274 people will die from blood clots today.
Luckily, I wasn't one of them.
March is Blood Clot Awareness month. As you may know, I was diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary embolisms (blood clots that have traveled to your lungs) on August 4, 2016. I was otherwise a healthy 24-year-old. I was running 2-3 miles a few times a week. I went to the walk-in clinic with what felt like a pulled calf muscle after 4 days of pain at the request of my seemingly over-dramatic EMS coworker, looking for a diagnosis we were all expecting - just a running injury. To the shock of my doctors, and of course to me, it was much more than a running injury. I was admitted to the hospital only 3 hours later. For the first time in my life, I considered the fact that I may die.
I can say that everyone always thinks they're grateful. Tomorrow is often taken for granted. We like to think that we live as if we appreciate life, but until your doctor explains to you just how close you were to dying, you really don't. At least I didn't. To have to call my fiancé in tears from a bed in the Emergency Room to explain that he needed to come as soon as possible because it was much worse than we thought – and to consider that maybe I will not actually be here to have that wedding, or a house, or a future at all– is unreal. To have that experience at such a young age has forever changed my outlook on life.
One out of every three people diagnosed with a blood clot will die. I was one of those two people that got a second chance. Each morning I wake up is another chance. A bad day can never really be that bad when one out of three people didn't even get to live it.
Many people have asked me how I'm feeling. They mean physically. I do not have to go through the excruciating injections of blood thinners into my stomach twice a day. I do not have as much trouble filling my lungs as before. The truth is there is still some pain, but it's much better than it was. They never mean emotionally. That is where I still struggle. The anxiety caused by living with what is essentially a ticking time bomb is sometimes too much to handle. Any little pain I have sparks thoughts of "is this it? Am I dying this time?"
Last Friday I received great news. My six month CT scan was clear. The clots are gone. I was able to stop my blood thinner treatment. This nightmare is seemingly over. But is it? I will forever live with the notion that I am now more susceptible to future clots than people who have never had them. I will be high-risk for all future surgeries, including something as routine as wisdom-teeth removal or even having children. I am now part of an exclusive club that I never asked to be in.
I am alive. And that is an amazing thing. But this will never truly be over. I will always live with the complications of this diagnosis. I am more than willing to do that because it means that I survived. I survived something that kills more people annually than AIDS, breast cancer, and car accidents COMBINED.
I have never been involved in charity fundraising before. I’ve never had a deeply personal reason to. My clots were caused by hormonal birth control, but this is not the only risk factor. Some are even seemingly random. Regardless of age, race, gender, or even physical fitness level, we’re all at risk. It could be you. Do you know the signs? I didn’t.
Please help me fundraise for this cause and consider donating to the National Blood Clot Alliance to help them continue their mission of advancing the prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and clot-provoked stroke.
One person is killed by a clot every six minutes. In the time it took you to read this, we’ve lost at least one to three people.
It could have been me.
But I’m a survivor.
The National Blood Clot Alliance, a 501(c)(3), non-profit, voluntary health organization dedicated to advancing the prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and clot-provoked stroke.
- Blood Clots kill more people each year than AIDS, Breast Cancer and motor vehicle accidents combined.
- An estimated 900,000 Americans are diagnosed with blood clots each year. 100,000 will die.
- Blood Clots kill one person every 6 minutes
- Although blood clots can be prevented, fewer than 1 in 4 people know the signs and symptoms, making awareness so important.
- 274 people will die today from a blood clot, and tomorrow, and the next day. Every day, 274 Americans will die of a blood clot.
- Many of these deaths could have been prevented with increased awareness and education. Knowledge is power!
Visit us at www.stoptheclot.org for additional information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones from blood clots.