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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

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!