Crossing the Finish Line…Again – Lisa Nelson’s Story

Categories: Patient Stories

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Lisa Nelson (2)My name is Lisa Nelson and I am 35 years old. I happened to run across the listing for the annual Austin Stop The Clot race on the calendar page from RunTex and was disappointed it was coming up so soon. I couldn’t possibly still sign up, but more importantly: Am I up for a 5K run? I only recently started running again, about a month earlier, after being in the hospital for two months with blood clots.  The fact that I even ask my

self these questions now, however, is the best part of my story.

I have the most amazing and supportive friends & family, as they came to see me every day. My parents brought Thanksgiving to me and my sister brought lights for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I had to realize that I needed a lot of help, so it was nice to have so many friends and family visit and support me.

It was quite an adjustment for me: I couldn’t workout anymore, couldn’t run, couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even eat without help and I left the hospital with a feeding tube. I was in and out of CT scans, having multiple blood draws in my arms, neck, feet, stomach, wherever they could get it every single day. Along with many different medications and surgeries it was really rough on my body. Every day, I had physical therapy to help me walk. I couldn’t believe I was so dependent on others.

I was a five time marathon finisher, I had completed a dozen half marathons and over fifteen triathlons. I was depressed. No, I was angry! I took such good care of my body, but at this point I had no control anymore, my body was tired. My very first day of physical therapy, I was greeted by a girl I recognized from my marathon training group (SERIOUS…talk about time and place). I was embarrassed and upset. It showed me how quickly your life can change: This girl and I ran 10, 16, 20 miles in training, completed the Austin Marathon, and now I can’t even walk by myself.

After meeting with a hematologist, I learned that I have Factor V Leiden thrombophilia, a genetic blood clotting disorder. I had what seemed to be just a “sore throat,” but then my neck started to swell. I had four blood clots in my right arm and two in my throat – one the size of a large orange. If they dislodge they could go to my brain or lungs and do extreme damage. I was convinced that every little pain was the start of them dislodging – I was a wreck. As I was meeting with the doctor to go over the blood thinner prescription for the blood clots, I started getting a sharp pain in my side, then vomited and passed out. I had to undergo emergency surgery because my spleen was bleeding. This was a big problem because I could no longer be on blood thinners; but what about my clots?

Today, I have monthly check ups and I am very thankful for the information I was provided. I now know the symptoms, dangers, and side effects to watch for and am more attentive if something doesn’t feel right. I didn’t know much about blood clots before. Now, I am able to work out, run, and do all the activities I enjoyed before my blood clots! I think the awareness raised by this 5K is so great and allows people to learn, live, and play for a great cause – thank you!

Take Home Messages

  • Blood clots can happen to young, seemingly healthy people
  • Family history of blood clots is significant in terms of individual risk
  • One can respond positively to a life-changing event
Author: L F

8 Responses to "Crossing the Finish Line…Again – Lisa Nelson’s Story"

  1. Thuy Doan
    Thuy Doan Posted on May 29, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Can you please let me khow what med you are on after the coumadin ?

  2. Vic
    Vic Posted on July 7, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Great post!
    I am 29 years old, and have always been very active. I started getting into triathlons last summer, but kept experiencing neck/shoulder pain that would lock up my neck. I didn’t know what was going on, saw multiple chiropractors and massage therapists but nothing seemed to help. They did a CT scan and said it was likely from a herniated disc in my neck. Over the winter, things got better, but on April 19 this year I suffered a DVT in my left subclavian vein. All my blood work came back fine, so they still aren’t sure what caused it. I am waiting on an MRA still and am still on blood thinners. I want nothing more than to get back into running and tris again! Your story ( though more severe for sure ) gives me hope!! I live in Canada, so I am not sure there are many events this way ever, but would love to participate in a 5k for this organization sometime in the future!! Thanks:)

    • Theresa
      Theresa Posted on November 5, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Hi Vic – I was just diagnosed with a DVT in my subclavian vein. Still waiting on bloodwork results. It sounds like you had a similar event & I’d loke to know how things worked out for you.

    • christine
      christine Posted on November 7, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Hey Vic, I am interested in how things are going for you now? Also, did you have arm swelling with your subclavian DVT? My daughter, age 16 has just been diagnosed with a clot in her superior vena cava, right subclavian and right axillary. She had severe arm swelling and pain. She started on Xeralto yesterday. (Nov 7,2015). She is also very athletic, wrestling and running and swimming. I am hoping she won’t need to be in thinners for life.

  3. Joe Hayes
    Joe Hayes Posted on September 18, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Its been four years now since they found a D.V.T. in my right leg,broke off an two went too my left lung. The clots in my lung are well gone. But I still have three in my right leg. One in my calf muscle,two behind my right knee.So I will be on blood thinners for the rest of my life. I wish I knew of a way to get rid of the clots,Thanks Joe Pittsburgh.

  4. jane doxma
    jane doxma Posted on November 9, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Xarelto a relatively new blood thinner is supposed to break down remaining clots and prevent formation of new ones. I may I may be on them for life. They are easier to control than others such as warfarin, I had PE with many clots in my lungs. Check it out online or with your Dr.

  5. steve
    steve Posted on November 17, 2015 at 3:29 am

    Hi my name is Steve after a back fusion I was in PT I was telling them I had serious pain in my right leg they did a ultra scan and found the blood clots now on blood thinner my blood work is always changing have no idea about other medications but it is a little scary these things can break loose any time ! During my surgery I had several pint of blood cause of so much loss of it need more surgeries for the back so all have to stop taking thinners 5 day before surgery also have them in both legs hopefully they will dissolve with help of the meds I read others story’s makes me feel stronger

  6. Gary
    Gary Posted on December 11, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Thanks for the support.I’m 35 years old. The past three months have been the worst for anxiety. I have a DVT. It started out as a slight soarness in my left calf than after a week felt worse. I took lovenox shots at home for 7 days twice a day. Than started on warfarin halfway through. The physical pain hasn’t compared to the mental pain. I too kept my body in good shape. Jogging and a cross fit training, plus a labor intensive job. Don’t know why its happened. My days have there ups and downs but I still try to remain positive. Helping others keeps me out of my own mind the best. Plus the few stories I’ve found like these. I too am now afraid of every little pain and discomfort. A support group would be awesome! Hint hint…If anyone has Q and A please don’t hesitate to email me at