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Thursday, August 09, 2018

August Athlete of the Month

Who doesn't like the heat of summer? 

These are the days in which I want to do nothing else but to be outside playing... 

There is so much more to do than just sitting in an office.  

Therefore don't mind me if I am never available for lunch during the summer months... I need the fresh air for sure.  Breakfast meetings can be a nice alternate option... Not sure how this will fly but you never know until you try...

Speaking of trying.

How about trying to overcome the challenges caused by blood clots? 

How about trynig return to do the sport or sports you enjoy after surviving your blood clotting incident? 

How about trying to spread awareaness and celebrating that YOU CAN DO ANYTHING with the help of the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots for added inspiiration? 

Well our August Athlete of the Month SAM certainly IS TRYING TO OVERCOME.

Read on to find out more about her story...

"In Nov 2016, I had very unexpected Pulmonary Embolism at age 27. I spent 4 days in the hospital and couldn't work for two weeks. Breathing was a nightmare, and my doctors told me to expect shortness of breath and fatigue for 6 months to a year. This was confirmed by the many many personal stories I read from survivors. I was crushed and completely heartbroken. I felt like my world was caving in on me. I pride myself in being able to push my body to new limits and I was now facing up to a year of dealing with the side effects of this. I had very little hope and there were some seriously bad days. I wanted to just give up.

Just before the new year of 2017 (under doctor supervision), I started some light cardio on a recumbent bike and it felt okay. I slowly progressed to some very slow jogging on the treadmill. My back was still iffy (I ruptured a lumbar disc in August 2017 which brought my previous marathon training to a screeching halt) so my doctor wanted me to stay off the concrete for awhile. January 1 of 2017 I ran a grudgingly slow 2 miles on the treadmill. My lungs had a hard time keeping up, but really it wasn't so bad. The next day I ran 1.5 miles. I physically couldn't make it to two. I felt like a broken shell of who I was.  But I still kept at it. My doctor told me to keep a close eye on my heart and lungs, but they got stronger every day. After 8 weeks, I barely felt any adverse effects. I kept at it. A friend suggested I set a goal for the year to keep me motivated and we decided we each wanted to run 1000 miles in 2017. We kept going, and things got easier. It wasn't long until I was running 4 to 5 miles at a time. Running gave me purpose again. I started to feel like myself for the first time in a really long time. We ran a few races and I told myself if I still felt good come June, I'd try marathon training again. After everything I had been through, it seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream.

Until the day it wasn't. I seriously busted my ass. I stuck to the program (Hanson's Marathon Method), and I made it work. Between the stupid hot/humid weather we had that summer, and working pretty long hours at times, I still can't believe I got it done. I passed my 1000 mile mark in mid August and I couldn't believe it. I even PR'ed my 5k during training - something I had definitely resigned being able to do that year.  Some runs sucked, some weren't too bad. I still enjoyed every minute. I was so excited that I got to share my story, a story that might give others hope if they end up in a situation like mine. I know reading something like this could have been a game changer for me 18 months ago.

I ran my first marathon on October 7, 2017. Less than a year post-PE.  I was told I could feel like hell for up to a year following the PE, but in less than that time I trained for and ran a MARATHON. I think back to that day where I couldn't even make it to two miles, it didn'teveb seem real. I may have had some setbacks and devastation along the way, but this journey has been nothing short of incredible.
I ran the Sleeping Bear Dunes Marathon in northern Michigan (with some seriously tough hills!) with a finishing time of 3:45:41.

Unfortunately I had some back issues over the winter again so my running was slow the first few months of this year, but I am back at it strong now and although I don't feel totally ready for a another full, I'm excited to run the Detroit International Half this October and fundraise in the process!

I look forward to supporting Team Stop the Clot! It's great to see so many strong survivors :)"

THANK YOU Sam for your willingness to share you story.

THANK YOU for your willingness help with your fundraising efforts.  You are making a difference not only with the fundraising aspect but also the inspiration aspect of the equation.

I can't wait to see your success during your upcomig half-marathon.

Never Stop!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Monday, July 16, 2018

July Athlete of the Month

Here is to the start of the next 10 years of blogging about Blood Clot Survivors and their respective Inspiring stories of overcoming the challenges of their blood clotting incidents.

Every story is different.

Every story is unique.

Every story is full of Inspiration, Dedication, and Desire to return to normal.

Every story keeps me going to wear the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots whenever possible so that we continue to CREATE AWARENESS and also CELEBRATE ALL BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS!

THANK YOU to Blood Clot Survivor MICHAEL for his willingness to share his story as he continues to break down the barriers of the challenges the blood clotting incident has caused for him.  Read on to learn about this story and how he is overcoming...

*** What is you sport/activity of choice? 
Cycling, Running, and Swimming! Why do you enjoy it? I love ENDURANCE sporting activities!

*** How did you get started in that sport? 
Initially Mountain Biking, then after my clotting episode and subsequent diagnosis I transitioned to Gravel/Road Cycling, Running, and Swimming.

*** What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
Tulsa Tough Gran Fondo 102.7 miles - May 2018, Topeka Tinman Olympic Triathlon - June 2017, and Ouachita Switchbacks 25K Trail Run - January 2016 & 2018 Ouachita Switchbacks is Oklahoma's toughest trail run & technically it is 17.4 miles and has over 3,700 feet of elevation gain! My goal before the end of 2018 is a 50K Trail Run! (If I can find the time to fit the training mileage in)

*** Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
My clot story is pretty weird and occurred two weeks after my 40th Birthday. I developed unprovoked DVT and PE in late December of 2014. I thought I developed a muscle cramp after an easy 4 mile run. The cramp persisted in my left calf for 8 to 10 days and wouldn’t go away. At the time, I was working in cardiology office. I requested one of my coworkers to ultrasound my left calf and tell me I don’t have a DVT. She replied, “you’re too active and healthy to have a blood clot!”  She scanned my left calf and to her surprise, I had a clot in my left calf. After additional blood tests, X-rays, CT scan, etc. I was diagnosed with bilateral DVT and bilateral PE.

My hematologist diagnosed me with prothrombin 20210 heterozygous A. I’ve been on an anticoagulant (Eliquis) for three years. Initially, my hematologist informed me no more cycling. I replied back, “you mean no more mountain biking?” He replied back no more cycling. This was extremely devastating news to me. Even more devastating than the initial diagnosis!  After much thought, prayer, and talking with my wife we decided that yes I should give up mountain biking, but I would continue to ride my road bike and gravel bike once it was safe for me to resume activities.  I was encouraged not to run for at least two months, but got back on the bike after about two months or so and it felt great!  I’ve been actively running, cycling and occasionally swimming since my diagnosis, but with a greater level of awareness. I continue to enjoy what I do even with my diagnosis. I now even ride with my hematologist; who has also become a good friend of mine as well as a great cycling and running partner.
*** When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time? 
My cardiologist and hematologist encouraged me to lay off(running) for at least three months, but I resumed cycling after two and a half months. I WAS SO READY TO GET BACK! IT FELT GREAT!!!

*** What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? 
I love my "new to me"2016 Specialized Venge Pro paired with my Clot Buster Cycling Jersey!

*** How much are you getting out doing your sport?
I attempt to ride three days a week, run three days a week and swim two days a week! I know that 3 + 3 + 2 = 8, but I double up on some days!!!

*** What is your favorite food? 
We have the best little restaurant called "Frank and Lola's" here in Bartlesville and everything there is my favorite! I especially enjoy the weekend dinner specials, or any of the amazing homemade soups!

*** If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
Definitely would be a summer vacation to Colorado with my family to hike and explore!

*** 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? 
I would encourage them to hang in there and to not get too discouraged.  Being diagnosed or labeled with a clotting disorder can be very scary initially, but the good news is that we now have some great medications to control the disorder with very minimal side effects.  Develop a good relationship with your physician, become aware of the signs and symptoms, and get out there! Enjoy the ride!!!

Someday I hope to be able to take my CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots riding with Michael and keep up as best as I can.  After the ride for sure a trip to "Frank and Lola's" where I will gladly pay for holding him back...

No question that blood clots will be slowing down this blood clot survivor which is inspiring to all of us!

Thank you for reading!

The Clot Buster

Monday, June 25, 2018

10 Years of CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dot Evolution

As the CLOT BUSTER Athlete of the Month posts evolved over the years so did the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots.

Here is a look back at the evolution.  It is pretty cool to look back and see...Enjoy !

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...


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


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 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.


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 (, DeSoto Sports Goodies (, 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 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.


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


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 

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