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Saturday, November 30, 2019

December Athlete of the Month

Although we have reached December I am still THANKFUL for an incredible year in 2019.

Without a question I am incredibly lucky to have had the chance to meet many individuals who happen to be blood clot survivors. Every single one of their stories are incredible and very much inspiring.  There is so much to learn from every story that can make a positive impact on our daily lives.

The more I learn about the journey that each survivor has gone through the more I believe that BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING.  Every accomplishment is meaningful and should be celebrated.

As we close out the year we have the opportunity to read about a blood clot survivor with a story that you don't want to miss.

I am very Thankful that THOMAS has been willing to share his story with all of us.

The story Thomas shares here will leave you thinking about one of my favorite phrases "Anything is possible to those who believe."

Read on and Get Inspired!

  1. What is your sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
My sport of choice is mostly running, although I enjoy heavy weight lifting as part of my running training. I love running because I’ve been around it all my life. With a track and cross country coach as a father I basically grew up at cross country/track practice. It’s always been my sport, I coach it, I ran all through high school, 2 years in college, and after a brief phase of being a bit burned out on running, I came back to it as a recreational runner. It has been my life as long as I can remember. As much as I love running there are definitely days where it’s more of a love/hate relationship but that happens with things you’re passionate about. Also, I’ve had attention problems all my life so it has always been good to have some alone time with my thoughts.


  1. How did you get started in that sport? 
Besides growing up around it as mentioned above, the first time I realized I enjoyed running was during the mile run in 3rd grade PE. I got 3rd that day and while I enjoyed numerous sports through middle school, running was always king. I actually started focusing on running because I got annoyed with all the other sports I played using it as a punishment.

  1. What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve? (Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did) 
I ran the NYC Marathon under a fundraising bib for the National Blood Clot Alliance. It was actually a pretty rough day for me, I just didn’t feel right out of the gate and was about 50 minutes off the time I felt I was capable of during my training. However, I was super proud of my training leading up to the marathon and had some awesome workouts leading up to it. I was really proud of my final workouts where I covered ~18 miles at a pretty strong pace. I’m probably going to focus on some half marathons and the 10k for a bit. I enjoy marathon training a lot but I’m just not a fan of a race as long as the marathon where so much can go wrong. My best event was always the 800m so the marathon is obviously quite far away from that.

  1. Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
My clotting episode started on Sunday 10/21/2018 which was the week of the Cross-Country Regional Championships. I woke up feeling a cramping feeling in my rib cage and upper back. I had done an upper body circuit on that Friday and a hard workout with my team that Saturday. After hard workouts I would often get a lot of soreness in my upper back because my posture is not the greatest, but the ribcage soreness was new. I chalked it up to delayed onset muscle soreness from the upper body circuit and spent the morning with my foam roller rolling the upper back because that’s the attachment point for your many of the muscles in the rib cage. That Monday the pain went from cramping to stabbing. My fried had popped my back the day before and I thought he had done so in a way that had broken a rib or damaged the cartilage in my ribs or something similar. I felt pretty terrible but I thought it was just soreness from an injury. I missed my day job that day because I was feeling rough, but I actually went to cross country practice and ran a set of sprints with my team that day… That Tuesday I woke up and it had gotten worse. I told myself that if it didn’t get better by the next day I would go to the hospital. My coworkers, my wife and the nurses she works with all tried to tell me to go but I wouldn’t listen because I was more concerned about my insurance deductible. I went to practice that Tuesday but didn’t run because I was feeling too rough. We had a team dinner after practice and it was on the drive there that I realized I was in serious shape. Just driving my car was the most intense pain I have ever experienced in my life. The dinner was at my parent’s house and when I got there I told my mom that something was really wrong and I needed her to drive me to urgent care. She drove me to urgent care; I explained my symptoms and they said I needed to go to the ER. I was admitted faster than I had ever gotten into the ER, but after that it felt like I was met with skepticism. Maybe they thought I wanted opioids but it felt like they doubted how much pain I was in. It didn’t hurt more when they pressed on my ribs, my chest x-ray was clear. If it wasn’t for my blood test I think I would have been sent home with anti-inflammatories. They said my D-Dimer was high and that could indicate a blood clot so they ordered a CT scan. They ran the CT scan and it came back that I had a pulmonary embolism. It was just recently that I had read about athletes like Chris Bosh and Serena Williams having clotting episodes. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. They told me I would be put on Eliquis and sent home which caught me off guard because I thought I would have to be admitted to the hospital.  The NP explained that blood clot treatment has come a long way and that since I didn’t have a fever and my pulse oxygen and heart rate were good I didn’t have to be admitted. I was sent home that night but I couldn’t lie down without pain and had to sleep in quite possibly the most uncomfortable position on my couch for the next few weeks. It was uncomfortable but any other position felt like I was being simultaneously stabbed and smothered. I was also told no running for the near future which was extremely depressing considering I was in REALLY good shape at the time. All I wanted to do was go on a run and sleep in the same bed as my wife but I was basically stuck on the couch. It’s wild to me how serious my situation was at the time but how long I waited to go to the hospital. I consider myself extremely fortunate that my clot was not more serious or I might not be alive right now. However, with so many of my symptoms mirroring sports injuries/soreness it makes me fear that this could happen to many athletes. My clot was considered unprovoked meaning it did not start as a DVT but based on what I have read about DVT symptoms there’s a very real possibility I would have just tried using my foam roller thinking it was a sore muscle. Since my PE was unprovoked, I’m on Eliquis indefinitely. I started on 5mg twice a day for 6 months, now I’m on a maintience dose of 2.5mg twice a day. My wife was a rock star through this whole episode. She’s been my rock and I don’t think I would still be here without her.



  1. When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?
I was cleared to run again 2 weeks after my PE. I was told that I could basically do as much as my body would allow. The first run back was humbling. It felt like running a 5k even though I was basically jogging and my lungs hurt the whole time. As I got more and more back into it, my body and legs felt like they could do more but like there was a road block in my lungs keeping me from going faster. My muscles felt like they were out for a jog while my breathing felt like I was sprinting. It was very frustrating.

  1. What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster's Running Polka-Dot Technical Shirt...)
My favorite piece of gear is my Clot Busters hat. I’ve always been a hat person and would run in a different hat every day. Ever since my PE I haven’t worn another hat for a run and it’s really the only hat I wear.

  1. How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
I’ve been getting out running about 4-6 days a week. Some days I was running 15 miles a day split between two runs during my marathon build up.

  1. What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
Favorite food would definitely have to be cereal. I could probably eat cereal 3 meals a day (and probably did in college).

  1. If you could go someplace to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
My wife and I have a bucket list with a couple of places we would like to visit. Ireland and Italy are the big ones I’ve never been to and I would like to go back to Australia again at some point in my life. I went there in high school and really want to go back again now that I’m an adult. Ireland is definitely a big one though since that’s where my family came from. With a last name like McDonough I really want to make it there at some point.

  1. 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.
Number one thing I learned was to be kind to yourself and look at your fitness and recovery as a blank slate. It felt like my PE wiped a lifetime of fitness away and if I had tried to judge myself based on what I was able to do before I would have given up. Remember that there are good days and bad days. Even things like the weather affect me in ways I didn’t have to think about before. I ran a race in the humidity and it wrecked me, I almost dropped out, but I refused to give up while wearing the polka dots. I found the Clot Busters the night I was diagnosed with my PE and being a part of a team has pushed me in my recovery. I try not to stress about my situation too much but it does freak me out a bit when I get the slightest pain in my chest.

So glad that Thomas did end up going to the ER when the symptoms of his clotting incident got too evident and painful.

I got the chance to meet Tom right before the NYC Marathon and I hope that our paths can come cross soon enough so that we can run together.  No chance that I can match his pace but hopefully we will be running in the polka-dots so that I can spot him from the distance.

Remember... ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

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My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!
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