Get YOUR very own CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots

The "CLOT BUSTERs RACING to STOP THE CLOT" RUNNING SHIRT + TRIATHLON TOP + CYCLING JERSEY and PERFORMANCE HAT!!! PLEASE HELP US CELEBRATE CLOT SURVIVORS and spread awareness about blood clots and blood clotting disorders. If you are a CLOT SURVIVOR you need polka-dots to inspire others and CELEBRATE that you are Survivor. If you are a FAMILY MEMBER or FRIEND of a blood clot survivor you need polka-dots to spread the word, create awareness and CELEBRATE your Survivor's Accomplishments! (If you don't see the size you need we can make special arrangements so just ask @ CLOTBUSTERPOLKADOTS@gmail.com)
CLOT BUSTER Performance Hat Sizes
CLOT BUSTER RUNNING SHIRT Options

Follow the CLOT BUSTER on Twitter

@CLOTBUSTER

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

September Athlete of the Month

Every year this is a challenging time for me...

Unfortunately the summer is ending and my hard earned tan lines will soon fade away...

But VERY EXCITED because it is the season in which Blood Clot Survivors and Family/Friends of Blood Clot Patients get to inspire us all by participating in our various fundraising marathons... 

That is right VARIOUS...! 

TEAM STOPTHECLOT fundraising has expanded from the New York City Marathon to now also include the MARINE CORPS MARATHON.  This is an Outstanding job by the fine folks at The National Blood Clot Alliance! I am so proud of what they have been able to accomplish.

Look Out! The STOPTHECLOT polka-dots could be running along side you...

Without a doubt you will get to see this fine individual at the Marine Corps Marathon coming up in October.  Straight out of from her fundraising page (which you can access in the link below...) please read on to find a truly inspiring personal account of overcoming the surprise and challenges of coming doing with a blood clotting incident... Never Ever stop advocating or yourself... It could save your life!


"My name is Nancy and I'm a blood clot survivor.

In April of 2014 I joyfully learned I was pregnant with my 3rd child, after tragically loosing my daughter at birth that previous August. At the time I learned I was pregnant, I was training for a half marathon. The Dr's approved my continuing to run and in May I ran with a nagging calf pain. About a week after the half marathon, I visited my Dr to have my calf looked at, as it had not improved. My Dr asked me the basic questions I had been asked every single time I had gone in with a running injury- did I or my family have a history of blood clots? Had I travelled over 8 hours in the last two days? Satisfied with my "nos" my PCM declared it was just a sprain and to RICE. (Rest, ice, compression, elevation.) I followed his orders to a T, wearing compression socks and enjoying the break from running.

Two weeks later my calf was still not getting better. It was still a "nagging" pain that didn't ever seem to go away. My anxiety got the best of me, and I began to "DR GOOGLE" my symptoms. Every symptom I had pointed to a DVT, or a blood clot. I found www.stoptheclot.org and read story after story of people my age without a family history with similar symptoms being diagnosed. Armed with this information, I went back to my Dr. and insisted on an ultrasound. The Dr called me paranoid to my face, telling me I was over-reacting and my grief from my child-loss was getting the best of me. Still, he relented and ordered an ultrasound.

The first ultrasound was negative. I went home and rested. One week later, the pain still hadn't gone away. I went back in and they ordered another ultrasound. Again it was negative. (More "paranoia" the Dr told me.) They prescribed me Ativan to "help the baby" Another week later, the pain was still there and I was getting "hot spots".  The third ultrasound was negative. My PCM, OB both told me to have a glass of wine and drink more water. The stories from stoptheclot.org stayed in my head. I asked the Dr's if it was possible for an ultrasound to miss a clot. "But you have nice veins" one ultrasound tech told me. "It was very VERY rare to miss one," they assured me.

The fourth ultrasound- Friday- this one was different. The tech stayed on one spot for a very long time. A supervisor was called in to double check, and assured me it was nothing.
Sunday- the pain was so bad I was in tears. I decided to go back to urgent care. The DR on call looked at my history and shrugged his shoulders "Why not?" I remember him saying as he ordered the ultrasound.  

The fifth ultrasound- the clot was found. I cried openly I was told- vindicated that my gut was right, and scared.  I immediately was put on lovenox for treatment. Drs were in such shock that a clot was found (and missed 4 times) that it was reviewed FOUR times within 24 hours by different Drs.

My new hematologist found a genetic mutation- MTHFR that (along with pregnancy and the calf sprain) amounted to the DVT.  I safely navigated the rest of my pregnancy and gave birth to a health baby boy in December of 2014.

The road forward has not been easy since my DVT. Diagnosed with post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) my calf will "ache" without rhyme or reason. My vein where the DVT was, is now damaged, perhaps permanently. The distance running that makes my soul soar is now hard to obtain. I have had many, many, false starts back into running- each time being sidelined by PTS and calf pain that lasts weeks.

I refuse to give up on what I love simply because of my DVT. I am finding ways to run distance- incorporating massage therapy, weight-training, and always, ALWAYS- wearing compression socks. My calf aches daily. Yet, I will not quit.

I am honored to be running the MCM for the organization that helped save my life. Without the stories on stoptheclot.org, I probably wouldn't have pushed as hard for repeated ultrasounds. Regardless what is thrown at me during this training, I will not stop. If I get truly injured, I will find another way to continue to train."

Without a doubt Nancy is Tenacious and she is navigating this journey with the best attitude possible. She will not let blood clots stop her... not even slow her down.

Looking at an update from Nancy's Fundraising Page she is going the distance getting up to 18Miles with about 7 weeks to go before the race.  Her confidence is soaring as she is working on her come back!

I can't wait to see her conquering the 26.2Miles in her STOPTHECLOT polka-dots!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Monday, July 31, 2017

August Athlete of the Month

It does not matter who you are...

Young or old...

Male or Female...

Athletic or Normal...

Soccer Player or Triathlete...

Blood Clots can happen TO ANYONE AT ANYTIME...!!!

You MUST BE AWARE of the signs of symptoms as it can save your life... 

Start learning by visiting STOPTHECLOT.org 

You will be glad that you did.

You will also be glad to keep on reading... This month's featured blood clot survivor certainly has a story to tell...You don't want want to miss it... so READ ON...

"Eye on the Prize: Maddies Clotting Story
My name is Maddie, and I am a junior neuroscience major and varsity soccer player on the pre medical track at Stonehill College, a small DII school in Massachusetts. Soccer is a huge part of my life, it has always been my escape, my stress reliever and my happy place. I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. Soccer season is the time of year where I feel completely content with the sport that I love.  However, during the 2016-2017 soccer season I found myself on a journey that changed my life.

The 2016 season was a special one. My team was the underdog of the Northeast 10 conference, and we had the intent to prove everyone wrong this season and to shock the nation. We fought our way through many tough games and constantly pushed ourselves to be the best we could can be; we had each other’s backs and gave it our all out there. We traveled on busses to different states to challenge tough opponents; we kept our eye on the prize, to strive to be champions of our league. I was a sophomore center midfielder at the time, my job involved a lot of running on both offense and defense in order to have my teammate’s back all over the field. Well, in October 2016 I learned how well my teammates had my back too, but this time off the field.
One day when I was walking back from class, I spontaneously developed this terrible pain in the left side of my head. It was easily the worst headache I had ever felt. With playoffs in mind I was a bit hesitant to go to my health center in fear of missing practice, but the pain was enough for me to get it checked out. I explained to my schools health center that I was a student athlete and had a history of migraines and this pain was atypical from any migraine I had ever experienced. They sent me to the local emergency room.

With my knowledge of how serious head injuries can be, I informed the doctors that I was a student athlete on a contact sport team and mentioned the possibility of a head injury and inquired about a concussion. I was surprised when the doctors dismissed my concerns saying I probably did not need a scan and it was probably just a bad migraine. However, I ended up returning back to that ER later that night when the pain, dizziness and vomiting severely worsened. Again I was extremely surprised when the doctors did not think I needed to be scanned, and was slightly insulted when they joked and insisted that my pain could have been alcohol induced. I explained that I was a serious student and dedicated athlete who would not want to miss playoffs for the world; so my coming into the ER twice meant that my pain was very real. They did a cognitive concussion test and asked me about my medical history. I was on oral contraceptives to treat another medical condition, but did not take any other drugs or drank alcohol. They again sent me back to school and said it was just a bad migraine.
The next few days were tough. I thought I was foolish and weak for going to the ER twice with nothing wrong. I tried going back to my normal life, including going to class and even trying to practice. I struggled. The dizziness and pain were bad and I felt extremely fatigued from not eating and drinking much because of nausea. Some of my teammates knew that I was not okay. These special ladies took extremely good care of me; they helped me finish my assignments, brought me food, and even held my hand during tough nights when the pain was particularly bad. A few days after my ER trip, my team had a game in Syracuse, about a four hour bus ride. I went with them. Although I wasn’t strong enough to play I wanted to be there to support them. My teammates continued to support me on this trip as they cared for me when I wasn’t feeling well at the hotel and comforted me when I had trouble on the bus. Two of my teammates agreed that the Monday after we got home from our trip they would drive me to a neurologist. When we got back from our trip that Saturday night, they put me to bed. However that night I woke in the middle of the night screaming with pain. I immediately texted my team and one of my teammates generously came and drove me to the ER. After they finally scanned me, the doctors were amazed to see the abnormality. They diagnosed me with Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis, which was a blood clot extending through four major veins in my brain. They immediately rushed me to the stroke and neurosurgery center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital where I was monitored. My team of doctors were amazed that I did not have a major stroke and suffered no neurological injury.

I was so confused on how a young healthy athlete could have clotting, especially to the severity that I had. The doctors explained that venous clots are actually more common in athletes than people think. For me the clots formed by the combination of being dehydrated, constant blows to the head with a soccer ball, taking oral contraceptives, and being stationary for long periods of time when traveling on the team bus. They said the terrible headache I felt that first day could have been when the clot was just forming, and it grew all that week following when I continued to travel, play, take my medicine, and remained dehydrated. I was shocked that even the doctors at the ER never considered a blood clot, and I was thankful that I advocated for myself and went back that third time even when I was told I was fine.

At Brigham I was treated with blood thinners, to prevent the existing clot from growing, starting with IV Heparin. Then I was bridged to Lovanox shots and began taking Coumadin pills. I stayed at the hospital for a few days. When I was released, the first thing I did was go with my family to my school’s soccer field where I was able to watch my team win their first playoff game. My team’s playoff experience was an amazing distraction for all of the crazy health stuff that was going on in my life. Although I wanted to play, I learned to accept a new team role as someone on the sidelines who was there to cheer and motivate my teammates. My team reached our goal and won our conference as Northeast 10 Champions, advancing to the NCAA tournament. I was lucky to be healthy enough to go with my team to the NCAAs; even though I had to get my blood tested when I was traveling to monitor how my blood was clotting.

 Being on blood thinners as a college student was difficult; I went from being a tough and active athlete, to wearing a medical alert bracelet and being extremely careful of even the smallest cuts or bruises in fear of internal bleeding. I felt as if I was a 19 year old trapped in a 95 year old’s body. The months followed included blood tests every few days, frequent doctor’s appointments and scans, and a lot of missed school work to make up. I had a lot going on at the time; I was trying to balance my new medical life with my life as a college student. I struggled with keeping up with the school while dealing with this head trauma. I am thankful however for the Academic Services team at my school for helping me through this time. I am also continually grateful some incredible teammates and friends who drove me around to these doctor appointments and who were there for me and supported me emotionally. By February my clots were almost gone and I was taken off Coumadin and switched to Aspirin as a blood thinner, meaning it was safe to start to do light play without contact. My eye remained on the prize; I wanted to do whatever I could to get back on the field. My neurologist had since also banned me from heavy lifting in fear of putting too much pressure on my blood. Despite these adjustments I was happy to be on the road to recovery and expected no more health surprises. 
However, in early 2017, I noticed that I was still having bad throbbing headaches, dizziness and started to notice some hearing abnormalities. I heard a whooshing sound that I found was rhythmic with my heartbeat called pulsatile tinnitus. I thought it was nothing, maybe a side effect from the Aspirin therapy or something. This sound was loud and agonizing; it was the sound of my pulse in my ear all the time. I always relate the maddening feeling to the story “Tell Tale Heart.” When the symptoms worsened, I informed my neurologist and he advised me to get an MRI just to be safe.
A few days later I was taking an exam in my chemistry class at Stonehill when my phone buzzed on my desk and my neurologist’s number popped up. Generously, my professor allowed me to take my doctors call. He told me that my scan was again abnormal, and this time they found something called Dural Arteriovenous Fistulas. These are very rare lesions around the brain that are sometimes linked with blood clots. My neurologist explained that there is a lot about fistulas that are unknown; he said that fistulas are abnormal blood vessel connections between a vein and an artery. My clot was so large and clotted so many veins, that my brain tried to compensate for the loss of blood to those areas by forming channels from my arteries to the veins that needed blood flow. These can be very dangerous and can cause bleeding or stroke in the brain.

There are two possibilities for these lesions: that they could either dissipate or they could grow. Mine unfortunately grew around my brain, and became larger as more abnormal vessels were constantly being recruited. In Boston and New York I met with several of the best neurosurgeons in the country. On May 24,th2017 at NYU Langone Hospital, I had my first embolization, which is an endovascular neurosurgery to close off the abnormal vessels around the left side of my brain. Unfortunately, my surgeon said that my legion grew to be a “monster” and I had to have more treatments done. I had my second surgery on July 7th 2017 to close off more vessels on the left side and to stop the ones that were extending to my right side. There may be more treatments to come, but my neurosurgeon is very supportive on getting me back to my normal life, which also means being able to be active and to play soccer.

The thought of playing again and getting back to the sport I love has definitely given me hope and motivated me. It has truly helped me stay focused on my recovery.  This road to recovery has been very long and challenging but I am beyond thankful for my family and friends who have supported me through this entire experience. I am grateful for Stonehill College’s Athletic Department, Health Services and Academic Services, which have all helped me adjust to each new obstacle. A big thank you to those teammates and friends in particular who made this year so much easier for me; you’ve held my hand through pain and tough news, came to doctors appointments and emergency room visits, and comforted me after surgery; I don’t know where I would be without your love and support. 

Although it has been beyond challenging to sit out and not be able to play the sport that I love, I am working hard to reach my goal of being able to play next season. My team of doctors at NYU are extremely supportive and understand that part of getting me back to my normal life includes being an athlete. I am so excited to say that my neurosurgeon has finally cleared me to play for the fall 2017 season. There is still a lot of recovering to do, and a lot of training adjustments to be made before next season. It is going to be challenging, with more obstacles to come, but I am determined to train hard and put in the work so I can step on that field as soon as I can.

 I am grateful for Team Stop the Clot and the National Blood Clot Alliance for constantly sharing survivor stories of athletes and inspiring other athletes like me to work hard to get back to the sports we love. Blood clots can happen to anyone of any age and any activity level, it is important to ask your doctor about your own risks for dangerous clotting, and to be informed on the ways to maintain a healthy life style. For athletes, things that can make our blood more likely to clot are dehydration, remaining stationary on long bus rides, and hormonal medications like oral contraceptives. The most common places for Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clots) are in the legs and in the lungs, but can also be found in the arms or in the brain. Time is a big factor in treating clots as larger clots can sometimes come with more dangerous and life threatening complications like mine did. Every clotting experience is different so it is important to be well informed.

I have faced many obstacles this year, but am extremely grateful for the blessings as well. Both Dural Fistulas and Blood Clots in the Brain can be extremely dangerous and they often result in stroke, bleeding, and neurological damage; I was very lucky not to have experienced these side effects. There have been a lot of questions by doctors in both Boston and New York about if I would ever be able to play collegiate soccer again, or any contact sport for that matter, but like my soccer team last season, I am determined to prove everyone wrong and to shock the nation. This experience has taught me a lot, but most importantly it has reminded me of the key lessons that we are all taught as young athletes; to always listen to your body and to self-advocate, to appreciate and reciprocate the support of your teammates, to work hard and stay positive, to always keep your eye on the prize, and to never ever give up."

You cannot help but to wish Maddie the best of luck in her recovery and return to the sport she loves...She will be back BETTER THAN EVER!

Blood Clot Survivors CAN DO ANYTHING!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, July 07, 2017

July Athlete of the Month

Since we are now in the middle of summer it is time to go big...

Big in Outdoor Fun...

Big in Training... Personally looking to improve on my result from Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin at the Ironman 70.3 Ohio...

Big in Playing with my boys...

Big in Spreading Awareness about Blood Clots and Blood Clotting Disorders by getting CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots shipped around the world...

Big in the feature of this month's athlete of the month...

It does not get any bigger than an Olympic Athlete...

Please read on and learn about KATIE HOFF's experience with blood clots as published on link below through STOPTHECLOT.org


Blood Clots can happen to anyone... even Olympic caliber athletes... It will always blow my mind...

Be on the lookout for CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots around you.. 2017 is shaping to be a record year for sales of polka-dot gear and I could not be more excited.  People out there PROUDLY wearing their polka-dots to celebrate that THEY ARE SURVIVORS or perhaps simply wearing the polka-dots to celebrate someone they know who is a survivor which in turns helps us spread awareness.

If you want your very own please go ahead an order through this blog and I will personally will process your order but I will not lick your envelope closed... I have industrial tape for that.

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Saturday, June 24, 2017

CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots in Madison, Wisconsin...

Two weeks ago I raced in my CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots in Madison, Wisconsin...

Wonderful opportunity to get the #StopTheClot message out there.

Got the chance to meet several folks who learned about the polka-dots and why they exist.

But above all, connected with Clot Survivors which always erases the pain of finishing this brutal event because it is likely that we will have more polka-dots racing in the future!

So as the recovery continues ahead of my next challenge at the of July keep an eye out for polka-dotted people racing alongside you... If you see any greet them because they overcame a monumental challenge... Surviving Blood Clots...







Thursday, June 01, 2017

June Athlete of the Month

At last summer is here and the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots are free to race far and wide...!

Very excited about all the places the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots are getting shipped to... Many blood clot Survivors and friends are survivors are ready to help us spread the word about blood clots and blood clotting disorders.  While also celebrating Survival and being able to Overcome!

One of those Survivors is GAIL AVEDANO our June Athlete of the Month.  Poor Gail was inquiring about the polka-dot gear and little that she know she was going to be "interviewed" so that she could share with all of us her story of survival.

We are very lucky that she is willing to share her story as ANY OF US, regardless of age - race - physical condition, can suffer from this silent killer.  We have to always be aware of the signs and symptoms because it could saver your life.

Get reading and be inspired this summer to not ever give up if you are battling to overcome... because a come back to normal or almost normal is always within reach...

1)  What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
I primarily do three different activities: running, Bikram Yoga, and walking my two dogs. I'm a huge proponent of cross training and find that these activities complement each other. They all help keep me sane in different ways. 


2)  How did you get started in that sport? 
In terms of running, I completed my first half marathon in 2007--intending to walk the whole thing. The day of the race, I got so caught up in the excitement that I ended up running parts of it and from then on, I was hooked. My story is the typical "mom runner" story. My three kids were young when I started running and running gave me the alone time I needed while also helping me to de-stress. I'm certain that running made me a better mom. I also learned early on that I needed to be signed up for an upcoming race in order to have motivation to run. That, for me was key.



3)  What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did) 
As of January this year, I've completed a half marathon in all fifty states. It took me ten years to do it, but it was a wonderful goal that kept me focused on my workouts and gave me a great reason to meet up with my best friend from college a few times a year. She and I completed the goal together and it was great to have her support and motivation through it all. Now I sign up for races I consider "fun" and don't care what state they are in. I'm still managing to keep my race calendar full and I'm looking forward to completing the Portland (full) Marathon in October.

4)  Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
I'm on Xarelto after a trip to the emergency room on December 31, 2016. For about a month, I had a dull, nagging pain along my lower right side and was certain that I had pulled a muscle. After getting a massage, the pain subsided--confirming (I thought) that my pain was muscular. During the holiday break, I found that it hurt to lie flat on my back when I tried to go to sleep and the pain was worse when I took a deep breath. At no point would I say I had shortness of breath, though. I also never had leg pain so I'm pretty sure my clot did not start there.

The night of December 30th, I went to bed and could not get comfortable. The pain increased to the point where it was unbearable so I went to the emergency room--certain that I was having a gall bladder attack or something similar. I was shocked to learn that I had a clot that took up a third of my lower right lung. I was in the hospital for two days and took a week off of work, but I never had to be on supplemental oxygen. I credit my running and regular yoga practice for having strong lungs that could withstand the blockage. A sonogram on my heart showed no damage, and I was cleared to return to normal activities very quickly.



5)  When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?
My 50th state half marathon was scheduled to take place less than three weeks after my emergency room visit and there was no way I wanted to give up my week-long trip to Hawaii. My doctor thought I was a bit overzealous, but said I could do the race if I walked most of it and didn't overexert myself. So, my last state race was--on one hand--a huge bummer because I had to do it so slowly, but--on the other hand--a huge relief and celebration that I was physically able to do it. I describe that race on my blog: https://halfsandhikes.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/aloha-series-50th-state/

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...) 
I look forward to wearing my new Clot Buster's hat in all of my upcoming races, but my favorite gear would have to be my Garmin Vivoactive HR+. Not only does it have a GPS tracker, but it also tracks my heart rate--something I never cared about before but now do.

7)  How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
Every day I either run, walk, or go to a Bikram Yoga class. I would say I generally run three times a week.

8)   What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito... 
My favorite post-race meal is a cheeseburger, fries, and a beer. In normal life, though, I try to eat much healthier than that.

9)  If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
I live in Utah, which has the most amazing hiking options. I could explore forever in my own backyard and never see it all. 

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. 
I would tell them to ask as many questions as they can and seek out information from reliable sources. I am lucky because my doctor's wife went through a very similar experience to mine and is now on anti-coagulants for life because she had two clotting episodes. I can't begin to tell you how understanding and helpful that made my doctor when it came to my situation. 

I also know, from reading so many stories, that everyone is different and people have different side effects. Shortness of breath and anxiety are common symptoms, but I haven't experienced either. I have, however, noticed that my heart rate spikes pretty quickly and I feel like I have to be careful about that. I started getting back into running by walking. I also know I will probably never get anohter sub two-hour time, but that's okay. Now, five months out, I am still taking walking breaks during my runs. I'm staying active, though, and that is helping to prevent future clots. Staying active also helps to strengthen my heart and lungs, and the fact that I was already in good physical condition when I got a blood clot is why I recovered so quickly.

My concern now is in looking ahead. I'm pretty sure my clot was caused by being on birth control pills so I now know any hormone replacement therapy is out of the question for me. I'm also pretty sure that means I will only have to be on an anti-coagulant for a year (my doctor's recommendation) since I can identify a known cause. I haven't had blood tests, though, to identify any clotting abnormalities in my blood and I plan to have those done when I can. Finding out I have Factor V Leiden, for example, might prompt me to be on an anti-coagulant for life.

I share the fear that others have regarding medication. I'm scared to be on it because of a potential bleeding episode and I'm scared to be off of it for fear I will develop another pulmonary embolism. You can't live your life in fear though, and you can only control so much. No matter what, I'll keep living one day at a time and putting one foot in front of the other on as many race courses as I can reasonably afford. 


How about that..?!?!? 50 Half-Marathons and one in each of the 50 States is an incredible feat.  Talk about dedication...

Certainly Gail is overcoming the challenges of blood clots with a remarkable positive attitude that is for sure contagious.  You can't stop her and blood clots can't even slow here down... There is a big world out there and probably a Half-Marathon available in every country... Never to late to start on a new goal...!

Here is hoping that I get the chance to share in a post-race cheeseburger and fries with Gail as I attempt to keep up with that energy and dedication.

Enjoy the Summer coming up!

If you see Clot Buster #StopTheClot polka-dots out there say hello and ask about their story.  If nothing else remember that StopTheClot.org is out there as a resource for you to learn about blood clots and be aware.

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

May Athlete of the Month

As the months continue go by and I am lucky enough to share with you these blog posts about Blood Clot Survivors I am beginning to wonder if all of the States in the United States have been represented with the post...

I know that I've had a number of international Blood Clot Survivors featured but it would be interesting to see how many States have been actually represented...? 

One thing is for sure there is a big country (and world) out there with a lot to see and experience.  One of the states that I have not had the chance to visit yet is IOWA.  Perhaps some day I will find my way there and get the opportunity to ride around in our CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots with this month's CLOT BUSTER Athlete of the Month - TODD ROBERTSON.

Again the magic of the internet and social media has been able to connect me with Todd so that this month we can share his story that is sure to make you reflect and inspire you to overcome the challenges of blood clots.

Please read on and enjoy...    

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
Normally, I would say that paddling and spending time on rivers whitewater canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding is my greatest passion activity and it’s also my job as an instructor. That said, cycling is my main passion right now because that is the vehicle I use for spreading blood clot awareness!



How did you get started in that sport?
I discovered rivers 20 years ago when I was given a used canoe. Once I hit the river, I was hooked for life. It later turned my new passion into a job as Rivers Outreach Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and I also became a certified Level 3 instructor. Teaching people how to paddle efficiently and safely is an important job to me, especially teaching children. As for cycling, I bought my first road bike 2 years ago and ride as much as I can. I think riding RAGBRAI, the oldest and largest group ride in the world will be a great way to spread awareness as I wear and rotate the “polka dot” jersey and my own custom made Pulmonary Embolism Survivor jersey. I’d like to see some of the Team Stop the Clot on RAGBRAI 2018!! Let’s have our own little group of clot-busters riding together for a week.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did)
My most recent milestone reached was getting my certification to teach stand up paddle boarding. It was no easy task. At 53 years old, Lake Superior really put me through the meat grinder as the limits of my physical power was truly tested!  The waves and swells were huge! But, I made it. Other potential instructors in the brutal week long course were in their early 20’s or younger! I was the old man in the group!

 Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
Easter, a time of resurrection, was my 90 days out.  My 3 month PE clotiversary.  I made it to 50 years of age before having a clot and finding out I have Factor 5 Leiden, the homozygous variety. Both of my parents had the mutated gene and BOTH passed it on to me. How fun!  My first traumatic “bloodletting” injury came when I fell off of a canoe trailer, suspended in midair by a big hook in my leg. I now know what it feels like to be a hooked fish. After ER surgery, I developed a blood clot in my leg at the site of the injury. They attributed it to the injury itself. Then a few months later, another clot, this time a DVT. They then did a blood test and gave me the F5L news. Anticoagulants for life. They say homozygotes have an 80% increased chance of clotting abnormally over the non F5L person. Not sure why they bother with that 20%. I mean if the weather forecast calls for an 80% chance of rain, are you really thinking about that 20% chance you will stay dry? No, you’re too busy trying to find the umbrella because you know you’re going to get wet! I’m now on Xeralto, 20mg daily. So this year, my former “not so bright” doctor took me off Xeralto 4 full days prior to my colonoscopy. That was a mistake on his part. That long off Xerlato is not the way to bridge. For 3 full days I had no anticoagulant medication in my system.  But he wasn’t the only one at fault. I had a bad habit of missing doses here and there and taking X in the morning on an empty stomach. That entire combination gave me a Pulmonary Embolism on January 17th, 2017. It was the size of pregnant earthworm (makes you envision it, right?) and it slithered to the bottom of my right lung.  I went to work the next day. I was weak, and was told I looked like walking death, but I was very lucky. Now, 90+ days later, my lung has healed 80% and I am back to normal.  But being a F5L homozygite, I am constantly, in the back of my mind, on clot watch.  I do look at all of this as a blessing. Maybe best thing to ever happen to me. It has turned me into an “awareness raiser”.  A recent newspaper article and interview went nationwide and I heard from over 600 survivors. I have started an Iowa based support group and campaign with the support group being backed by two local hospitals, Mercy and Methodist.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time? 
I was able to start running and exercising within a month. I just did my first 20 mile bike ride last week to test my lung out. It felt awesome, although at the end of a 28mph sprint, that spot where the clot had come to rest, showed signs of soreness, reminding me that I still have some healing to do or could be damaged permanently. I plan on riding all 400+ miles of RAGBRAI this July. I will also be back to instructing in just a few weeks.


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 favorite gear is my “no brainer” item: my rescue lifejacket when on water. I also have my Scott Speedster road bike, my Boardworks touring and racing SUP and I love my clot-busting running shirt, bike jersey and tri jersey! I wear the dots every chance I get and when I rotate out on the bike, I wear my PE Survivor jersey! I need a polka-dot clot-busting lifejacket!

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Every day you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week)
I stay active. I paddle about 1000 miles a year and will bike as much as possible, including commuting to work on many days. I also have signed up for quite a few 5 and 10ks. Next up: The Drake Relays Road Races!

What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
I am addicted to multi meat pizza and chocolate milk. Also love my ribeye’s on the grill. I’m an Iowa native…and that means I’m a homegrown corn, meat and potatoes boy.

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
Our many National Parks. I love the NPS. I want to go to Yosemite and Yellowstone and bike and paddle in both locations!

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.
The NUMBER ONE thing to remember is: You need to be your own advocate. Not all doctors finished at the top of their class and not all have a grasp on blood clots. Find a good team if possible, especially if you have suffered a PE. The team should include at least one visit with a cardiologist, a pulmonologist and a hematologist.  Having a good GP/MD for regular visits is a plus. Remember, you can “fire” any doctor you wish if you are not getting your questions answered or if you feel you are being “blown off”. We all suffer post traumatic shock and we need emotional support. Also, give yourself time to heal. We as people are like snowflakes….no two people are the same. Recovery time can range from weeks to years and everyone is going through something different. It does not have to be a death sentence and clots and clotting conditions can be managed.  Make raising awareness a goal. Blood clots are NOT talked about like they should be. We need to spread the word. By doing this, we can help ourselves and help others. We got this!

And if you have not been tested for a genetic clotting disorder and have suffered clots previously, do so, especially if there is no reason known of why you clotted abnormally.  Again, be your own advocate, get educated and spread the word!

Also while you are reading this check out this video Todd had the opportunity to participate to discuss the dangers of blood clots and the awareness needed to be alert in combating this potentially silent killer...

Sounds like Todd and I could hang out for sure!

For many years now I've been wondering about riding RAGBRAI as one of the most epic and famous state crossing routes in the United States.  I am not sure I can keep up with Todd during this challenge but for sure I think that getting a team of people in CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots would be FANTASTIC!!! Perhaps in 2018 we will have to make this happen.

Also, I will need to get some pointers from Todd to improve my Kayaking skills... not to mention how I would love to get into doing more Stand Up Paddling... For sure sounds like Iowa will be on my short list of states to visit next... Specially now that I know I have tour guide in #StopTheClot polka-dots.

THANK YOU TODD for your willingness to share your story.  YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Monday, April 10, 2017

April Athlete of the Month

Wow... It has been an eventful couple of last weeks... I am glad those are behind me.

Something you may learn about me is that I HATE HOSPITALS... I've been very fortunate to stay away from them and only go when absolutely necessary... like the birth of my 3 boys or emergencies with my kids... But having 3 boys I am afraid that the emergency kind of visits maybe more frequent... I HOPE that they are not but I sense that because they are boys this is inevitable... Wish me luck down the road...Yikes!

But since WE ARE ALL VERY LUCKY to see the sunrise every morning we have arrived to April 2017...

And because it is a new month WE ARE AGAIN VERY LUCKY to have found a willing Blood Clot Survivor who has been kind enough to share her story of overcoming the challenges of blood clots with all of us.  

As we are heading into the beauty of spring please allow me introduce to you our April Athlete of the Month - ELIZABETH DiNOVIS.  Without a doubt her personal account of her clotting incident and her determination to overcome the challenges of clotting will inspire you to battle just like she is as she is getting ready to throw down with her first 5K Run since her diagnosis... It has been a long road to travel but Elizabeth is ready to take it on in her very own CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots...!

Read on...


1) What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
I have always loved running because it feels so freeing and is such a great stress reliever.  The fact that you can really track your progress and are able to run just about anywhere is a great bonus! I also appreciate that it can be both an individual and team sport.

2) How did you get started in that sport?
 I ran cross country and track in high school. 

3) What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
I am running my first 5k since my blood clot diagnosis in 2010 on April 15th

4)  Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
In February 2010, while living abroad in Ecuador, I woke up to my left leg being so swollen that it was hard as a rock and felt like a dead limb.  I could not even lift my leg.  I was hospitalized that morning and diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis.  In retrospect, I began to have symptoms 3 or 4 days beforehand, and had even been given an anti-inflammatory shot earlier in the week as the doctor thought my symptoms were related to the sciatic nerve that had been bothering me for a few months. 

Initially manifesting as an ache in my groin and progressing to me having trouble walking up steps, my symptoms continued and the night before I was hospitalized my calf began to swell.  I was an active 23-year-old, so I also originally thought that it might be a pulled groin muscle or the effects of a running workout I had completed recently.  I was not familiar with the symptoms associated with a blood clot and that was not anywhere on my radar.  After a week in the hospital, I was sent home but I was not able to stand on my leg and it took almost 2 months for me to be able to regain my mobility.  I was taking coumadin, and about a month after my hospitalization noticed that my fingers were bruising.  The lab work initially came back incorrectly and it turned out that I was severely over anticoagulated.  I was immediately admitted to the hospital where I was given fresh frozen plasma in order to regulate my bloodwork and to avoid any risks of internal bleeding.  The entire experience was physically and mentally exhausting.  I stayed on coumadin for 8 months initially.

After moving back to the United States in 2011, I was diagnosed with May-Thurner syndrome, which is when the right iliac artery compresses the left iliac vein, and had two stents placed in my iliac vein to help keep it open.  While this was a step in the right direction and relieved some of the extreme swelling and discomfort I was still experiencing, it did not fully alleviate the issue by any means.  I wore full pantyhose compression stocking daily and was unable to run for more than a few minutes at a time.  After the stent placement, I took warfarin for 1 year and then was taken off the medication and switched to a daily aspirin. 

In 2013, my stents occluded due to new blood clots and I began taking warfarin again.  The vascular surgeon I saw after the occlusion did not want to touch the clot because he was afraid of causing a pulmonary embolism and we weren’t sure exactly at what point it had formed over the last year.  In 2015, I tried a procedure at another hospital where they placed a temporary IVC filter and attempted to open up the blocked stents.  They were unable to push through the clot and scar tissue.  I was SO disappointed.  A few months later I found an interventional radiologist who had access to a PowerWire which uses radiofrequency to recanalize vein occlusions.  So cool! AND IT WORKED!  He was also able to place 2 mores stents.  Before the procedure, he had also added Plavix and aspirin to my warfarin regimen.  However, at a follow up appointment it seemed that my body was resistant to the Plavix and there was already narrowing of the stents.  I was immediately switched to Effient, a different antiplatelet, and scheduled for another angioplasty and stent placement.  I now have 6 stents in my left leg and continue to have angioplasties due to restenosis.  I still take warfarin, aspirin and Effient daily.

To sum it up: Unfortunately, the blood clot in my groin has affected my entire left leg and did not resolve, leaving me not only with physical pain and discomfort such as swelling, heaviness and varicose veins, (a chronic condition known as post-thrombotic syndrome), but also emotionally exhausted as I tried to adjust to this new reality and reduced quality of life.  Since then I've been through 7 years of ultrasounds, CT scans, venograms and MRIs; more doctor appointments, blood draws, medications and tears than I can possibly count; 6 stents, 5 procedures, 1 temporary IVC filter; and a diagnosis of May-Thurner syndrome.  I'm still waiting for drug eluting balloons applicable to the femoral vein to hit the market which I'm hoping will continue to improve my condition.  There are definitely more procedures in my future, but I'm SO grateful to have progressed to this point!


5) When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?   
I went on a few runs in 2015 after the 6th stent was placed and it felt so good to get out there and sweat!  However, it really wasn’t until a few months ago that I seriously began considering running a 5k.  Now it feels amazing to build up endurance and gain a little (very little! haha) bit of speed.  I’m hoping to keep training and really improve following this first 5k next weekend.

6)  What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? 
I have always loved Asics running shoes 😊  I also wear compression stocking when I run which truly help!

7)  How much are you getting out doing your sport? 
Right now, I am in graduate school so I am trying to run 3 days a week.

8)   What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout. 
I actually really love grilled vegetables or a roasted red pepper and garlic pizza!

9)  If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would you like to go? 
I would love to visit somewhere in Asia one day. 

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.
 I think it is incredibly important to be your own advocate and to keep searching until you find a doctor willing to work with you in your recovery.  I have been to many, many doctors and it has been a process to find the right fit.  Educating myself about my condition and staying up-to-date on the latest innovations in the field helped me to better understand my diagnosis and the possibilities for improving it.  I also found a great deal of comfort in reading about other people’s experiences via the National Blood Clot Alliance’s website and connecting with other people who have experienced blood clots at their Stop The Clot events or via online platforms and support groups for survivors of venous thromboembolism.  I had a lot of anxiety and panic attacks for quite a long time due to my fear of another blood clot diagnosis.  Once the second diagnosis happened I think it was my worst fear being realized, so from there it was about climbing out of that place and trying to take as much control over my situation as I could.  I’m also a big advocate of counseling to provide an outlet to express the emotional toll that a blood clot diagnosis takes on patients and their families.  Managing a chronic condition is difficult and it’s important to get yourself the support you need! I also LOVE using an aqua jogger which helped me to run in the pool while I was unable to run on land. (Shout out to my mom for that one!)

THANK YOU SO MUCH Elizabeth for sharing your story!

I can't wait to see pictures of you rocking and finishing that 5K this coming weekend while you wear the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots... Wear them proudly because you have earned them!

Next Saturday ENJOY THE SWEET PAIN OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENT because it is just the beginning of your comeback!

Thank you 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