Tuesday, October 02, 2018
As the months continue to pass us by I am more and more inspired to post about all of these personal experiences that can make a difference for individuals facing the challenges of their own blood clotting episodes.
10 years and counting... Not planning on stopping any time soon... and I hope that you don't plan on stop reading either...
From September's Athlete of the Month Thomas we will get to learn about another THOMAS with a unique story and willingness to overcome the challenges of blood clots to the point in which he is about to take on an even bigger challenge in the coming weeks. Read on to find out what this challenge is and about his story of survival...
*** What is you sport/activity of choice?
So my activity of choice used to be running! It was how I started in endurance sports. Today I would have say cycling, because of the lower stress impact, I can do it longer without feeling as sore afterwards.
*** How did you get started in that sport?
I started running because a friend and neighbor began running up & down the street in 2012. I remembered running when I was in high school, but knew I couldn't run a single mile now if my life depended on it! I was overweight, had a horrible diet of junk food, etc. I am a local truck driver, and did nothing but sit and drive all day, and sit around the house. I kept buying bigger clothes. Finally joined a local gym & started running. (many, many setbacks along the way),
*** What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
Fast forward 6 years, and I'm currently only 6 weeks away from competing in my 1st full Ironman triathlon! 140.6 miles. I never would of believed I would be where I am just a few years ago! Crazy!
*** Tells about your clotting episode. Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
Earlier this year in April I began having a pain in my side when I would lie down at night. Figuring it would go away, I ignored it for a few days. It was keeping me up most the night, so I finally went to Urgent Care. They didn't open till 8am, so I did a 90 minute cycling ride on my trainer at home before I went! Urgent Care took x-rays, and told me I had pneumonia because there was fluid in my lungs! I thought this was odd, and I told the Dr about my workouts, and that I wasn't sick. I explained that I had planned on doing a long run later that day. She left the room & came back and told me that she insisted I go to the emergency room and get further testing because something was wrong. Reluctantly I agreed, still thinking it was nothing. I did feel tired a lot lately, and my run workouts weren't very good. A few days earlier I had went to the park to run & ended up taking a nap in my car first. Then I only ran half of what I planned, but figured I was just having a bad training day. So at the hospital, they run some tests and body scans. They came back with the results of multiple pulmonary embolism in both lungs! I was being admitted. I really had no idea, and I never felt sick! Thinking back, I did have a swollen vein in my leg that was a little uncomfortable. I have vericose veins too, so I didn't think much of it. They kept me for a couple days for observation & testing. They couldn't find any more existing clots. They prescribed blood thinners (Eliquis) and said I wasn't under any restrictions, just to be careful while taking the blood thinners.
*** When were you able to get back into your activity? How did it feel that first time?
I started back into exercise after I got home from the hospital. Really I was lucky I guess. Because I didn't have any existing clots. My biggest concern was crashing on the bike, taking the blood thinners.
*** What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity?
Favorite piece of gear would have to be my tri bike! I just bought a new Trek Speed Concept. It was April and outdoor riding season was just beginning!
*** How much are you getting out doing your sport?
Right now I'm training about 15 hours a week because of the upcoming Ironman. Normally I get around 10 hours a week. I don't have time for much more than that with my job and family. I bike 3 days a week, run 3 days a week and swim 2 days a week.
*** What is your favorite food?
I eat a lot of salads! I make them lots of different ways and have gotten really good at making them. I really enjoy them! I put things like chicken, fruit, nuts, eggs, seeds in them along with variety of veggies. I eat a lot of Salmon & Chicken and I love dark chocolate.
My vices are pretzels and animal crackers! My kids laugh at me because I am always snacking on animal crackers.
*** If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
I've never been out West. I would love to take a trip to Colorado sometime and visit some of the National Parks.
*** 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?
It turns out that my doctor told me I would have to stay on blood thinners for life because I carry a genetic gene that makes me more likely to get clots. It doesn't matter how fit you are, it depends how "sticky" your blood is. How likely your blood will form a clot. So it doesn't really matter how fit you are, blood clots can affect anyone. Actually in my case, the Dr said that my fitness contributed to them! Because I would run in the morning then get to work and sit all day, the blood in my legs wasn't getting circulation. Also, because of my fitness, I have a low resting heart rate and low blood pressure. This is bad for blood clot disorder because my heart is pumping less volume. That means blood isn't circulating as fast, and it is even more likely to clot.
Awareness is key! Now I wear compression sleeves at work and I'm always aware to keep my legs moving every little bit.
The way I understand it is that blood will move through the veins. Blood can sometimes stick to the wall of the vein. More blood comes along and sticks, then you get that snowball effect. The blood thinners help to keep the blood thinner and less likely to stick to the wall of the vein or artery.
Circulation is important!
The real problem is when that clot breaks loose. I was lucky and it didn't travel to my brain. That's very dangerous!
Preventing new clots from forming is obviously very important. It can be done with awareness and medicine.
It shouldn't limit you to do what you can do. Doctors advised me that road cycling is dangerous because of the blood thinners, and I now wear an ID bracelet stating that I'm on Eliquis. I haven't let that stop me from pursuing my goals and what I enjoy!
Many thanks again Thomas for your willingness to share your story with all of us.
BEST OF LUCK in your upcoming Ironman race. That sure is a challenge that you will overcome just like you did with your blood clotting episode. I have never been able to do one but I hope to hear of your success coming up soon. Make sure you get to take your CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots to celebrate that YOU CAN!
Never Stop going forward and pushing those limits to the best of your abilities.
Thank you for reading,
The Clot Buster