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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 95th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 95th Triathlon Finish !!!