I wish I had plantar fasciitis instead of a blood clot

I’ve been staring at a blank computer screen for just about four and a half hours now, and all I can think of to describe the last year is, “I wish had I plantar fasciitis instead of a blood clot.”

Yes, you read that right. I wish I had plantar fasciitis. I wish I could say that’s all it was, better luck next season, you’ll feel better after some PT.

Why would I wish that? Because at this time last year, I thought I had plantar fasciitis and then I almost died when it turned out to be a blood clot in my leg that broke free, traveled through my heart and lodged in my lung as a pulmonary embolism instead.

The truth is the last year has been nothing but a roller coaster ride – not to sound cliché – of emotions. I have felt angry, alone, confused, scared, betrayed, depressed and been in more physical pain than I ever thought possible. It is said the pain of a PE trumps child birth and while I can’t compare the two, I wouldn’t question it if someone ruled in favor of the PE. Now, I am dealing with the emotional trauma of facing a year (or more) recovery period and lifelong treatment of a condition that will never really go away. To some degree, I will always live with the expectation – and fear that goes along with it – that I could, more than others, develop another clot, and I question whether or not I would make it through a second – or third, or fourth – one.

It took me 363 days to run again – without pain or fear or gasping for air in four and a half seconds. I ran a successful two miles for the first time, two nights ago. Successful in that I finished standing on two feet, breathing and able to walk the next day. It’s funny, for all I read about competition and beating the other gal and making it faster, stronger, longer – the only thing that truly matters to me now is that I can run, or walk or breathe or think for that matter. I spent 12 long months not being able to walk very far some days, breathe without pain and unable to remember simple things like why I got in my car or what I was supposed to do with my time that day, let alone which highway would take me to my Dad’s house or that I had to be told something a minimum of 56 times in order to remember it. There are parts of the last year which have completely escaped me.

It was hard and it's not pretty, but I feel a gigantic feeling of relief 363 days after my last run.

It was hard and it’s not pretty, but I feel a gigantic feeling of relief 363 days after my last run.

I set out to write an angry post – because I am angry – about what happened to me. It doesn’t seem fair. And yet, 1 in 3 people don’t survive a PE. In the last two days, I have received two private messages from readers who have lost a friend or family member to a PE. I’m the third one. Why me?

From anger, I move on to complete grief and sadness. Many days, I am overridden with guilt that I am alive when so many others cannot say the same thing. I want to know why, how and when things will return to normal. But for me, there is no returning to normal, there is only a new normal, which I hope someday I can adjust to.

In speaking with a friend this weekend, I said, “If only I had known, I wouldn’t have had this happen,” to which she responded, “How were you supposed to know?” And she is right. How was I supposed to know? So many young, active, healthy people do not think a DVT or PE can happen to them and that simply is not true. It can. It will. And more people will die because most people simply do not know.

From anger and sadness, I turn to sheer determination to spread the word about what happened to me. I tell everyone. I have started a new site dedicated to Blood Clot Recovery, although I still plan to talk about my experiences here because it will always be a part of the new me.

I almost gave up on this blog and running, until two nights ago when I ran those two miles and realized running doesn’t have to be perfect. I’ve been gone for 363 days and it wasn’t easy and I did (and probably still will) think I would be better off not having to deal with anything that happened to me – the pain, the anger, the grief. But, then I think of one thing, there is someone else out there, going through where I have already been and I want to be there to say, “Don’t give up, because it does get better, little by little, day by day.” And you may take seven steps backwards to every one you take forward, but one day you will look back down the road and think, “I can’t believe how far I’ve come.”

It may take years for me to ever gain a sense of peace about what happened to me. I am often fearful of what happened and what is to come. Right now, I know I cannot face the pain of another PE. But, I also know, my life is more meaningful than it has ever been – because I have this life. I don’t know why and I don’t know where, when or how, but I do know I am here for a purpose and in the coming months and years, I hope I find that purpose, because I was not given a second chance without one.

Me & Judi on the day I threw my blood clot, one year ago.

Me & Judi on the day I threw my blood clot, one year ago.

Until the next mile marker,

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