Blood Clots: The Most Important Post I Will Ever Write

The number one search term leading people to my blog is ‘difference between blood clot in leg symptoms and pulled calf muscle symptoms’ or some variation of it. Almost daily I watch the page views skyrocket on Could You Have a Blood Clot? Information is lacking on blood clots and blood clot symptoms. I didn’t know anything about it, until I suffered from the massive trauma and devastating effects of a blood clot in my left leg that broke free, traveled through my heart and lodged in my left lung. Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis DVT and pulmonary embolism PE) affect upwards of 600,000 Americans each year and cause more deaths each year than the more well-publicized occurrences of breast cancer, AIDS, and motor vehicle accidents, yet they are virtually unheard of. In terms of blood clots, [this might be] the most important post I will ever write.


March is Blood Clot Awareness Month. And, if you don’t know what to look out for by reading my blog, then I haven’t done enough to make you aware.

Sometimes, mostly late at night when I can’t sleep (I have not slept right since I got sick and I often wake up thinking I can’t breathe again), I scour the internet searching for information. My mind is like a sponge, soaking up everything I can find out blood clots, but the information is hard to come by. What I do find is a lot of survivor stories – people like me who are either young, active, healthy or a combination of them all – individuals who have been knocked off their feet by the damaging effects of a dvt or pe and are struggling every day to live their lives. And they do.

No matter what survivor’s story I read, I have found that all of us, who have chosen to speak out about blood clot awareness, are passionate about it. I can’t even describe to you anymore the excruciating pain I felt during and after my blood clots (which is why I am so thankful Dad told me to write this post right away). I know it was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, but I also know my brain has repressed that exact feeling. Today, I handle pain differently (and I used to have a high tolerance for physical pain), in that mostly I can’t handle it. The slightest thing hurts and sends me into tears or destroys my focus. The nurses in the hospital swore to me that surviving a blood clot in the lung was more painful than childbirth (so, I should be good there?!). One-half of clot patients will have long-term complications and one-third will have a recurrence within 10 years, which is perpetually in the back of my mind and terrifies me. Among people who have had a dvt, one-half will have long-term complications (post-thrombotic syndrome) such as swelling, pain, discoloration, and scaling in the affected limb. Some will have open sores in the affected limb, known as ulcers. (

When I got hurt (damage from a dvt or pe is actually considered a bodily injury and not a sickness), I was a runner, I lost weight and was far out of the risk for diabetes zone, which I had previously found myself in. I didn’t think it could happen to me. I did all the right things, right?

Please listen to me when I say – Please listen to your body because it can happen to you! We as runners think we can handle pain, that it’s normal, that there is nothing wrong, but please know what to look for because you never know when something might, in fact, be horribly wrong.

Symptoms of a pe (pulmonary embolism or blood clot in the lung):
  • Unexplained sudden onset of shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort that worsens when you take a deep breath, cough or even lie down
  • Feeling light headed or dizzy, or fainting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Sweating
  • Coughing up blood
  • A sense of anxiety, nervousness or impending doom

PE is life-threatening complication of deep vein thrombosis, please seek emergency medical care immediately, as it can be fatal!

Symptoms of a dvt (deep vein thrombosis or blood clot in the leg):
  • Swelling in the affected leg, including swelling in your ankle and foot.
  • Pain in your leg; this can include pain in your ankle and foot. The pain often starts in your calf and can feel like cramping or a charley horse. It won’t go away with regular stretching, massaging or rest.
  • Warmth over the affected area.
  • Changes in your skin color, such as turning pale, red or blue or purple.

You need to know in about half of all cases, deep vein thrombosis occurs without any noticeable symptoms. If something doesn’t seem right or you are at all concerned, make an appointment with your primary care physician to have it checked out before symptoms could potentially get worse and cause problems with your lungs or heart.

You’re at risk for a dvt (and potentially a pe) if you are sitting for long periods of time, such as when driving or flying; have an inherited a blood-clotting disorder; are on prolonged bed rest, such as during a long hospital stay or paralysis; have had an injury or surgery; are pregnant; have cancer; have inflammatory bowel disease; have heart disease; take birth control or hormone replacement therapy; have a pacemaker or catheter; have had a dvt or pe previously; have a family history of dvt or pe; are overweight or obese; are a smoker; are over 6o years old; are tall; or are a female.

That’s a lot of different people.

If you experience any of the pe and dvt symptoms at the same time, please seek emergency medical care. If you are alone, call 9-1-1. Don’t wait to see if you get better.

This is serious.

The complications from a pe are extremely painful, stressful, damaging to the body and mind and can last a lifetime. I am about ten months out from my pe and I am still recovering. The total recovery time for me is one to two years, and it all depends on my body. Up to two years. That’s not something to be taken lightly. Everything has changed for me. I have to pay attention to what I do, what I eat, what medications I take or don’t take, what kind of exercise I do. This has impacted my family, my friends, my job and so many other things that I never even considered before now. The psychological and emotional ramifications are equally damaging and ones that I am still faced with daily. And, it’s not even my fault, although there are still times when I demand to know “what I did to deserve this.”

Still, I am grateful to be here.


I don’t want to let my dvt and pe injury define me in a negative way, yet to some extent, it will make a difference to the person I am and to the person I become from here on out. I don’t believe this occurrence is something I can just sweep under the rug and day, “Well, I survived that, but it’s not defining me so I’m moving on with my life.” Yes, I will keep moving on with my life and keep trying to find the positives, but there is something to be said for awareness.

It’s like cancer or a brain injury, a heart attack or stroke – people don’t just survive those things and then pretend it never happened. If they did, organizations like the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association wouldn’t exist. And yet, except for a few small organizations, no one talks about blood clots.

Except for those who have survived. I am here to tell you, listen to your body, be aware and don’t wait. If you or a loved one has experienced the devastation of a blood clot, there is hope. Life will go on, but yes, there is Hell to conquer first.

If you do nothing else, please share this information with at least one other person – in your family, your circle of friends or workplace. Send a tweet, share it on Facebook or even email it – just pass it along. If you don’t want to do that, please store it in your file of information just in case you need it some day. You never know whose life you may save in the process.

Thank you very much to The Clot Must Be Fought for the graphics that appear in this post and for helping to promote awareness about blood clots and their effects. The Clot Must Be Fought is fighting blood clots with awareness, creativity and a group of people who have fought for their lives. Please consider purchasing an awareness band to help support their organization and continue to spread the word! You can also like them on Facebook to stay up to date with information, awareness and advice.

Until the next mile marker,

March Shubeez Special – Get it While it’s HOT!

Starting this year, my blog is an affiliate with Shubeez. What is that? Shubeez are unique collectible shoe tags that attach securely to the laces of any athletic footwear. They have 13.1, 26.2, Bee pink (breast cancer awareness) and customizable options too.

The special this month is perfect – especially if you can’t decide what to get. Why is that? Because the March package includes the whole collection: Bee Pink (breast cancer awareness), Half Marathon (13.1) and Marathon (26.2). Get all 3 for one low price of $9.99 (plus shipping and handling)! Each Shubeez is a symbol of all the hard work and dedication you have put into achieving your goals and now you can own the whole collection for one low price.

We all run for a reason. We all have a cause, a goal, a mission in life and in order to make progress you must begin to taking steps toward your desired result. Along with the founders of Shubeez, I believe that everyone has the power to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.  Whether running in a race, playing a game of baseball or running errands around town, with a Shubeez shoe tag you are showing that you are in fact a part of a community that cares. I run to remember my Mom, to raise awareness of the dangers of blood clots and to achieve a happy, healthy, balanced life. Running is as much about giving back to others as it is about improving myself and that is why I am proud to be a part of the Shubeez affiliate program.

Order your Whole Shubeez Package HERE and be sure to let them know I sent you by selecting Words to Run By from the drop-down Affiliate box! And please spread the word.

Tell me in the comments: What additional designs would you like to see from Shubeez?

Until the next mile marker,

The Whole30: What the Heck It Is and Why You Should Care

If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you’ve probably been seeing a lot of hashtaging including #ItStartsWithFood #Whole30 #ChangeYourLlifeInUnexpectedWays #PaleoBeginner #Paleo #EatLessCrap #EatForHealth and #FitFluential.

Yes, I am about to talk about food. Yes, I am about to say why I’m really giving up grains (yes, even-whole-grains), dairy, alcohol, sugar (yes, even-honey-and-agave-and all-that-is-natural-sugar), a lot of nuts and anything that comes out of a package. Sound familiar?

You don’t have to agree with me or even think I am right or wrong or making good or bad food choices (and I’m not about to tell you what you really should or shouldn’t eat); but before you decide for yourself, I am about to say something really radical-

I had the opportunity to review It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig through FitFluential, and I can honestly say it may be one of the best opportunities ever to come across this blog. Let’s be honest, it’s also the first nutritional book I have read cover to cover, unable to put down and not just skimming to get the basic plan either. It was riveting and informational and funny and I don’t think I will ever view food quite the same – hopefully to the betterment of my health. Which, let’s face it, has been in shambles since June of 2012 when I barely survivied a blood clot that broke off from my leg vein and became lodged in my left lung.

It Starts With Food is a nutritional plan (Paleo at it’s core – quality meats, eggs, vegetables, fats, fruits and not much else to begin with) that shows you how certain other foods may be having negative effects on how you look, feel and live – in ways that you’d never associate with your diet. More importantly, the Hartwigs outline their life-long strategy for eating good foods in a clear and detailed action plan designed to help you create a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food. Forever. For good. For once and for all. Because-

I’ve fought with food my whole life – Weight Watchers, No Carb, Low Carb, High Fat, No Fat, Eat More, Eat Less, Eat Clean, Eat Whatever You Want, No Gluten and on and on and on and on. I never stick with anything. I always feel like something is lacking – I never maintain weight loss and I have yet to achieve optimal health.

Until now.

It Starts With Food outlines a clear, balanced, sustainable plan to change the way you eat forever – and transform your life in unexpected ways starting with “The Whole30,” a powerful 30-day nutritional reset designed to help restore a healthy metabolism, heal the digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food. The book provides the science, the reasonings, the shopping lists, the basic recipes and the compassion of the Hartwigs (along with a little tough-love too). They want you to be healthy – almost as much as you do.

Per their book, since 2009 the Hartwig’s program has led people to weight loss, improved quality of life and a healthier relationship with food – accompanied by stunning improvements in sleep, energy levels, mood and self-esteem. More significantly, many people have reported the elimination of a variety of symptoms, diseases and conditions – in about 30 days. Food is our best medicine – and our worst enemy.

Grains are bad

The truth? I love that statement. It makes people stop, think, raise an eyebrow and wonder just-what-crazy-diet-you’re-getting-into-now. I don’t believe we need grains – not even the whole ones – they’re not made as nature intended anymore and we are (including myself) addicted to the pleasure they give our brains thus causing us to over consume them to the point that they are destroying our health completely. Read the book for yourself. If nothing else, you will be entertained and might learn something new.

Yet, I know this is right for me. I cut out milk shortly after starting the book 23 days ago (I used to drink several glasses a day) because I was unsettled by the fact that it directly causes inflammation at the cellular level (among many other things), which has also been linked to people with an increased blood clotting risk factor. I drank milk my whole life before now. For two days I have been eating according to the Whole30 plan, and in just that short amount of time I feel more normal, natural and actually have felt my energy levels skyrocket. I wish I was as scared of the potentially negative effects of grains as I am of milk so I could just cut them out and call it done, but grains are where I will struggle in this challenge. Yes, it’s hard and for now, I miss rice and pasta, but I am hoping to change that and I believe I can with It Starts With Food.

I know one thing is for sure, I can’t wait to see how the next 30 days go. For once, I am excited about altering my food choices and for me, I have nothing but health to gain.

What do you think? Have you read It Starts With Food? Do you follow a Paleo lifestyle? Could you conceive giving up grains? Why or why not? Please discuss in the comments below!

Until the next mile marker,

Please Note: I was provided with a copy of It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig in exchange for my honest opinions, which I have expressed here. I was not compensated for this review nor was I asked to write a positive one. Thank you to It Starts With Food and FitFluential for their generosity in giving me the opportunity to review this book.

A Matter of Perspective

Running is hard.

Starting over is hard.

Starting over running is very hard.

What’s that quote about if it were easy, everyone would be out there doing it? There are a lot of people out there running; maybe I am making it too hard.

I don’t know how I ever ran a half marathon, a marathon or any other thing I ever ran.

I’ve thought about giving up many times since I started over with running. More times than I’ve thought, “I can’t wait to run today!” It would be easy to give up, actually; blaming it on getting sick and reduced lung capacity and constant pain in my calf and well, near death, but I can’t give up.

Something inside won’t let me.

It’s been hard before. I’ve struggled through runs and learning to breathe and moving on aching legs. Then why does this feel different somehow? Harder. I’ve thought, “I’m not good at this,” “I’ll never get back to where I was,” and “This is way too hard to be worth it.”

Then, just like that, someone puts it back into perspective for me. It’s like adjusting the view on binoculars. Everything’s a blur until you find the right focus.

Only eight months ago I was in the cardiac ICU for a blood clot in my lung.

Only eight months ago I couldn’t walk, use the bathroom or bathe on my own.

Only eight months ago I left the hospital in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank.

It took me an hour to run-walk three miles on Sunday. But I finished.

Maybe running is supposed to be hard right now. Maybe I am right where I need to be.

Until the next mile marker,

It’s a Wrap! #28DBC Days 8-14

Another week of the 28-Day Blog Challenge hosted by Katy Widrick is wrapping up today. Compared to last week, I haven’t made a ton of improvements on my blog, but sometimes, it is the small things that count, right?! It’s not too late to join the challenge with just under half the month of Fenruary left.

This week-

  • I’m still replying to every blog comment that is left. I don’t get very many it seems so this isn’t too hard right now. I plan to keep it up no matter how many comments I get.
  • I added a comments section and Featured Post plug-in to the bottom of my blog.

  • I fixed my Daily Mile Training Widget so it appears updated with my most recent run on my sidebar.
  • I got caught up with a 1,000 + posts in Google Reader and commented on many blog posts.
  • I followed a new blog, whose author shares my passion for rasing awareness about blood clots and blood-related diseases. Check her out at Living ~ Not Just Surviving. Her title is awesome and where I hope to be at some point in my life.

Looking ahead (leave your comments below!)-

What tips do you have for increasing comments on your blogs?

Yay or no on my footer addition? Does anyone know how to make the Featured Posts plug-in display a random post and not just the newest post?

Do you have any great fitness/health/running plug-ins you can’t live without?

Until the next mile marker,