I woke up a little later than normal on April 19, 2019. It was Good Friday so I had the day off from work. As such, instead of my normal 5:45pm Orangetheory class I was registered for a 9:15am class. As soon as I stepped out of bed, I experienced excurtiating pain in my left calf. While it was more painful than "normal" workout pains, I chalked it up to something I did at class earlier in the week. As I went through my morning routine, nothing I could do would help the pain. I actually Googled DVTs because I had heard of them, but other than the pain I had no other symptoms. No swelling. No warmth to the touch. No discoloration. So off to OT I went.
About 30 seconds into my cardio, I knew something was wrong. I worked out 4-5 times per week but on that day it was so difficult. I couldn't breathe. I was breathing, but just couldn't get air. So I did what every rational person does in that situation -- went to the bathroom! Surely that would fix it! I got to the bathroom and sat straight on the floor -- I still couldn't breath and was feeling very light headed. Eventually I summoned enough strength to crawl to the door to call for help.
My OT "family" was great! They provided a safe lap on which to lay my head and reassuring words while they first called my husband. By the time that call was made, things for me had gotten no better. I was struggling to breathe and starting to internally panic, so they called 911. Once I was in the ambulence they put me on oxygen which was a sweet relief! One of the EMTs kept commenting on something he saw on the heart monitor as well. Next thing I knew, the sirens were on and we were speeding to the ER.
When I first was arrived, the doctors did a quick assessment and suspected blood clots, although I had aboslutely no reason to have had them. They did an ultrasound of my heart which showed enlargement and started me on a heparin drip while waiting for confirmation. I had X-rays of my lungs, ultrasounds of both legs and a CT scan of my lungs. They found bilateral DVTs and extensive bilateral pulmonary emoblisms. Every lobe of my lungs was clotted. I was also having a type of heart attack due to how hard the right side of my heart was having to work to pump blood to my lungs.
Eventually I was transferred to the ICU in the main hospital in Cleveland, OH. I spent one night there and 3 more nights on the cardiac/vascular floor with continual heart monitoring and a constant heparin drip. Every doctor who walked into my room couldn't believe how good I looked. Every single one said that I am exceedingly lucky to be alive. During my stay and during subsequent doctor visits I underwent all the standard tests and cancer screens. Although I am heterozygous for two gene mutuations that increase clotting risk, my doctors don't believe they played a significant role. So I am in that "lucky" position of having an unprovoked clotting event! For now, I am on Xarelto for the foreseeable future.
Despite the fact that my overall fitness level probably saved my life, I still had to take several months off from working out. Once I was back it was so, so difficult. The first couple trips back to OT I had to fight back tears. I knew I was lucky to be alive, but it was so hard and I couldn't do what I used to do. I had to learn to be okay with what my body was capable of doing on that day and work my way back. I am so blessed with an amazingly supportive husband and children as well as the group of friends at Orangethoery studio. They quite literally cheer on every accomplishment I've had since returning and watch out for me to make sure I'm okay!
I am exceedingly honored to have been selected to be a part of Team Stop the Clot! I have never run a marathon before so I am simultaneiously excited and petrified! It means alot to me to have the chance to do this for myself whlie raising money for the Blood Clot Alliance. But equally as important, I want so show other survivors that you can come back from extremely DVTs and PEs. Don't give up! You have a whole community behind you!
Please consider donating to my campaign. Every penny you give will give me that much more encouragement when the miles get tough! Thank you!