Running through a Blood Clot

My struggle in recovering from a blood clot has not been easy and since almost losing my life two years ago due to one in my lung, getting back to running has been a long and difficult struggle. I have not run more than a handful of times since then, and I often find myself feeling guilty for not getting back to training or not trying to run “like I should.” In recent weeks, I have struggled with feeling like I “should be” running and that has been burdensome to my recovery further. While I do consider myself physically recovered now – just out of shape – I still deal with the mental and emotional challenges of facing a devastating and lifelong illness on a regular basis. While I have built a network to help others struggling through the same challenges I have faced, in terms of fitness and running, I feel very isolated. It is not very often I run across someone in the fitness sphere who understands what I have been through. 

That all changed when I was contacted by fellow survivor – and first-time marathoner-in-training – Sam DeBrule. He asked to share his story with me and my readers, and I agreed. His story has made an impact on me in ways far beyond what I can articulate right now. Meet Sam.

In his own words, this is his story….

Running through a Blood Clot by Sam DeBrule

I was diagnosed with two blood clots before I turned 18 years old. This first, in my right calf, happened when I was 15 and still causes me discomfort to this day.

My father was diagnosed with two blood clots and a pulmonary embolism [Editors Note: A pulmonary embolism or PE is a blood clot in the lung, commonly life threatening] before his 40th birthday. My mom was diagnosed with a blood clot just a few weeks ago. No doctor or specialist has ever been able to determine what causes them in us. It used to drive me crazy that we never tested positive for any of the common (or uncommon) clotting factors.

But, I don’t care what the cause is anymore to be completely honest. I’ve decided after eight years to stop being a victim. I’m learning now how to start running through a blood clot towards my recovery.

Here are the two main things I’ve experienced in my journey so far. I hope they can help you if you are recovering, or know someone who is recovering, from a blood blot.

A renewed perspective

I began training for a marathon a few days ago, and I hate running. So why am I doing it?

Because I know that I can. I survived a disease that kills one American every five minutes. If that doesn’t put things into perspective for you, I don’t know what will! Surviving a blood clot is no small task; you’ve done something incredible.

There is no need to view that experience of your life as wholly negative one. Instead, use it as an internal motivator that drives you to accomplish great things.

If you’re anything like me, being diagnosed with a blood clot made you painfully aware that you are, in fact, mortal. You don’t have 1,000 years to accomplish every single thing you’ve ever wanted. So why not make the most of today and every other day from this point forward? Prove to yourself that you are capable of doing even greater things than surviving a deadly disease.

For me, it will be running a marathon, for you, it could be something completely different.

The mental recovery is most difficult

The physical pain of a blood clot is no fun. At all.

But, even worse than the physical pain, is recovering mentally from a traumatic experience. When I was 15 years old, I was devastated to hear the news I could never play football again. Everything about my identity up to that point in my life was tied to the sport. I let it gnaw at me for years, but I am finally realizing it was a blessing in disguise.

Will you let a blood clot defeat you? Will you let it make you more risk-averse and afraid to do the things you love? Don’t.

I’ve worn a medical necklace for the last eight years that alerts people that I’m taking Coumadin [Editor’s Note: Coumadin a blood thinner, carrying inherent bleeding risks if injured]. Don’t tell my doctor (or my mom), but I took it off the other day. It will never go back on. I realized that it was simply a constant reminder that I was “sick.”

I’m not recommending that you do the same, but be aware of the things in your life that feed you negative reminders of the blood you or a family member have.

If they aren’t doing anything positive for you, get rid of them.

Good luck on your journey, and I hope you wish me luck on mine!

Thank you, Sam, for sharing your story with Words to Run By. Catch up with Sam at his blog, Compression Hub, where he seeks to help others combat a sedentary lifestyle and the dangers that come with it, including blood clots, through talking about healthy living and running. Also, connect with him on Twitter @CompressionHub or @SamDeBrule
 

Comments

  1. What an inspiration! Thanks for sharing Sam’s story. Hope you are doing well Sara!

  2. Oh wow! What an ordeal! Thank heavens that you were able to pull through with that. Kudos to you! Sending positive vibes your way!

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