This is a guest post by Sara A. Wyen. Sara is a RRCA Certified Running Coach and blogger at http://www.wordstorunby.com.
When I was first diagnosed with a blood clot (or thrombus) in my lower leg, I had no idea what “deep vein thrombosis” meant; then when I found out part of the clot broke off and traveled through my blood stream and lodged in my lung (”pulmonary embolism”), I became even more confused.
Not only was I in severe pain, struggling to breathe and incapacitated, I was trying to understand how and why this could happen to a healthy, active, young woman. I had been under the impression for the last year or so that life would come to a screeching halt by the time I turned thirty, and now here I was, four months away from my 30th birthday and I must have been right. In fact, I didn’t realize then how close to death I had actually come.
Upon being discharged from the hospital after ten long days, I was placed on bed rest at home for the next thirty, only able to move around for the necessary going to the restroom, the shower and the doctor’s office. I thought I was the youngest person ever to need an oxygen tank and couldn’t believe I could barely walk unassisted after running 35 miles in two days in January. With nothing to do but sit at home, consumed by my fear and confusion, I began scouring the internet for information about blood clots.
The information I found, although terrifying and troublesome, was invaluable to my understanding what happened to me and thus, my recovery. Here are three things I learned after my blood clot that has impacted me the most:
1) One person every minute will be diagnosed with DVT in the United States. One person every six minutes will die from a PE in the United States as often the first symptom is sudden death.
2) Symptoms of a DVT include pain, swelling or tenderness of the affected area and skin that is warm to the touch. However, nearly one half of all occurrences of DVT have no identifiable symptoms.
3) DVT and PE effect upwards of 600,000 Americans each year and cause more deaths each year than the more well-publicized incidences of breast cancer, AIDS and motor vehicle accidents, yet there is virtually no awareness surrounding these conditions.
I continue to learn more about DVT and PE every day and information is becoming more prevalent as survivors, such as me, choose to speak out about the dangers of blood clots. According to the American Public Health Association, 74% of Americans have very little knowledge of this life-threatening condition, yet it is not a rare condition.
I hope to contribute to changing that statistic by sharing the things I have learned from my own blood clot story.
Sara Wyen is a RRCA Certified Running Coach and blogger at http://www.wordstorunby.com. She has finished numerous half marathons and a marathon since she began running in 2009. After surviving a pulmonary embolism in her left lung in 2012, Sara is on the road to recovery and seeks to educate others about the signs, symptoms and dangers of blood clots. When not running, she enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her husband and two dogs.
Infographic Credit: http://www.horizonsurgicalgroup.com – Used with permission