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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 myself 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