors are getting celebrated and are inspiring others to overcome!
 
Thanks for reading,
 
The Clot Buster
 
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
 
 
 

Saturday, October 03, 2015

October Athlete of the Month

2015 has been an impressive year as it relates to getting the chance to meet many new Blood Clot Survivors...

But for October's Edition of this post I have to CELEBRATE a Blood Clot Survivor that is TRULY an INSPIRATION...

This Blood Clot Survivor is tireless...

This Blood Clot Survivor simply cannot stop...

This Blood Clot Survivor CANNOT be stopped...

Back in October of 2012 I had the honor to feature this individual and ever since I've been just trying to just keep up with him.

Please see the link below to re-visit the story I posted about this amazing individual...


ERIC O'CONNOR Please never stop doing what you are doing...!

Honestly I have a hard time keeping track of what this guy has accomplished this year.




From running 24 STRAIGHT HOURS on a Treadmill to create awareness about STOP THE CLOT...

To running ALL OVER THE COLORADO ROCKIES...



To running in the upcoming CHICAGO MARATHON and I will be there to see him simply torch that course... There will be some very fast STOP THE CLOT polka-dots running in Chicago and those will be Eric's!

It has been a pleasure to be able to follow this amazing individual and I can't wait to see what is next for him down the road.  If I am lucky enough I hope to tag along and have a pair of STOP THE CLOT polka-dots taking on the next challenge to spread the word and create awareness.

Thank You for Reading!

The Clot Buster

Saturday, September 05, 2015

September Athlete of the Month

Sorry...

It has been a while since I found my way to this space...

I sure have been busy on twitter (@CLOTBUSTER) since 140 characters are so much quicker and these days that is all I have time for...

Certainly marathon training has wedged itself within my daily routine and as I get through each prescribed workout the hope and anticipation of throwing down with 26.2 Miles grows bigger as I am aiming for improvements from my previous personal best.  Of course I am racing the 2015 CHICAGO MARATHON in the CLOT BUSTER #STOPTHECLOT polka-dots to keep up the effort of raising awareness against blood clots and blood clotting disorders as well celebrating all blood clot survivors out there looking to overcome the challenges of blood clots!

Keep up with my latest posts through twitter @CLOTBUSTER...

Speaking of marathon training recently I got introduced to one of those AMAZING Blood Clot Survivors who has decided to have his own epic battle with 26.2 Miles the weekend after the Chicago Marathon at the Columbus Marathon.

Mr. TONY VILLANUEVA will be racing the Columbus Marathon in October as part of the Team CLOT BUSTERS RACING TO STOP THE CLOT!  He even has his very own set of polka-dots ready to inspire you...

Please read below Tony's story that he so graciously shared with us...

" My Story

March 2013, my sister was diagnosed with multiple blood clot disorders which led to my father being tested and finding out that he had multiple blood clot disorders. My sister became adamant that the rest of the family be checked since it was hereditary. My wife insisted that I be checked and when I refused, she sent my two oldest daughters. Well at the age of 1 and 3, they were diagnosed with Factor Five, Prothrombin Gene Mutations and MTHFR. I then went to my doctor and told him about the blood clotting disorders and he stated that since my father had it, my sister had it and my daughters have it, well you definitely got it. My doctor immediately wanted to put me on blood thinners due to the fact that with my job in Law Enforcement I am spending a minimum of 8 hours sitting in a car or at a desk.  Of course I refused to take any type of medication and my doctor told me that I better be careful and be sure to walk around every hour or so to be sure to get some blood flow.
 
February 3rd 2015, I was at work and was experiencing a “Charlie horse” in my right calf most of the day while at work. I didn’t think much about it at the time but when I was driving home, the pain was uncomfortable and then intensified as I continued to drive. All of a sudden I started to experience chest pain and then numbness in my upper right arm. I then realized that I was dazed and confused and my vision was becoming blurry like that moment right before you pass out. I was driving on a freeway at 65-70 miles per hour and I felt like I was going to pass out. I got off at the exit that I nearly passed and pulled my car over once I got to a safe spot. I realized that I was having extreme chest pain and shortness of breath. I calmed my breathing down because I knew I had to call for help. I remembered that there was a Fire Station about a mile or two down the road and I felt like I could make it there. By the time I got to the Fire Station, my vision and my breathing were back to normal so I decided to drive the five minutes back home.  I made it home and my wife took me straight to the hospital.


The hospital found that my INR levels were low and that I could have had a blood clot. The ultrasound and CAT scan came back negative. I told the doctors about the blood clotting disorders and they said that there was a possibility that I had a blood clot that passed or broken up which caused my symptoms. I was sent home after a shot of blood thinners and was told to see a specialist. Before I could see a Hematologist, I was taken back to the emergency room for the same symptoms within a week where they found a blood clot in my left leg.  Again my INR levels were low and I was given blood thinners and released. I finally got to see my Hematologist and found that I have three Blood Clotting Disorders. After some time off from work, a few more visits to the emergency room, hematologist, and even Cellulitis, I was finally allowed to run again and slowly workout.

My Mission
My mission is simple. I want to do what I can to provide monetary donations to National Blood Clot Alliance. The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, voluntary health organization dedicated to advancing the prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and clot-provoked stroke.

NBCA works on behalf of people who may be susceptible to blood clots, including, but not limited to, people with clotting disorders, atrial fibrillation, cancer, traumatic injury, and risks related to surgery, lengthy immobility, child birth and birth control. My future, my family and the future of my 3 daughters rely on this research for a better way of living with Blood Clotting disorders. It is a privilege to run for Team Stop the Clot and I plan on making the best of it and impacting the lives of others during my experience.

“Make each day your masterpiece.” -Coach John Wooden"
 
There is no question in mind that Mr. Villanueva will accomplish his mission of conquering the 26.2 Miles that are awaiting him in October.

If you have it in you and would be interested in donating for Mr. Villanueva's fundraising please take a look at the link below...
 
Here is wishing Mr. Villanueva all the success possible on all of his training and I can't wait to cheer him on while racing in Columbus!
 
Never Stop Tony!
 
You are an inspiration to many!
 
Keep it up!.
 
All the Best.
 
The Clot Buster

Monday, August 10, 2015

August Athlete of the Month

As we enter the month of August we are one month closer to the 2015 running of the New York City Marathon.

As such I have one more opportunity to feature another CLOT BUSTER SURVIVOR who is currently training and preparing for that magnificent race.  She will be a part of Team CLOT BUSTERS Running to STOP THE CLOT!

Please allow me introduce to you SAMANTHA LEE and her personal account below.

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
Running was always my choice of sports between running for my parish, Blessed Trinity, to running on the varsity soccer field for Stella Maris High School. I enjoy running because it an exciting activity between running to win or simply changing the speed of your running.

How did you get started in that sport? 
My parents placed my brothers and I in every sport possible at a young age. We ran track, played basketball, swam for the swim team, and ran on the soccer fields. We were always running it seemed. I was very blessed to have parents who cared to teach us and have us involved in both sports and education.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve? (Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did) 
Over the last few months, my greatest milestones were running two half marathons. One half marathon was in central park, and the other one was in Connecticut. It was exciting to complete both half marathons.

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
Last summer, I was on vacation with my mom and Great Aunt Muriel in the Czech Republic. I began experiencing breathing difficulty in the days leading up to my hospitalization. The day before we were supposed to leave the Czech Republic, my prescribed inhaler broke. My mom and I went to a pharmacy. The pharmacist told me I would need a prescription. He said there was a lung specialist in the next building. The lung specialist took my vitals and took some blood work. An hour later, the blood work came back. The lung specialist told me that she was sending me for another test, the very test that saved my life. The lung specialist helped save my life. The doctors found a pulmonary embolism bilaterally. The doctors put me in intensive care and began treatment. I was diagnosed with DVT a few days later. I was transferred to another hospital for another procedure to treat the DVT. I was hospitalized for seventeen days. Through the love and support of my mom and Great Aunt Muriel, I never gave up hope.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?   
It took me a few months to regain my strength. I begin working out again a little bit at a time. I was nervous the first time working out. The question was “What would I be able to do?”  Would I be able to challenge myself and work out the same way as before? Only time would tell, what would happen next?

What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster's Running Polka-Dot Technical Shirt...) 
My sneakers are awesome. I think the pair I am wearing now is called brooks.

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
I run at least 5-6 days a week. It feels odd if I don’t run that day. I love running, can’t you tell!! I take at least 1-2 days a week to replenish my strength and relax my muscles.

What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito.
Peanut butter and an apple is my general go to food after a workout. It’s healthy and delicious. .

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
I would like to go some place with beautiful scenery and were I could run for miles on end, such as, Ireland. I have never been there but I hear it’s beautiful

What would like to say to someone who is going through a clotting episode, perhaps very similar to yours?  How can people return to do what they enjoy? Tells about your concerns and what you look out after as you got back.
If you are going through this right now, you can overcome. Please don’t give up hope. Honestly, Its rough and my story began with a doctor saying you might not survive tonight, and even with these treatments you can have complications. Guess what? I prayed and thought of my nephew back in New York. I had motivation and never loss sight of hope. Hope Prayers and Family got me through this. You can survive too!! I will not be an easy road to recovery. It’s difficult to go back to what you enjoy. But with time heals all things no matter how big or little it may be.  You must have patience even though life will be different for you. I was concerned with how my life would be, the quality of life; I survived and became a marathon runner. Keep the hope alive!!!
Indeed Samantha KEEP THE HOPE ALIVE!

Blood Clot Survivors can do Amazing Things! You are one of those overcoming the challenges and going on to be a marathoner in November.  I can't wait to see pictures of you finishing the race and show those blood clots that they cannot keep you down.

You are an inspiration not only for me but for many other.

Keep hope alive and keep on running until you can't anymore...!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster


Saturday, August 08, 2015

CLOT BUSTER polka-dots in ACTION some more photos...

Check out some AWESOME photos of CLOT BUSTER polka-dots in Action...

Always exciting to receive pictures because we are spreading the word to all who notices them!

Send them on and wear your polka-dots whenever possible!

 


Thursday, July 16, 2015

July Athlete of the Month

Once again in 2015 the STOP THE CLOT community is fortunate to get the chance to participate in the NYC Marathon as a benefiting charity and as such for the third year running we have a team of Blood Clot Survivors, Family Members, and Friends running to celebrate survival and also spread the word.

Just like I've done in years past I feel that it is my obligation and pleasure to introduce to you some of these runners willing to stare 26.2 Miles in the eye and take it down all while wearing the #StopTheClot polka-dots so that they can spread awareness and hope to all those who need it.

I am very fortunate to have the pleasure to introduce to you one of these runners and his story of survival which he has been willing to share with all of us so that we can definitely be inspired to beat all of the odds stacked against us.

Ladies and Gentlemen >>> Mr. Phil Kean

"When I was about to turn 40 I decided to run a marathon. A friend had started running marathons when she turned 50 and I figured if she could do it I could too. My first marathon, I did everything wrong and still finished. I decided to do another and joined a local running group. This was the beginning of my running addiction. My group would run in different states and I had a blast and developed some great friendships. After I had run in a marathon in 10 states I realized that maybe I could run one on all 50 states. I recently ran my 40th marathon and I have 14 states left to accomplish this goal. I would be a little closer to my goal, but in April of 2013 I developed a Charlie horse, or so I thought, that lasted for several weeks. I continued to train in spite of the discomfort. I came home from work one day and felt very uncomfortable and had a terrible pain in my chest. I went to the ER thinking it was a heart attack. After 6 hours of tests that showed no heart problems, the doctor was going to send me home when he decided to run a cat scan and discovered the clots in my lungs. I was in the hospital for a week and sent home learning to give myself injections twice a day with clot busting drugs. Recovery was slow and I went on a blood thinner for seven months and started training for a marathon. I ran Mississippi the following January and North Carolina in April.

In September I was in South Dakota to run a marathon and had a strange, but familiar, pain in my leg so decided to go to the ER and make sure I had not developed another clot. They found nothing and the next morning I ran the marathon. I flew back to Florida and ended up in the ER with my second Pulmonary Embolism. Apparently they had missed the clot. I was in the hospital for several days and my doctor has me on blood thinners permanently. I was tested for everything and they found nothing to explain why I develop clots. My doctor said medicine doesn't know everything.
Recovery was slow again, but I continued to run and early this year I ran a marathon in Arkansas, Kentucky and Idaho. I ran in my polka dot shirt during the last two marathons and talked with other runners about my story.

On November 1st, I am running the NYC marathon to raise money and awareness for team stop the clot. I am planning to put the names as a tribute to those who have shared their clot stories of loved one who didn't survive. They are all tragic and most were preventable. Knowledge is the key.

The best thing about having the two PE's and surviving is that life is much more balanced. I don't worry about the things I can't change. I surround myself with awesome people. I started traveling to places on my bucket list. And Last year I bought a tiny apartment in NYC and I run in Central Park whenever I can."

Please take some time and make your way to Phil's Fundraising page... he is doing an INCREDIBLE job with several months to go before the race so his fundraising totals will continue to climb... Can't to see how well he does... here the link for your reference and use...
https://www.crowdrise.com/StopTheClot2015NYCMarathon/fundraiser/philipkean
Here is hoping that Phil can in fact complete his goal of running a marathon in all 50 states... SIMPLY REMARKABLE and INSPIRING!!!

Don't stop now Phil. 

The entire blood clotting survivor community is cheering you on!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Monday, July 13, 2015

CLOT SURVIVOR is once again WIMBELDON WOMEN's TENNIS CHAMPION

Blood Clot Survivors CAN DO ANYTHING!

Even at the highest levels of Women's Tennis a Blood Clot Survivor continues to dominate and could in fact make history...

CONGRATULATIONS SERENA WILLIAMS!

She is two slam overall wins away from making history.

It is certainly inspiring to see her continue to play and compete when we all know, within our community, that the outcome of going down with PE's could have been very different.

As I posted back in March of 2011 (http://clot-buster-triathlete.blogspot.com/2011/03/march-athlete-of-month.html) it is my hope that someday we will see Serena compete in some sort of red polka-dot gear to not only celebrate her survival but also the many thousands of others out there going through the very same thing she went through in 2011.

Blood Clot Survivors CAN IN FACT DO ANYTHING!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, June 05, 2015

June Athlete of the Month

Support Groups are a very powerful tool to help anyone overcome the challenges of clotting incidents.

I can't get enough of the interaction clot survivors have with one another as their attempt to navigate the obstacles they share.

Blood Clot Survivor groups in Facebook or through STOPTHECLOT.org can provide incredible insight that is capable of pulling individuals out of deep-dark holes of fear and intimidation that a blood clot diagnosis can bring.

Many of the Athletes I have had the honor of featuring on this blog come from those existing support groups and June's Athlete of the Month is another individual with a remarkable story that is worth sharing.  Many of us can learn something from the words written below as they are closely associated to a personal experience which does not have a quantifiable value as it relates to the wisdom it brings.

Please allow me to introduce to you CHUCK BANKS who is the JUNE ATHLETE OF THE MONTH and who is presently battling the rigors of training for his last marathon which will be his 30th... simply put a fantastic nice round number in which to stop running the long distances and perhaps find something else to keep him fit...

Please read on and enjoy!

1)   What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
Running. Not lifting. Not stretching. Not cross training. No sports that require left or right or sudden start and stop movements. Just straight ahead steadily until done. Always outdoors - treadmills are medieval devices of last resort. And glad the question was sport of choice and not one I like to do. I hate running but I love being a runner and grateful for all it does for me physically and mentally. That said whether a run is five, fifteen or fifty miles I have never ever wished it was longer. I love being done and I love the day in between runs when I get to rest on my laurels (and keister).

2)  How did you get started in that sport?
Broke a bone in my foot playing basketball in the Army while living in Germany in 1981. Took up running to stay in shape. Read the Jim Fixx books, enjoyed running through vineyards and here I am!

3)  What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did)
Just finished running 15 miles in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon this fall - my seventh MCM and 30th ( and final) marathon. My career highlight - completing the JFK 50 miler two years ago and hugging my wife at the finish. Given my medical mess over the past year every run is a step forward in the road to recovery.

4)  Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
Despite successful surgery for tongue cancer last summer, hereditary factors and poor nursing care landed me back in the emergency room and a better hospital five days after discharge. Lungs to legs "severe" clotting. Although in pain from the throat surgery I was actually relieved to have excellent nursing care and encouraging, supportive treatment in the hospital.  My INR stabilized in four days and while the staff apologized for wanting to keep me a fifth day to make sure, I had no problem with it. Amazing what good medical professionals can do for your soul. Eleven months later I'm still on Coumoudin (3mg) and my hematologist wants to take me off to see what happens, without an updated ultrasound. I refused. Looking for a new doctor now.

5)  When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time? 
After six weeks on Coumoudin I was given the green light to resume running, provided I eased into it. I started by walking a mile, then two. Suited up in my running clothes and GPS watch and moved out. Honestly, I used to secretly ridicule fit looking people who were walking when they should have been running. I don't do that anymore. First, who knows their story, and why they're walking? Maybe they, too, are recovering from an illness I can't see. Second,  just getting outdoors and soaking up the sights and sounds of the footpaths through my neighborhood boosted my mood tremendously. Before that I sat on my deck for hours wallowing in the uncertainty of my failing body. Walking made me feel alive, and I realized if I never ran again but could walk for an hour, I would be okay. Last, I realized that I am such a slow runner, my brisk walking pace wasn't all that slower than running, and my heart rate monitor told me I was working almost as hard! Now that I'm running again I always wave to the walkers I meet, not just the runners. I wished they would wave back more. I really sincerely appreciate their effort.

6)  What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster's Running Polka-Dot Technical Shirt...)
(Editor's Note = Perhaps getting his very own CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dot shirt shortly in the mail may swing his decision on question #6.  Surely he is waiting to receive it to make sure it make me him look fast...)

7)  How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week)
I'm running three times a week, preparing for a marathon much as I did before the clots. On bad days my thigh and calf hurt from the clots. Stockings help a great deal. Not sure what I will do in the heat. Calf sleeves worked for my 15 miler last weekend.

8)   What is your favorite food?
There is no more perfect pre-race food that the unfairly criticized Pop Tart.  Has all the nutrients of a Cliff Bar and doesn't taste like mulch.

9)  If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
Antarctica. With my daughter. She wants to see all seven continents and will reach six with her Australia trip this summer. Had the doctors given me really bad news on the tongue cancer, I would have booked us immediately. Tied really with New Orleans with my adult sons. Have to admit the music and the booze with my boys would be sweet.

10)  What would like to say to someone who is going through a clotting episode, perhaps very similar to yours?  How can people return to do what they enjoy? Tells about your concerns and what you look out after as you got back.
Reading others' stories tells me we all came from different places with our fitness and hobbies before our illnesses, and we have different experiences and severity of misery. That said, we all want relief from the physical pain and uncertainty, and hope that we will return to what we once were. We don't want to be scared and we want clarity on what is happening to us and what we can do about it. I haven't cracked the code by any means but I do think there's value in revisiting what our priorities are and what "healthy" means.  My clots were put into perspective by my cancer. I worried so much about dying from cancer my clots were a serious nuisance  and setback, but not fatal. That said, on bad running days I am convinced clots are breaking loose and racing north to kill me. I can be melodramatic.  My advice is simple. Find medical professionals you trust and do what they tell you. Say yes when friends and family offer to help. Pursue every avenue to ease your mind - prayer, meditation, comedy, song, writing, television, volunteer. Endless pondering on the misery and unfairness of it all will leave you feeling, well, miserable and like a victim.  Limit your internet research on the illness or you will become a hypochondriac like me. Soak up all the blessings around you and take absolutely nothing for granted. Our lives have changed but they are not over.  Move forward as best you can and appreciate progress, no matter how small.  And remember that we are now extended family and hopes and fears no one else may understand will be understood here.

Well said Chuck!

I very much love the advise you are providing on Question #10. 

I am looking forward to see ample coverage of you throwing down with the 26.2 Miles on your final marathon.  Your extended CLOT BUSTER family will be rooting for you. 

Never stop doing whatever is that you love doing despite the challenges ahead of you!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster 

Friday, May 22, 2015

May Athlete of the Month

If you know me at you would know that I am a sports fan. 

If there is a good sporting event on I am willing to watch. Of course I have my preferences but sport is sport and I enjoy them all.

I suppose I got this love of sports from my mother and it become increasingly evident on the last couple of weeks while my mother and father came over to visit us. You see my mother watched every available sporting event on TV.  From professional tennis to hockey playoffs to NBA playoffs. 

Although I enjoy sports I cannot keep up with her intensity.

During her visit I was re-introduced to the NBA playoffs and we even got into arguments as to who would win the series between Cleveland and Chicago.

Making this connection to the NBA again reminded me of recent news regarding of an all star player cutting his season short because of blood clots in his lung.

If you are familiar with the MIAMI HEAT then you know about CHRIS BOSH and he too now, despite of all of his basketball success, is a BLOOD CLOT SURVIVOR.
 
Although his season was cut short because of his blood clotting incident he is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the 2016 season.

No question that he will return to full action but for sure this was a scary moment for him and his family.

Once again the take home message here is that blood clots can indeed AFFECT ANYONE at ANYTIME.

Knowing the signs and symptoms can save your life and you are your own first line of defense.

Read on @ STOPTHECLOT.org for basic info that can prove useful.

Don't become a statistic!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Saturday, May 09, 2015

STOP THE CLOT @ The Cap City Half-Marathon and Expo!

WONDERFUL Experience to be a part of this weekend.

MANY THANKS to the kind folks with M3Sports for letting us participate to create awareness.

During the expo and during the race we made a difference.

Here is looking forward to next year and another opportunity to reach out to more people and get more folks to wear the #StopTheClot polka-dots!















Sunday, April 05, 2015

April Athlete of the Month

Finally April!

Spring is coming along...

Weather is warming up...

And we are less than a month away from the CAPITAL CITY HALF-MARATHON in which TEAM STOP THE CLOT will be participating as we attempt to create awareness against blood clots and blood clotting disorders via our #STOPTHECLOT polka-dots.

I am very excited that our team of SURVIVORS and FRIENDS/FAMILY of SURVIVORS is coming together.  The red polka-dots will be running along the various available distances showing to all that we need to be aware of the deadly clots.
One of the participants on our team will be LYNSEY FUGATE who is coming all the way from Kansas City, MO to join us.

I can only hope to keep up with this speedy lady during 13.1 Miles of the event and I will have even less of a chance if her brother paces her... I will be glad to see Lynsey's #StopTheClot polka-dots from the back... I mean the way back!

Even after a year it is hard for me to believe the news of Lynsey being diagnosed with PE's... But I am thrilled to know that she has rebounded incredibly and ready to join us for this event.  Please read on to learn more about Lynsey and her story of survival...

THANK YOU LYNSEY for your willingness to share your story!


What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
  • I was a competitive swimmer since I was 7, but then after college, I got sucked into Triathlons. I always thought my two older brothers were crazy for doing an Ironman and thought I would NEVER EVER be crazy enough to do one of those. Well…I guess I am crazy because that is my favorite distance of triathlon. Not fun to train for sometimes, but I sure as heck can’t sprint (even though in triathlon an hour or more event is a sprint).
     
  • I mostly enjoy participating in triathlon because it brings my family close and is something we can all relate to. I also enjoy it because it forces me to be in shape, to strive to be the best I can and to train hard every day. I feel that swimming and triathlon has shaped me for whom I am today competitively, professionally and personally.
How did you get started in that sport? 
  • I wouldn’t be into Triathlon if it weren’t for my two older brothers, Bryan and Chris. They always excelled at what they did and I have always followed in their footsteps just trying to keep up. I feel that I have an advantage with having them in the sport in front of me because they can iron out all the kinks and I reap the benefits including how to train, when to rest, nutrition, what to do in off season etc. I would have NO IDEA what I was doing without them.
What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
  • I would have to say my most recent milestone would have to be finishing Ironman Arizona in November 2014. Although it was not my best race and not my first Ironman, it made me confident that I could get back into the gist of things after my PE in April 2014. I really wanted to be able to do Ironman Louisville 2014 with my brothers, but just didn’t have enough time to train (for MY body anyway), so that was disappointing.



Tell us about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?  
  • From the beginning: I had noticed I had been having some very quick heart palpitations  as I would be training in 2013 and it would be off and on and didn’t bother me that much because it didn’t happen too often. I decided I would wait until after Ironman Arizona (2013) that November to get checked. Well, I was hard headed and didn’t worry about it and started training again for the next year. The palpitations started coming on more often and lasting longer. I then decided to go to the cardiologist.
  • I went through a lot of testing and they finally figured out that I had what was called “SVT” which is short for Supraventricular Tachycardia. This is something that is quite common; however, I was told that most people don’t ever notice because they don’t get their heart rate high enough. Anyway, I had to have a cardiac ablation (basically cauterizing the extra electrodes I was born with so that my heart would beat normally). This is also a very common procedure and the cardiologist said that I could get back to training in one week! I did make sure he knew what “training” meant for me. Aka: Hard core pushing myself to the limit. He still told me everything would be ok. I was excited that it wasn’t that big of a deal. 
  • I went home the next morning with 6 pin hole incisions in the groin area with no issues (or so I thought). Two days later, I had a little soreness in my chest with breathing in deep. Didn’t think anything of it, just thought it was part of recovery. The next day it got worse and I was very short of breath with walking very short distances. One of my friends who is a nurse told me that she was worried it could be a PE. ME? No! Well? Maybe? I went to the ER the next day and they found a clot in my lungs.  Thank God for her telling me!
  • I was on Xarelto (blood thinner) for 3 months (I think…it has been a year now) and then got my blood re-tested and am off of it for good now. I would recommend having a primary care doctor to follow up with because I didn’t have one and I had to take control and follow up on my own with a hematologist. I was cleared to start working out “hard” again two weeks following my PE in April of 2014. I decided myself to only train on my trainer and not on my bike outside to reduce risk of a crash while on blood thinners. I thought I would get back to normal pretty quickly. Man was I mistaken. I was really tired and was short of breath pretty easily when I first got back into it. It took me a good six months to get back to where I could say I was prior to surgery. I actually lost my drive to even want to exercise and train which is 100% abnormal for me because I love competing. At this time, I didn’t think I would ever get back to where I was, I was pretty depressed, but kept with it and kept training hard. My brother Bryan was always my rock and would help me with training when I got worried about something. When I hit November, I was probably in the best shape I had ever been, but come race day, it just wasn’t my day. I think it was just a bad day with no rhyme or reason, everyone has those days and this was mine.  At least I finished. I am now training for IMAZ again for 2015. Here we go!!
  • Oh…what I failed to mention was that on my training journey since my blood clot, I have had random pains in my chest and feeling that I may have a blood clot again, but it always turned out to be nothing. I think this happens a lot with people with history of DVT or PE (at least I have read this).

What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster's Running Polka-Dot Technical Shirt...) 
  • I don’t really have a favorite piece of gear, but it all has to be yellow on race day. I am obsessed, but at least my family can find me.

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
  • I am just now getting back into training after my last Ironman, but when I am in training, it is 7 days a week with a rest day here and there.

What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
  • I usually crave a cheeseburger after a good workout.

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
  • I would like to go to Italy because that is where my ancestors are from. Always wanted to go to Egypt… not anymore

What would like to say to someone who is going through a clotting episode, perhaps very similar to yours?  
 
  • I would say stick with your goals and don’t give up, especially on the days where you feel so tired and have pains. You will make it through. I always tell my patient’s that anything traumatic that happens to your body, it takes about a year to heal, so be patient. I know, easier said than done.
 
How can people return to do what they enjoy? Tells about your concerns and what you look out after as you got back.
  • Start out short and easy activity and gradually build up. It is helpful to wear a heart rate monitor or take your heart rate manually to make sure you aren’t going to hard. Stop when you think you are struggling, otherwise you will get burnt out. You will get it back; just look at all the other stories.
So here is hoping that during the Capital City Half-Marathon and many others races down the road we will see Lynsey wearing the red polka-dots instead of her regular yellow.  I am just saying that the polka-dots will be just as lucky if not more than the yellow...!

Looking forward to see Lynsey continue to overcome and improve on her performance from last year's IMAZ.  Very inspiring to see what blood clot survivors are capable of regardless of the physical challenges.

NEVER STOP!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster
 

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