Eight years ago, at the age of 27, I almost died from blood clots. Since that time, I’ve become a passionate supporter of the National Blood Clot Alliance and have tried to use my voice to help aid their mission to spread awareness about blood clots. One of the ways I’ve done this is by running multiple races in support of the NBCA. With each race and fundraising endeavor I always said the same thing: If I can help spread awareness and to save just one person, then it's all worth it. Little did I know that the life I would save would be my Mother’s.
This past summer, my Mom and Dad were busy getting ready for a 12 hour road trip to Montana. Two days before they were supposed to leave, my Mom broke her foot and was put on crutches. I was immediately concerned…..not so much about her foot (which I’m sure hurt), but by the fact that she had fractured a bone and was about to go sit in a car for 12 loooong hours. As any blood clot survivor will tell you, both of these things are risk factors for developing blood clots. We had a chat and discussed what she needed to do stay healthy. Get out of the car and walk as often as possible, try to elevate her broken foot, take an aspirin, do her ankle pumps. She followed these suggestions and made it to Montana where we spent an amazing week with family.
On their drive back from Montana, my Mom and Dad weren’t able to stop as often. They were tired and ready to get back home. When they were back at the house, I called my Mom and she told me her foot and ankle were really swollen. Alarm bells started ringing in my head. I told her to go down to the ER and get a D-Dimer test (this is one of the initial tests run to see if you might have a blood clot). She said she wanted to wait. I wasn’t super excited about that response, but I told her to call me in the morning and let me know how she was doing.
The next day she called and told me she was still swollen and had placed a call to her doctor expressing her (and my) concerns. She never heard back from her doctor that day, but she had an appointment with her orthopaedic surgeon the following day and said she would talk to him. The surgeon had also been my doctor when I had my blood clots and I felt like she was in good hands. I told myself that after what happened to me - he must be well versed in blood clots now. She went in for her visit, told him about the swelling, and asked if she needed to be worried about a clot. He looked at her foot, looked at her, and told her no - that her risk was low and swelling happens when you break your foot. She had multiple red flags and warning signs and he dismissed them all.
The next morning my Mom called me scared. Her heart rate was elevated and she wanted to know what to do. My heart sunk. I knew then that the same thing that had happened to me had happened to her. She had a blood clot in her leg and it had traveled to her lungs. I composed myself and told her that she needed to get Dad and go to the ER immediately. When she arrived there, the doctors performed a CAT Scan and confirmed my fears. This is where my story and my Mom’s diverge.
When I was diagnosed with my blood clots, I was already at the point of gasping for air and had compromised heart functions. I was airlifted to a hospital where I spent the first night in ICU and the following five days in the Cardiac ward. I was told by countless doctors how lucky I was to be alive and, by one of the more blunt EMTs, that people don’t throw the kind of clots I did and survive. My recovery was tough and it took me a couple months to regain my strength.
My Mom, on the other hand, despite having her concerns dismissed by multiple doctors was able to be diagnosed early thanks to my awareness. She was stable enough to go home from the ER and recover in the comfort of her own bed. Her recovery was hard, but it was more of a matter of weeks than months for her. This is why it is so critical to be diagnosed early and THIS is why the National Blood Clot Alliance exists. The mortality rate for an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism is 30% and in some cases the first symptom is death. And there’s also this to consider - on average 274 people die every day from blood clots. I really cannot stress how important it is to know your risks and learn the signs and symptoms of a blood clot.
This will be my sixth race since my clots and this time I’m running it for my Mom. I’m also going to say what I say every time…...because I truly mean it: If I can use this race to spread awareness and to help just one person, then it's all worth it.
Thank you so much for your support and for your donations – it means the world to me and my family. And together we can all help to STOP THE CLOT!