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Wednesday, April 01, 2020

April Athlete of the Month

Here is hoping that this post finds you well.

For sure this is a challenging time for all of us.

It is hard to comprehend the magnitude of what we are going through and attempt to find some normalcy on our new collective normal.

It is scary.

But the sun will come out tomorrow with a new day and new possibilities.  

One way or another we will find a way out.


In an attempt to find some of that normalcy I just mentioned this month's CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot Athlete of the Month is a good one.

We are very lucky to have PAUL be willing to share his story with us.  We never had anything like this on this blog over the 10 years of sharing stories.  Without a question Paul is involved with an unique sport, which I very much admire. 

There is no question in mind that BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING!!!

Read on and be inspired...

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?  *   My favorite sport to compete in and to watch is winter biathlon, which combines cross country skiing and rifle marksmanship.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to compete in North America, Europe and Scandinavia over the past 10 years.  If you’ve watched the sport during the Winter Olympics, I can tell you that it is definitely harder than it looks!  To stay fit in the summer, I enjoy iron distance triathlon and am currently preparing for Ironman Wisconsin 70.3.  What I enjoy about these two (or 5) activities is challenges that come with preparing for the variations in disciplines

How did you get started in that sport?  *   I’ve tried virtually every sport until I found something that I really enjoyed and felt competent enough to be competitive.  Living in Minnesota, I cross country skied in high school and college with moderate success.  The shooting aspect came later in life after I made a ridiculous proclamation while watching the Winter Olympics that “I think I could do that, it doesn’t look that hard”.  Those I said it to challenged me to follow give it a try, and that is how it began.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did)
  *   I competed in the World Masters Games in Innsbruck, Austria this past January.  Unfortunately my results were less than stellar as I ran into some unbelievable logistics challenges in getting a rifle from the US to Austria.  Too much energy was spent over the period of too many days!  Right now we are in the midst of battling the coronavirus so in the short term training is on pause.  According to the documentation that I am seeing, blood thinners put me in the “high risk” category so getting too run down seems like a bad option for me.

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
 *   In January of 2017, my dad was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota getting cancer treatment.  While he was resting, I would head out and ski on the local trails.  I noticed a sharp pain near my left shoulder and wrote it off as a pulled muscle.  I went to urgent care that afternoon and was prescribed some anti-inflammatory meds.  That same evening, the pain became intense and I went to the ER.  A heavy dose of morphine was administered to take away the pain.  I was able to sleep through the night, and the next day felt better.  After a day of normal activity, including 2 hours of skiing alone in the woods, I laid down for the night and the pain came back.  I wrote it off as sleeping wrong the night before.  That night, I woke to not being able to breath.  My initial thought was “so this is how it ends”.  An ambulance was called and I was taken to Mayo by ambulance.  The D-dimer test in the ER revealed clotting.  I was admitted to St Mary’s hospital where I spent the next 6 days being given Lovenox injections and under the haze of narcotics that kept the pain down.  Up until this time, I had no idea what Pulmonary Embolism was.  The real wake up call came when I returned home, and had my first follow up with my local doctor.  He and I have typically have very light conversations, but not this time.  He walked in with a thick folder of papers and a very serious look on his face.  His opening words were “You are lucky to be alive”.  He went over my results, including my CT scan where we stopped counting the clots when we reached 13 clots.  I spent the next 6 weeks at home and a couple times each week felt a peculiar pain in my chest and immediately headed to the ER.  Sometimes we would go in and sometimes wait in the parking lot and see what happened.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?
 *   At 4 weeks post PE I started to walk on the treadmill.  My first walk I had a nurse by my side.  PE’s can really get into your head and there were feelings of fear, panic and guilt that seemed to be constant.  Once I started to work out again, the fatigue was at levels I had not experienced before.  I would go for a 3 mile run and then sleep for the next 14 hours.  My longest continuous sleep was 16 hours.  Most of my training was done in my home gym as I didn’t want to get out on the trails or road and have an incident.  Throughout the process, I became a student of clotting.  I would read everything that I could find to understand what my body and mind where going through.  I made a decision to stay on coumadin potentially forever, even though testing revealed that I have no preexisting conditions that make it likely I will ever have another clot.  6 month post PE, I completed a sprint triathlon, which was like winning an Olympic medal.

What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? 
  *   For my first triathlon post PE, I think my family bought Roland’s entire stock of polka dot shirts!

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  
  *   I am back to where I was, doing approximately 15 hours per week at 6 days per week.  The long day is in the 4 hour range.

What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  
  *   I have never met a cookie that I did not like.  Frozen cookies are my favorite followed by cookies right out of the oven.

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
 *   I have been extremely fortunate that my job has allowed me to travel the last 20 years.  Nice, France is probably my most favorite place as the southern coast of France offers great cycling opportunities along the shoreline or into the Alpes.  Finland is my favorite place to cross country ski as it is such a big part of their culture.

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

 *   Be patient!  Read all you can about clots.  The medical profession does a wonderful job of helping, make sure you share with them everything that you possibly can.  Listen to your body, it knows what it needs.

How cool is this? 

The Biathlon from the Winter Olympics is by far one of my favorite sports to watch.  Who can say that they have DVR'd whatever broadcasts available on NBCSN about biathlon for this year's World Cup?  It is truly a fascinating sport to me.  I would love to try it someday and I think Paul for sure would be a great teacher... I just hope that he is patient with me because I have to learn everything... 

Blood Clot Survivors for sure can do anything.  Even Winter Biathlon...!

Thank you fore reading,

The Clot Buster

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!