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Thursday, October 07, 2021

October Athlete of the Month

Inspiration can come at you from many different directions. You never will know what will hit you that will get you inspired.

If you read any of the previous post from this blog you will find some inspiration from these blood clot survivors there is no question about it.

The month of October has in it a very VERY especial day for the community of blood clot survivors... OCTOBER 13th is WORLD THROMBOSIS DAY!!! For me this is a day in which we celebrate awareness, survivors, and remember all those we lost along the way.  This year STOPTHECLOT.org is celebrating World Thrombosis day with a virtual run.  Checkout all the details here >>> https://runsignup.com/Race/PA/Philadelphia/RunWalktoStoptheClot 

You know that I will be running in my CLOT BUSTER @TeamStopTheClot polka-dots and I hope that you will consider joining us as well!

And speaking of running... October is also the month in which preparations intensify in order for blood clot survivors and friends/family of blood clot patients to get ready to participate as runners for the NYC Marathon in November.  This is without a question one of the coolest things that we get to do and to me it is always a thrill to meet these runners who are about to have an unbelievable experience running this marathon.  There is nothing like it.

So lets go ahead and meet on of our runners for this year's edition of Team STOP THE CLOT

Please allow me introduce to you NATALIA... but instead of me rambling here go ahead and read on to learn more about this blood clot survivor who is going to dominate the NYC Marathon!!!

What is your sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?

I primarily run - I really enjoy the stress relief it provides and having my body be constantly challenged.  I find that running really helps with my mental health and really jump starts my day.  It is a sport that rewards consistency and to me that is very important. 

How did you get started in that sport?
One of my friends from back home in El Salvador challenged me to run a half marathon before I turned 25. I said sure - ran that race maybe 10 days before my birthday and then finished knowing I could do better. I have said the same every single race since then.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
I am running the NYC Marathon fundraising for team stop the clot! This will be my 3rd marathon (first post PE) and I am very nervous and very excited.



Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
A week after my 29th birthday, I was training for CIM in California and I had a run that was very very hard. (It was a 20 miler so granted, that is never easy) I had never before felt that out-of-breath feeling, especially on an easy paced run. I chalked it up to a bad day, but then when I felt out of breath dancing at a wedding a couple of days later, I knew there was something off. I remember I couldn’t take a complete deep breath on the way back from the wedding. 

I went to the urgent care the next day and because I had traveled, they wanted to check for blood clots and sent me to the ER. They told me that it was most likely bronchitis but wanted to check. 
I thought they were crazy!! That blood clots only happened to much older individuals. I went to the ER anyways because I had a Disney half marathon that weekend and wanted to get better.

I ended up having a double pulmonary embolism, every doctor that came in to see me kept telling me that my life was a miracle, that I only felt good because of how much I run. I was never really scared until my parents showed up from El Salvador and then I realized how serious this was and could have been.

My boyfriend ran the half instead of me, and I was still doing blood thinners via injection/needles. It was completely surreal to me to be at Disney having to inject myself with blood thinners and feeling weak after being marathon training a week before!! 

I went to the hematologist, described what I was taking before. I was very dehydrated, took approximately 5 flights in two weeks (this is very normal for me because I travel for work), was on birth control, so I really don’t know exactly what caused my episode, but doctors think it’s a combination of all of the above. 
 
I was on blood thinners for approximately 8 months, I was out of commission for about a month, but then it took a while to get back my running fitness. Maybe 6 months.  The mental hurdle was so much harder to deal with, even almost two years later when it is hard to breathe I panic. I went to the urgent care once for what ended up being nothing. Also with COVID wearing a mask and going up stairs gave me that same out of breath feeling that is now extremely scary to me. 

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?
My hematologist told me I could run a couple of weeks after the episode, but to take it very easy. That first time it felt scary and it was hard to breathe. I ran for only a couple of minutes and then did some walking intervals. I remember feeling so happy once I got back to a mile.

What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity?
I love my aftershokz! I also got myself a roadID bracelet for when I was taking blood thinners and for safety after knowing I could have passed out during my clotting incident. (I never used to run with any kind of ID)

How much are you getting out doing your sport?
Right now I am running 4-5x a week. I am doing way lower mileage than before, both to prevent injury and I am not as fit as before!

What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.
I LOVE a cold chocolate milk after a run.

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
I really want to go to Japan and spend a whole week just exploring and eating.


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

This is scary, and it sucks, and you are not alone. I did not know anyone who had a pulmonary embolism at a young age (to be honest, I didn’t even know the word embolism in English). It gets better. After a while you start to feel better and you start to trust your body again. It is a process and like any process you have to take it one day at a time. Forward is forward, and though sometimes it feels like you are treading water - you are alive, and you are making progress!! 

Can't wait for Natalia to experience the Marathon in NYC. 

No question that "it is a process" and you have to work at it every single day.  Blood Clot Survivors do this all the time and so can we. 

Thank you so much to Natalia for her willingness to share her story.  Here is wishing her all the best while she finalizes her training and prepares for race day.

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

September Athlete of the Month

BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING!!!

You have seen me write this more times that I can count but it is the absolute truth.

Every story that I see about blood clot survivors overcoming the challenges related to blood clots inspires me everyday to keep the effort going about spreading awareness and celebrating all blood clot survivors.

Over the past weeks I also saw another source of inspiration in watching the coverage of the Tokyo Paralympics. I am was so proud that my boys wanted to see the coverage about the various events and what people are capable to overcome. If you have not seen Paralympic Athletes in action you should definitely make it priority because there is nothing like it. The determination to overcome by those athletes is truly remarkable.

While watching these coverage I came across a familiar face that I have known about  for many years from her participation and success in the Paralympics but also because she is a formidable long distance/endurance athlete.  I have seen her perform and win at the highest levels of the wheelchair division of famous marathons but I never really knew about her battle with blood clots (diagnosed blood clotting disorder) and how that incident almost derailed her sports career when she was at her highest level.

TATYANA certainly has a story to tell that is very much worth learning about.  She has been able to overcome the challenges of her condition to continue to be a world class athlete.  It is truly impressive to read about her tenacity, dedication, and mental fortitude.

The link below will lead you to a video in which TATYANA speaks about her experience... check it out!

https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/en/paralympics/news/videos/tatyana-mcfadden-blood-clots-almost-killed-me

"Anything is possible for those who believe"

There is no question that Tatyana believes in herself and that is what ALL Blood Clot Survivors also do in order to overcome.

For sure we will continue to see Tatyana on the biggest stage showing everyone that BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING.

Never Stop Trying and Going Forward.

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

August Athlete of the Month

Can you believe it? 

The CLOT BUSTER @TeamStopTheClot polka-dots are everywhere...At the end July I got the opportunity to race at the OHIO Ironman70.3 Triathlon and because we are growing I got the chance to race with the February 2020 Athlete of the Month... Michael "The Thunder"... https://clot-buster-triathlete.blogspot.com/2020/02/february-athlete-of-month.html on a truly wonderful day to suffer and display the Clot Buster @TeamStopTheClot polka-dots. Michael inspired me to fight through the pain and finish to the best of my abilities. Here is wishing him well as he is getting ready to double the distance and throw down in September with a Full Ironman in Chattanooga, TN.  BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING!!!

Speaking of Blood Clot Survivors being able to do anything... We are raising the bar for the August edition of the Athlete of the Month Series. In fact that bar is so high you can hang from it and swing from it to another obstacle all while being suspended over tanks of water.  These obstacles are truly insane and only a few individuals have what it takes to overcome them.

Please allow me to introduce to you CALEB... he is unreal... Why? 

Well because he is one of a kind. He is a Blood Clot Survivor but also a competitor in AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR...!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!

I am trying very hard to think of something else to write here but I don't have the words...

We have been fans of American Ninja Warrior for many years. We have been to a variety of ninja gyms and very much enjoyed the challenges of this sport. But to learn of a Blood Clot Survivor being good enough to be on the National Qualifiers is truly mind blowing. This is very cool and I am super thrilled that  Caleb has been kind enough to share his story with us.

This is so amazing... Go ahead and read on!

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?

Ninja Warrior! It is an absolutely great way to stay in shape. I prefer to "play" to keep physically fit. Whether it's ninja, mountain biking, hiking, or acrobatics, I prefer exercise to be a by-product of fun!

How did you get started in that sport? 

Prior to ninja I was in the US Coast Guard for 10 years and was medically discharged (honorably) after being diagnosed with narcolepsy. When I was looking for things to do I stumbled upon a ninja warrior gym, had a ton of fun, and opened one of my own!


What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?

I made it to the LA city finals on American Ninja Warrior, and was only 1 spot away from the Vegas finals.


Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 

Just a month after having our baby (at 33 years old), I started having burning in both of my lungs one evening. A year prior I had a condition called Pleurisy, where your lung lining is inflamed, after a backflip incident bruised my ribs. I figured that was happening again, but the pain kept getting worse so I finally went to the ER after I was unable to sit down. I told the ER it was probably just Pleurisy and I needed something to help with the inflammation. Luckily, they ran a gambit of tests on me and after a CT scan found a small PE in each lung. They kept me for a bit to monitor the situation and put me on blood thinners. I then went to a clot specialist and was put on Eliquis and told not to train for a few weeks or do anything ninja related because of falls. I was of course devastated because that's what I love! The specialist ran through the spectrum and what felt like 1000 blood vials to find the cause, but nothing was determined, which is a little scary. After getting an ultrasound and being on Eliquis for about 8 months I was cleared to switch to a daily aspirin and resume training.



When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?

8 months. It was a struggle. I lost hope and wanted to quit several times. Before my clot I was at my peak athletically, recently finishing top 10 in the world finals. When I finally got my mind right and committed to the process I felt like myself again!

 

What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity?

My water bottle. I am big on staying hydrated and tell everyone I can on the importance of fueling your body with what it needs to perform or recover.


How much are you getting out doing your sport? 

Off season is about 3 times a week, and when I get after it I'm training 5-6 days. Some days are active recovery, you can't out train your body's need to repair. Rest is important!


What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout. 

I take a whole foods approach. If it's real and unprocessed it's in my diet. Date/nut bars and mixed nuts are my go to snack. I do have cheat days once a week or every other week where I eat junk food and regret it the next day LOL. 


If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 

I want to hit the mountain bike trails of Whistler Mountain in Canada. 

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 returned to action.

It sucks. Your feelings of loss and being depressed are normal. Recognize them and feel them, but don't let them become who you are. Give yourself grace on difficult days. I almost gave up on ninja several times, and that's okay. Set small goals and work on your mindset. Remember to listen to your doctor, recovery is a marathon, not a sprint and listen to your body! 


Thank you Caleb for sharing your story with us!


You are AN INSPIRATION!!! Never stop going forward and pushing the envelope. Your success as a Blood Clot Survivor on the Ninja Warrior course  will inspire all those who are looking to overcome just like you have.


Someday I hope to make it to your Gym (https://flipsideninja.com/) and try to hang on some of the obstacles. I am not sure I will be able to do much else other than just "hang" on the obstacles... I will let professionals like you workout all the tricks!  


BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING!


Thank you for reading,


The Clot Buster

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!
#100 TRIATHLONS