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Monday, June 04, 2018

June Athlete of the Month

10 Years of posting personal accounts of Blood Clot Survivors... 

Not my words but theirs...

Not my feelings but theirs...

Not my experinces but theirs...

Our collective INSPIRATION to OVERCOME!

This has been a wonderful journey for me.  Getting to meet all of these amazing individuals.  Most of the only virtually but making a connection because their stories resonate with me.  I hope that they resonate with you as well.

Here is hoping that I can continue doing it as long as it helps people in their blood clot survivial journey.

But above all THANK YOU TO ALL who for the last 10 years have been willing to share their story.  You guys are the ones making the difference for others who are in need of a lift.

Speaking of a lift.  This month's CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot Athlete of the Month has a one of a kind experience and story that you don't want to miss.

Please allow me to introduce to you ANGELA who very graciously agreed to share her story with all of us.  You are not going to find a more dedicated person than her... So buckle up and enjoy the ride...!  

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
I’m a runner, short distances for racing, longer for fun. I love the freedom of running, I can do it anywhere, out on the trails no matter the weather. I can let my mind wander and enjoy the beauty surrounding me. I sometimes ski, bike, play tennis, do a bit of yoga, swim but I always run.



How did you get started in that sport? 
I ran as a child, we’d have races around the block. I could beat the boys, I loved how it felt to accelerate at the end. I stopped in secondary and started again in graduate school.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve? (Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did).
My latest race was a 5 x 10K relay, it’s an annual race I do with friends. It was the same race I was running four years ago when I couldn’t breathe. On the milestone list,  I ran the Dublin City Marathon with my son in 2016 and I hope to run another in 2019 with my son and daughter somewhere exotic, maybe New Zealand.

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
I was in great shape, training for a 10K relay.  Six weeks before, I was working in Seoul, Korea. The day I headed back to the US, I went for a fabulous 10-mile run to explore the city, taking photos of the fish market and other sights. Then I flew to Detroit and on to Denver. I had a glass or two of wine on the plane and slept most of the way (don’t do that…). The next morning, I went skiing at Winter Park. I may have fallen skiing moguls, I may have hit myself with the ski pole, I don’t know. I ran every day in Denver then I flew home to Madison, WI. Fast forward 6 weeks to my weekly speedwork with Movin’ Shoes Track Club running 1000M repeats. After the second 1000M, I had a severe coughing attack, I couldn’t stop. I now realize my lungs were trying to clear something. I rested until race day on Saturday.  I ran the first leg of the relay. On the first hill, I couldn’t breathe. I stopped, caught my breath, told myself to ease up, I always go out too fast.  I kept starting and stopping. I was passed by people who wouldn’t normally pass me. As I didn’t want to disappoint my team, I asked the volunteer at Mile 2 to call the start. I had my team mate Cliff come out the reverse direction to get my baton as I was ruining our time (I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me other than a bad race). I walked up the next hill, the hill I normally do speed work on. Cliff met me at the Mile 4 and finished my race. A friend drove me back to the start. I made excuses and left to go to a 5K Cancer Society race with my good friend who’s a cancer survivor. I couldn’t get out of the car but eventually I did and I walked the course. I was really dragging up the hills. I figured I had a cold. On Monday, I went to the Nurse at work looking for an excuse why I was so slow. She asked me could it be I was just getting older. I tried to explain I couldn’t breathe, my blood was 96% oxygenated (okay). We agreed it might be asthma related to a cold.   That week, I kept trying to run and every time I couldn’t breathe. I did singles tennis drills the next Saturday and was leaning on the wall between points completely winded bemoaning how bad my season was going to be if I was this out of shape. On Easter Sunday, convinced I had asthma I used my husband’s inhaler then met my running friends for our long run. Even running downhill, I couldn’t breathe so I let them go on and stayed out on the trails walking and running for an hour. I finally realized there was something wrong, I was fairly sure I must be having a heart attack (family history) but I was still in denial. I thought about going to urgent care but it was Easter and we had plans. I waited until Monday to see the Nurse. She sent me to the emergency room, they did an EKG and D-dimer blood tests. The D-Dimer was high so they sent me for a lung CAT scan.  My lungs were 60% blocked with bilateral Pulmonary Emboli (high clot burden). They gave me a Lovenox injection and sent me to a cardiac unit overnight. I immediately felt better and was walking around the cardiac unit that evening. They found my primary clot in my Iliac vein the next morning. I was released on Xarelto.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?   
I went for a 4 mile walk with my husband the day I was released. I felt great. The Lovenox helped let me breathe. I wasn’t supposed to run for a few weeks. I celebrated my first run with my running group, I felt great.  My struggle was with speed work, I didn’t want to be out of breath, no pushing. I came off Xarelto after 6 months. Anytime I had a coughing attack, I struggled mentally. Any time I was out of breath, I worried. I’d had a lot of trouble running in the cold and I’d cough a lot, basically the only symptoms I’d had before. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with asthma, I believe it was related to the PEs. I take Advair now and it helps a lot.

What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? 
Whatever is clean and weather appropriate.

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
I run 4-5 times a week and play tennis a few times. I travel a lot so running is easiest for me.

What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout/race
I daydream of ice-cream on my runs.

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
My favorite place to run is a trail around Howth Head, north of Dublin, Ireland. There’s a spectacular view of the city. When the weather is good, it’s tropical. It’s a few miles from where I grew up and I run it every time I’m home. Dublin and its surroundings has beautiful runs including the Wicklow Way.
I travel every month, I wear compression tights, get an aisle seat and make sure to walk around every hour. I hydrate, take salt tablets and aspirin to minimize the possibility of another clot.

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 something feels wrong, pay attention to it. If you can’t breathe, take it seriously, go to the ER. Don’t be embarrassed. To get back, walk then walk-run. I used a heart rate monitor to understand what was going on. Talk with other survivors, I found the Facebook group “Running after a Pulmonary Embolism” very helpful. I collaborated with my Hematologist about my treatment. I had multiple D-Dimer tests after I came off Xarelto, they were frequently very high and always false positives. I stopped having the test. I struggled a lot mentally when I had coughing attacks and subsequent trouble breathing during runs. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with asthma, the symptoms mirror though were far less severe than when I had PEs. The uncertainty was the hardest part. With the Advair for my asthma, I breathe well.
I fly every other week and am meticulous about minimizing my risk. I try to build awareness of the risk even on relatively short flights (3 hours).

PLEASE PLEASE take me to your favortie trail in Ireland... I am going to need a personal tour as long as you give me the chance to stay with you and you take it easy on me.

Simple amazng to see Angela being able to battle the fears and overcome to continue living the life of travel that her work demands.  I truly admier this resolve and determination.

Looking forward to see where else this lady will be running and I will just day dream about keeping up with her...

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, June 01, 2018

IT IS TIME TO CELEBRATE 10 YEARS of Blogging...!

Since June of 2008 I've had the honor and privilege to be doing this blog.

For 120 Months I have have been very fortunate to find people who have been willing to share their story of survival on their own words as I provided the conduit.

Just about 120 Inspiring Personal Accounts of overcvoming the challenges of blood clots and blood clotting disorders.

Just about 120 Personal Stories that have been able to make me cry, laugh, and be determined to keep on going.

Just about 120 Personal Stories that I believe are making a difference for people facing or just findining out that they will have to face the challenges of overcoming their very own blood clotting incidents.  There is hope that you can return to do whatever is you enjoy doing.  

Never I would have imagined that I would be to keep this going for 10 years.  Here is looking forward to 10 more...!

THANK YOU!

THANK YOU! 

THANK YOU to all those who have been willing to allow me to bother you so that you can share your story.  You made this happen to help others!  You are making this possible each and every month.


So... LET'S CELEBRATE!!!

As this blog has continued to develop and grow so have the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots...It is incredible to see the places the polka-dots are going taken by Clot Survivors themselves.  

Every Friday in June (Starting on 06/08) get ready to participate on the Celebration Give Away Packages that will be available for you to win.

This Celebration Give Away Packages will include some CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dot gear, ProCompression Sock Goodies (www.procompression.com), DeSoto Sports Goodies (www.desotosports.com), and some additional surprises that you will not want to miss!  I will do my best to post a preview of the upcoming Give Away Package through my twitter feed at @CLOTBUSTER stay tuned!!!

In order to participate all you need to do is send me an email to clotbusterpolkadots@gmail.com before noon of the Friday in which we will make the drawing.  *** PLEASE NOTE - Your email address will not be shared on any capacity with anyone at anytime.*** 

Thank you to my friends at ProCompression and DeSoto Sports for their support.  

Thank you to all who have helped make this blog a success.

DON'T MISS YOU CHANCE TO WIN SOME SWEET GIVE AWAY PACKAGES and Help Me Celebrate 10 Years of Blogging!

Thank you for Reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, May 04, 2018

May Athlete of the Month

Do you believe? 

Do you believe that anything is possible? 

Do you believe that anything is possible for survivors? 

Do you believe that anything is possible for BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS? 

Well... after almost 10 years of blogging about what Blood Clot Survivors CAN and ARE achieving I would say that this blog and STOPTHECLOT.org...

DO BELIEVE THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS!!!

It does not matter if it is your first race or your 100th... Just the fact that you can overcome the challenges of your blood clotting incident puts you in a category on its own.  It is not an easy road to travel but the rewards of feeling the "sweet pain of your accomplishment" are greater than anything!

DAPHNE is definitely recovering from enjoy the "sweet pain of her accomplishment"... She is back and willing to share her inspiring story with all of us.

Read on and enjoy!

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
I take a few classes at the gym at work. I enjoy running and hiking as well. Running especially is a great way for me to relax and release stress at the end of a long work day. It's a time where I can just be alone in my own head and think.

How did you get started in that sport? 
I started running several years ago to lose weight and get in shape. I really enjoyed it and saw some great results, but as time went on I got busy and started a family so running fell to the back burner and eventually I stopped it altogether. I decided in January of this year that I wanted to get back into it so in order to motivate myself I signed up for my first half marathon and started a training program.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
My latest milestone was completing my first half marathon on April 30, 2018.

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
I was diagnosed with massive bilateral pulmonary embolism on April 10th and was in the hospital until April 13th. We are fairly confident the PE resulted from a combination of birth control pills and a long flight to and from Africa at the end of March. My symptoms really started a couple weeks prior to my diagnosis when I had horrible left shoulder, chest and back pain and I couldn't take a deep breath because it hurt so bad. The day before I went to the ER I tried to jog on a treadmill at work and couldn't even jog for 1 minute because I was in so much pain and it was so hard to breathe. The next day I walked up one flight of stairs at work and thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest and again I couldn't breathe. I decided to go to my PC physician and she, after speaking to her husband who ended up being my Pulmonologist in the hospital, sent me to the ER. My Pulmonologist is fairly aggressive at treating this condition, so since I was relatively healthy otherwise he moved me to ICU for one night and gave me tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) to actively dissolve the clots. The reason for ICU is this treatment can lead to an increased risk of bleeding so I was in ICU for closer observation. The treatment worked well and I was released 2 days later with no restrictions. I was put on Eliquis and will be on it for at least 6 months at which time we will do an ultrasound on my legs and a d-Dimer test and make a decision on what to do next.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?
When I left the hospital I had no restrictions. I was just told to listen to my body. My Pulmonologist is actually the one who encouraged me to go ahead and run the half marathon I had been training for prior to my trip to Africa. My first week out of the hospital I just walked on the treadmill a couple days for 30 minutes each time. That felt good, but I was still afraid to actually run. I finally decided to try to run around my neighborhood toward the end of that first week. Once I got the courage up to go from walking to running I was surprised I felt as good as I did. I ended up running/jogging for 30 minutes less than a week after being released from the hospital. The following week I ran a couple days on the treadmill at work and then at the end of that week. Just over 2 weeks from being released I ran my half marathon. I ended up walking more than I wanted to during the race, but considering where I had been just 2 weeks prior, I was pleased with my results. I finished in 2:56:46!


What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? 
My favorite running shoes have been Brooks for several years now. I've had a few different styles and love them all!

How much are you getting out doing your sport? 
I do some form of workout at least 4 days a week. While training, I was running 3 - 4 days a week on top of my regular workout classes. Now that the race is finished I will continue to run at least a couple times a week in addition to the classes I take at the gym.

What is your favorite food? Either generally or after a workout.  
I've recently started using RX Bars and they are great! I like them for a between meal snack or after workout snack. That is also what I had for my pre-race "meal" along with a Naked Juice. 


If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
I would go back to Australia or Kenya. I've been to both and absolutely loved them, so I would love to go back...this time with compression socks and leg exercises on the plane. :)

What would you 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? Tell us about your concerns and what you look out after. 
I would tell someone going through a similar experience to trust their gut and if they think something is wrong go have it checked out. I would also say to ask your doctor about the possibility of a tPA, especially if you are healthy and strong otherwise. Once you are in recovery, do as much as you can and trust that the medicine you are taking is doing it's job to keep you safe from more clots. I believe a big factor for me being able to return to as close to normal as I can has been my faith. I have no doubt that the reason I'm still here is because God wasn't done with me yet. I just have to trust Him that He is taking care of me. I do have concerns and fears at times that the little pains I feel in my legs or in my arm or chest might be another clot, but when those fears creep up on me I just remind myself that I'm on blood thinners, it takes a little time for the clots to all dissolve completely, and God is with me. When I tell myself those things I always calm back down and can think rationally.

How cool is it that she was able to run her half-marathon so soon after her clotting incident...!

I have seen quick recoveries but this one is beyond impressive.

No question that Daphne will be out there enjoying the sweet pain of more accomplishments down the road.  Who knows maybe they will be in far away places so that she can show those clots who is the boss!!!

Anything is possible to those who believe.

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Monday, April 02, 2018

April Athlete of the Month

March Madness is over...

As you may have noticed from Twitter My March Madness is a bit different than the bracket related one... March is BLOOD CLOT AWARENESS MONTH and a time to hammer away the point that blood clots can be preventable. 

That patients need to know the signs and symptoms of blood clots so that you can take preventive measures. 

That blood clots can cause a significant impact in your life but despite the challenge you can overcome the clotting incident and return to a normal lifestyle as much as possible. 

Although March is over the work of spreading awareness, the celebration of all clot survivors, and the remembrance of those who lost along the way continues every day.

Thank you for coming along and being part of this effort!

This month we are very fortunate to have another personal account of facing the impact of blood clots and overcoming the challenges in order to return to a normal lifestyle that pushes the boundaries. 

Please allow me to introduce to you Cindy and her personal story you can read below.

THANK YOU Cindy for your willingness to share your story.  No doubt that someone out there will identify from it and find that spark that allows them to get inspired.

Read on!

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
Triathlon!  Specifically I love IRONMAN 70.3 distance although I have also completed a full 140.6 distance as well.  I enjoy triathlon for many reasons, the community, the challenge, the fact that no two races will ever be the same even if you are competing at the exact venue the race/event will always be different. The weather, training, nutrition, etc. it’s always different and trying to figure out how to “beat yesterday” is always fun to me.

How did you get started in that sport? 
Well, I have not been a lifetime athlete by any means. I started running around the age of 28 or so when a friend asked me to train with her to run and half marathon to lose her baby weight.  I was hooked on endurance sports then.  I ran several half marathons and marathons, had a baby of my own and kept running.  Then I started joining running groups when one of the coaches said “you should do a triathlon.”  I thought he was crazy, I had swam a lap in the pool since I was 17.  So, I jumped into a pool to see how far I could get and was determined to try something I had never done before.  

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did) 
I’ve competed in fourteen  IRONMAN 70.3, and one 140.6 IRONMAN events. I still run a couple of 5ks (not my favorite because they hurt to much) and just finished a half marathon at the Chattanooga Marathon Weekend a few weeks ago.  This upcoming year, I will compete in a couple of triathlons and I have started Mountain Biking too as cross training so I’m on the fence about trying out an Xterra event.

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
It was July of 2010, one month after my first sprint triathlon, and I was 35 years old when I woke up one day with a sharp pain by my left chest. I ignored it for a day but by the next day it hurt every time I inhaled so I went into the doctor and calmly explained my pain. I figured there would be some simple rational explanation for the symptom, after all I was only 35 years old and in great shape.  She asked me some questions and sent me to the hospital for a few outpatient test to rule out things. So I got an VQ test, D-Dimer blood test and a chest x-ray.  All were negative so they sent me home with the diagnosis of pneumonia and antibiotics and a few pain pills.
Middle of the night the same day I woke up with the worst pain of my life but I again just lay there thinking it was nothing.  By morning I called the doctor back and she said to go to the ER.  More tests, more questions..had I been on any long trips, and calf pain, smoker , etc.  The answers were all no so I had no known risk factors for a clot. They gave me stronger pain meds and sent me on my way saying to take it easy with the pneumonia they thought they saw on the X-ray and CT scan.  I made it two more days at home before being admitted to the hospital for what they still believe to me pneumonia.  Stayed there for a week being treated by IV antibiotics with not much help.  I was ready to get home to my 3 year old baby girl and ready to get back to my usual activities of running and biking (did I mention I was/am slightly addicted to exercise?)
I was finally released to go home to continue to heal but again the pain got much, much worse.  So I ended back up in the ER once again and after another CT this time I was admitted for a severe pulmonary embolism and lung infarction. I spent a week in the ICU this time.  They had regrettably missed the clot that entire time because I had no known risk factors and was a seemingly healthy 35 year old female. Turns out I have factor IV and that with birth control is a deadly combination. 
I remember laying in that ER when they told me and instantly wishing I could have pneumonia.
I was on lovenox injections for 8 long months. I tried Warfarin but we could never keep a consistent INR so we just went with injections.
It was a hard time…not being able to do what I loved, being scared all of the time, angry, depressed, tired.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?   
I started walking as soon as the doctor said I could, which was a few months after I went home.  I tried to run but couldn’t do it.  I would often end up crying on walks on my way home wondering if I’d ever be able to run again but also having a deep desire to not let this beat me.  I participated in my first IM 70.3 the next May, so 10 months after my pulmonary embolism. I was still scared and had plenty of false alarm visits to the ER but it felt like I got my life back that day. 


What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster Polka-dot Performance Running Shirt...
My favorite brand of triathlon clothing is Betty Designs, it’s a great brand for women only and it’s kind of this amazing tribe of women supporting other women.  And recently I ran for the first time in my Stop the Clot trucker hat and loved every mile in it.

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
exercise 5-6 days a week. Competing whenever I can fit it in. 
 
What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito
My favorite food after a long (think 3-5 hours) bike is a craft beer and burger..ok maybe 2 beers :)



If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
Next on my list of epic things to do is visit and hike the grand caynon someday.
  
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 say to reach out to people who have been through it or are going through it.  I was very isolated and didn’t find this support group until after I was back on my feet.  My heart goes out to every one that is or has dealt with DVTs. 
My advice:
Try not to let it hold you back, get back to doing whatever you can and what you enjoy. And don’t be so hard on yourself if it takes some time to get back to the “old you”…the point is that YOU CAN and YOU WILL get back.
My concerns going forward:
My risk factors are still always on my mind and I think about how to avoid future episodes, whether that’s taking lovenox when I am injured (stress fracture) or when I travel for long drive or flight, and I try to always stay hydrated.

Once again MANY THANKS Cindy for sharing your story.

I will be staying away from any races that you are doing just because I don't have any shot of stay close to make it a race.  Your story certainly can give hope to others going through their very own clotting incident.  

Anything is possible to those who believe!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

March Athlete of the Month


WELCOME TO MARCH
BLOOD CLOT AWARENESS MONTH


Let's CLIMB FOR CLOTS!
Come on and join me to make a difference.  Climb more than me in March and get your choice of a performance CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots Trucker Hat or Visor courtesy of this Clot Buster! Let's CLIMB ON!


https://secure.qgiv.com/event/climbforclots2018/

March is very special month to spread even more awareness about blood clots and blood clotting disorders.

Also March is very special because we continue to celebrate ALL BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS and remember those we lost along the way.  We should not have to EVER lose anyone so that is why this effort continues to make this condition preventable every time.

As crazy as it sounds blood clots are also linked to INSPIRATION TO OVERCOME.  This is the positive side of having blood clots.  The incredible will to beat this challenge deserves all of our admiration.  I am so lucky to have the opportunity to share these personal accounts with you every month.  Every single one of them provides me with a spark to overcome.

This month MICHELLE M. is sharing her personal experience with us.  THANK YOU Michelle for your willingness to share your story.  Your experience will resonate with someone who is need of answers and guidance.  Every word below has the power to provide someone that spark that can and will provide hope to get them through the challenges of a clotting incident.  READ ON...

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
How did you get started in that sport?
This has changed back and forth between my “story” and an injury, but it has always been running.  I have always struggled with my weight and after the birth of both my children it became clear that I needed more than just nutrition.  I started taking a spin class at my gym and learned that I really liked it.  The rush was like no other and the calorie burn was amazing.  That obsession grew.  Within a few months I was starting to run short distances on the treadmill and learning that running was an even bigger “high” for me than spinning.  It didn’t take me long to begin racing.  I started out with a biathlon, a few 5k’s and then it grew from there.  I also fell in love with trail running.  I wasn’t very fast but being able to conquer the trails and terrain was a bigger accomplishment for me than the actual speed.  Before I knew it, I had signed up for my first marathon.  I would plan family camping trips around races and they were extremely supportive of my passion.  I was a runner and enjoyed my time alone and strength that it gave me.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
Well, this has been altered due to my health issues.  I had major hip surgery in September 2017 and was told I should NOT run again until I have a full hip replacement (hopefully in 7 years).  My hip has never been shaped “normal” due to being born with some dysplasia but running on it like I did created even more issues.  So, today 4 months post major hip surgery, my accomplishment is making it to spin class 2 times a week and hoping to sneak in an extra from time to time.  

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
No one’s clotting episode is “normal” now that I have learned about PE’s and mine was far from the normal.  I had suffered for about 18 months with abdominal pain.  I took many trips to the doctor, ER, urgent care, etc.  I had been tested for gallbladder issues (which they ultimately removed), possible appendix attacks, and the list goes on.  I had been pushed around, looked at like a drug user just looking to get pain pills, but never got any answers.  Finally, in May of 2016, I went into the ER for severe pain and they found a large fibroid had formed on my uterus.  I followed up with the OB/GYN and was on the operating table less than 30 days later.  Due to the size of the fibroid, I would have to have a full cut abdominal hysterectomy.  This was considered a major surgery and would be about an 6-8-week recovery.  I had the surgery, all was fine, uterus was removed, and the healing began.  About 10 days post op, I woke up and felt like I was getting a cold or the flu.  I was achy, clammy and just felt off.  I went in to see my doctor and he said not to worry, it was probably just a virus and it would pass.  Day by day, the aches got worse, I could barely get up from the couch.  I hurt from the tips of my toes to the top of my head.  I went to see my general practitioner and told him how I felt.  He advised me that I had had major surgery, and this was just a part of the recovery.  I explained I felt different, but I really couldn’t pin point what that feeling was.  During the exam, the doctor noted a dry cough.  In addition to lab work, he ordered a chest x-ray to make sure the cough wasn’t anything serious.

I wasn’t home from this appointment for more than an hour and the nurse called and said I had pneumonia and the doctor would be treating me with antibiotics and steroids.  I was blown away.  I didn’t have any true symptoms of pneumonia.  How could this be?  The next morning, it was a Saturday, my doctor called me.  This seemed odd because number 1 it was a Saturday morning and 2 he NEVER calls himself.  He explained that the x-ray found a spot on my right lung and even though they were not 100% sure it looked to be pneumonia and I should start that treatment, which I did. He also mentioned that my blood work showed some elevated numbers but was very vague about those and didn’t provide a lot of details.  Everything was blown off to being a part of the recovery process. 

By Sunday, I felt great!  My aches were minimal, I had energy again and even threw an impromptu pool party.  I was finally getting better and was ecstatic.  That feeling lasted until Tuesday morning and then I hit a wall again (the steroids had worn off).  The aches, the lethargy and just plain feeling of being “off” had returned.  I called the doctor and he once again, blew me off.  He told me I needed to see a specialist because I probably had the onset of arthritis. 

By Tuesday afternoon, I was in tears and felt lost.  Was I losing my mind?  What was wrong with me? I called a patient rep at our local health system and asked for help.  She couldn’t do anything but sympathize with my “pain”.  By Wednesday morning I called my OBGYN and learned he was on vacation.  Finally, after getting to his nurse, I spoke with another OBGYN and he explained that it sounded like my pneumonia had gotten bad and I probably needed to be admitted.  He got me into see a pulmonary doctor that afternoon (which was a miracle). 

The pulmonary doctor was very thorough and I really thought this was just another blow off.  I took my mom with me as my husband was at work and it didn’t take long to see the x-ray up on the screen and him to explain that he was convinced it was something more.  He sent me to the hospital where I learned very quickly that the CT Scan had discovered multiple clots in both lungs and a large infarction on my right lung along with pleurisy.  I was admitted immediately.

After a whirlwind admittance, a lot of doctors and a lot of nurses it was decided that because I was just about 4 weeks post op with a large abdominal incision, choosing the right thinner was imperative.  I was put on Eliquis due to its mild side affects and hopes that there would be less chance of bleeding issues.  I left the hospital 2 days later, lost, confused and angry.  Why had this happened to me and how do I move on?  No one could explain how it happened, why it happened and why it took so long to find. I had lost all faith in medicine and didn’t know which way o turn. I was instructed to stay on Eliquis for 6 months, be checked by my GP and good luck!

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?  
The first few weeks after my PE diagnosis, it took everything I had to just walk around the block.  Living in the Midwest and it being July, the humidity played havoc on my healing lungs, so my process was slow. I was out of work a complete 12 weeks due to healing of both the hysterectomy and the PE’s.  By fall I was ready to run.  That first run, I laughed, and I cried.  It felt amazing and I had a feeling of being blessed to just be alive and able to get back to my sport.  

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…
Today my favorite piece of gear is my polka dot running shirt paired with my old (and falling apart) Under Armor capris running tights and my spin shoes.  

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week)
Part of my PE recovery included learning the condition of my hip and the limitations that were included in that so, I have had to rediscover my passion for biking to preserve my hip.  Right now, I’m at the gym 2 – 3 times a week attending a spin class and strengthening my hip.  

What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
My favorite food is pizza.  I love pizza in all its many forms.  My favorite is fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella but am learning to make my own cauliflower crusts and use my own ingredients.  It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting close to perfecting my process.  Add some homemade sauce and a nice glass of red wine and I’m a happy camper.

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
I’m not a big traveler, but if I could go anywhere internationally it would be Italy.  Pizza and wine 😊 

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 I could tell anyone anything about my clotting episode is find a solid support system and depend on it.  If I didn’t have my husband and my mom to lean on, I’m not sure where I would be.  This is a disorder that is hard for others to understand because you cannot “see it” by looking at someone.  If you are lucky enough to survive the clots, find a way to embrace that.  There will be a number of “after effects” that follow and I’m about 18 months into my recovery and I still have a lot to learn.  I have learned that many of the issues I am facing are related to what is called PTSD.  I didn’t get in a terrible accident, I didn’t fight in combat, but I have been diagnosed with a disorder that will forever live within my subconscious and some days it haunts me more than others.  Physically, I’m clear of clots.  My lungs are healed and there was never a specific place identified that the clot came from. I’m still working through the mental side of things and I don’t think I will ever be 100% but I can tell you that I wake up every day and hope that I can help one person get through their day as a survivor.  This is a condition that I do not wish upon anyone but today as I write this, I am a changed person and although some days I don’t like that person, other days I am so very proud of the obstacles I have overcome, and I cannot wait to see who I will become.

We are all looking forward to see who you will become Michelle as you continue to navigate the challenges of the survival from your clotting incident.  Never Stop trying to overcome.  I am looking forward some day to share in a slice (or two or there... in case you did not know I can eat...) of your home made pizza pie!  I will be sure to bring the best vino I can get my hands on...

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Saturday, February 03, 2018

February Athlete of the Month

Here we go into the second month of the year and the cold still around.

The struggle for me continues but I must overcome as many people is doing right now... I hear you..."Suck it cup-cake!"

For sure Blood Clots Survivors overcome challenges everyday more than you can imagine.  Their inspiration and example is with me everyday.  As we continue to progress in 2018 and we approach March which BLOOD CLOT AWARENESS MONTH I wanted to draw your attention to the following event for your consideration.  Please check out the link below and if you have it in you please plan on participating and let's see who can climb the most...I hope to get my climbing legs going against yours!



https://secure.qgiv.com/event/climbforclots2018/

From the STOPTHECLOT.org website I found the story I am featuring below as a personal experience story that brings with it a message of awareness that we should all take the time to read.  Thank You Cristal for sharing your story which can and will provide guidance to others trying to figure out the challenges of their own clotting incident.

My Strained Muscle was a Blood Clot: Cristal’s Story

I am a female, in my mid-twenties, and I am very active. I experienced calf pain for about two weeks, which I attributed to a strain from uphill running, and other cardiovascular and weight lifting workouts. Towards the end of two weeks, the pain in my right calf was to the point where I couldn’t ignore it, and I found myself trying to prop my leg up under my desk. The pain was worse when I was sitting down, and it felt better when I started to run. I decided to pop into a nearby physical therapist’s office. I explained my symptoms, and the doctor recommended a few stretches. In hindsight, I did not experience what I would call typical symptoms of a blood clot. My leg pain wasn’t excruciating, but more of an annoyance, and I didn’t have any redness or swelling.
One morning, after a run, I sat down at my desk and noticed my back had a dull ache near the middle and right side of my spine. I thought I needed to drink more water. The pain gradually worsened throughout the day. By the end of the day, I decided to cancel my afternoon plans, and go lie down. By 8:00 p.m. my back pain had reached noticeable discomfort. By 10:00 p.m., I realized I was altering my breathing to not have to take full, deep, breaths, which were painful. I decided it was time to go to the ER. Going to the emergency room was not my usual reaction, and even though I still didn’t except anything serious, I figured if it hurt to breathe, it was better to err on the side of caution and get it checked out.
Once the doctor in the ER examined me, it was determined that I had a strained muscle from my workouts, and the discharge process was started. I’m not a dramatic person, but I know my pain tolerance is high enough to handle a pulled muscle, and I knew that wasn’t what I was experiencing. Thank God I pushed back on the ER doctor, and asked to speak to her boss.
A second doctor came in and said if we wanted to err on the side of caution, we could do a D-dimer blood test to check for increased clotting factors in my blood. I hate needles, but I knew at least my peace of mind would be worth taking the test. Shortly after the test, the doctor came in and said they suspected a blood clot, and I was taken for an immediate CT scan. The scan showed I had not one, but two massive clots in both my right and left lungs.
They suspected the pain in my calf was a DVT that travelled up my right leg, and split into both my right and left lung. The situation changed immediately, and I was told to minimize my movements, when just 12 hours ago I was in the middle of running five miles. Now, I was being told that I couldn’t even walk down the hall to go to the bathroom. The doctors brought me up to the intensive care unity (ICU) and started me on a heparin drip. That night they discharged me with a prescription for a new oral anticoagulant, which worked very well for me.
After the fact, we did several blood tests to determine the suspected cause of the clot. I had not traveled or had a recent surgery, and I do not remain stationary for long periods of the day. I am young, active, and healthy. I did not test positive for any genetic causes, and my family does not have a history of clots. I was on estrogen-based birth control pills for 8-10 years without any prior issues, but given that my particular birth control has been linked to blood clots, I determined that this was most likely the cause. My hematologist was adamant I never get back on a birth control containing estrogen.
After my experience, I called the physical therapist who first examined me, to let him know what happened, in hopes that he can help someone else in the future. I’m so thankful I listened to my body, when I knew something was off. I’m also very thankful to have stood up for myself and questioned the ER doctors about my situation. I hope my experience can help others.
BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING!
Cristal is overcoming the challenges and so can you.
Never stop trying.
I will see you out there in the CLOT BUSTER #STOPTHECLOT polka-dots spreading awareness and celebrating all blood clot survivors. 
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