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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February Athlete of the Month

Once more the power of the web has brought me to a cross roads in which I get to meet some truly amazing people.

Can't really under estimate how far this blog can reach and the number of folks I am able to meet.

I am THRILLED that we get the chance to read more and more inspiring stories about people surviving blood clotting incidents.

This month's Athlete of the Month is certainly one of those survivors and an individual with a story that is worth reading to get you off the couch and moving.

Please let me introduce you to SARA WYEN and read on about what she had to say about the questions I asked her...

1) What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
I am a runner. I enjoy running because it has lead to so many positive changes in my life. Anyone can run, anywhere and at anytime - you don't have to be an athlete, look or feel a certain way to run. You can run alone, with friends or with a training group. Running is one of the most primal activities we experience as human beings. You just run. Running has not only helped me to get physically healthy and take care of myself, but helped me to regain self-confidence that I had previously lost. Through running, I have learned to respect myself and my body for what it is.

2) How did you get started in that sport?
In the spring of 2009, I decided to run a half marathon. I take that back. In the spring of 2009, I walked into work one day and declared (after just discovering I could run for 1.5 miles without stopping after weeks of training with a personal trainer) that I was going to run a marathon – all 26.2 miles of it. At least, I thought that’s what the mileage of a Marathon was. My then co- and now awesome friend Chrissy, who I barely knew, turned around in her chair and said, “Okay, I’ll do it with you.” Only, neither of us really knew what to do to get started! Long story short, we joined Marathoners In Training in Columbus, Ohio and ran our first half marathon after completing the program in August of 2009.

3) What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve? (Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did)
In January of 2012, I ran the Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World in memory of my mother who passed away unexpectedly while on a training run in April of 2011. I completed the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and 22 miles of the Marathon before I was pulled from the course due to injury (or what I now suspect may have been the beginning of my blood clot in my leg).

4) Tells about your clotting episode. Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
My life literally changed overnight (yet again?) in the summer of 2012. Life was going as planned – better than planned, as a matter of fact – in late May I quit my job of five years in the non-profit field and prepared to start my career as a 9-1-1 Dispatcher. That was on a Thursday and on Monday morning, instead of finding myself in the communications center of the local police department, I found myself in the intensive care unit of the local hospital wondering, “What happened to my life?”After suffering what I now know to have been a pulmonary embolism (or blood clot in my lung) from a deep vein thrombosis (or blood clot in my leg), I went from running more days than not to not being able to even walk, stand, use the bathroom or breath on my own. I could barely eat on my own. Most of my foods made it somewhere near my mouth, if I didn’t fall asleep while eating from the copious amount of morphine being pumped into my system to ease the pain.
All the doctors blamed my blood clots on oral contraceptives, which I had been taking for over seven years at that point. It wasn’t discovered until one doctor decided to dig a little deeper, thankfully, that I had antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which your body mistakenly produces antibodies against certain normal proteins in your blood potentially leading to the formation of a blood clot(s) deep within the veins of the leg (DVT). Damage to other organs depends on the extent and location of the clot. If a clot travels to your lung it can cause a pulmonary embolism (PE). There’s no cure for antiphospholipid syndrome, but medications can be effective in reducing your risk of blood clots.
I remember vividly the day I was sitting (very uncomfortably) in my doctor’s office when he looked up from his charts and said, “You know, in all my years of practice, you were the sickest I have ever seen someone. You’re lucky to be alive, in fact, but we’re going to figure this thing out.”
After eight months, I am still on daily injection blood thinners and on the road to recovery.

5) When were you able to get back into your activity? How did it feel that first time?
I have only been able to walk-run a handful of times since I got sick and I know it will be awhile before I am able to run long again. Most memorably, I walked the Flying Feather Four Miler on Thanksgiving, a tradition I started running with my mom and sister in the last few years. I was able to run down the finish chute, which was a wonderful and emotional experience for me. I miss running everyday.

6) 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...)
I'm obsessed with my Garmin Forerunner 405. I can't run without it - that is my running staple. My newest piece of running gear is my Clot Buster Polka-Dot Jersey and it is quickly becoming a favorite! I want to wear it every race I run from now on to bring awareness to blood clots.

7) How much are you getting out doing your sport? (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week)
Right now I am getting out to walk-run intervals once or twice a week. I want to run a half marathon again.

8) What is your favorite food? Either generally or after a workout. For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
I love anything spicy! The spicier the better. I am reading and learning about the Paleo Diet now and what benefits it could have for people who are struggling with systematic inflammation and clotting disorders.

9) If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
Ever since I got sick, I want to see everything. I feel truly lucky to be alive and don't want to waste the life I have left. I would love to see the Rocky Mountains.

10) 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.
Don't ever give up. Not ever. Don't give up fighting - no matter how hard it gets or how bad it hurts. Be an advocate for yourself because no one else will, question everything. Question your doctors, diagnosis, health insurance - don't even accept 'you can't' or 'you won't' as an answer. It does get better even though it might take a very long time. You survived something not everyone does and you are here for a reason. Don't stop looking for it.


Sara - THANK YOU a million times over for sharing your story with us.

Without a doubt you will be back racing in the Clot Buster polka-dots that you make look so good.  Thank you for willingness to spread the word about blood clots and blood clotting disorders.

I very much appreciate what you wrote about me on your blog... THANKS!

Here is wishing that you in fact get to see the Rocky Mountains some day.  That is a trip that you MUST do.

Get inspired and get out there.  Blood clots cannot stop you!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

1 comment:

Sara said...

Roland, thank you so much for sharing my story with your readers and for the kind things you said. I don't think I have ever been an "Athlete" of Anything, let alone the month so this is exciting! ;) I too am very grateful we were able to connect and hope to meet you at a mutual race someday. I am also looking forward to connecting with other athletes and readers on your site and find it has been a true inspiration to me to keep following my dreams of running again. Thank you!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!