Wednesday morning started out all fuzzy bunnies and rainbows – I ran in Central Park, hooray! It felt amazing to be back out on the bridle path at sunrise, and I probably had a silly grin on my face during most of my 5 easy miles.
The Achilles felt great during the run, but with notable stiffness in the hours after. This just reminds me that recovery will be a slow process, but I am certainly game.
Post-run morning cereal – TJ’s Joe’s Os and Fruit, Grain and Nut Medley with almond milk and berries
And decaf coffee
I traveled to work with my runner’s high, which prevailed even through the usual 6 train delays. But when I got to the office, I read the news about Serena Williams, who reportedly suffered a pulmonary embolism last week.
The fuzzy bunnies and rainbows halted, and it kind of felt as if I were punched in the stomach. When something like this happens, my mind automatically goes back to that day in late September 2009 when I experienced a pulmonary embolism (PE) and two deep vein thromboses (DVTs), and my whole life changed.
I wrote about my experience on the blog here, but I think some of it’s worth repeating in light of this recent news.
Serena Williams is only 29, she’s a professional athlete, and I’m assuming receives outstanding medical care. Yet this still happened to her. I was 27, super healthy and in shape, and yet I was not immune either.
The cause of my blood clots was a perfect storm of factors – the birth control pill, long flights, dehydration and a previously undiagnosed clotting mutation called Factor V Leiden. I can’t say this wouldn’t have happened if I stayed hydrated on the flight, moved around a bit more, or stopped taking birth control years ago, but had I known what could happen to me, I definitely would have done many things differently.
While I don’t know the details of her story, I’m assuming at least part of the reason why Serena had a pulmonary embolism is because no one ever thought she could have one and didn’t recognize her risks.
Serious blood clots are becoming more and more common among young women, largely due to birth control pills and risk factors that go unrecognized and undiagnosed.
Pulmonary embolisms kill one in three people that get them.
Here’s some info from my previous post.
What can cause DVTs and PEs?
- Cigarette smoking
- Fractures in the pelvis or legs
- Giving birth within the last 6 months
- Medications such as estrogen and birth control pills
- Recent surgery (especially hip, knee, or female reproductive organ surgery)
- Blood that is more likely to clot
- Sitting for long periods when traveling (this is most likely when one or more other risk factor is also present)
(for a full list, click here)
What are the signs of DVTs?
- Redness in one leg*
- Increased warmth in one leg
- Pain in one leg (it may hurt to place all of your weight on this leg when standing)
- Tenderness in one leg
What are the signs of PEs?
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Feelings of anxiety
- Increased heart rate
I know I’m not a doctor, but having experienced this first-hand, I like to think I know what I’m talking about.
And I talk about it a lot, because I think it’s so, so important for everyone – us, our parents, grandparents, children – to know the risk factors, signs and symptoms of serious blood clots. They can happen to anyone, and I think Serena’s story (and mine) are living proof of this.
Back to my regularly scheduled, light-hearted posting about fuzzy bunnies, rainbows, and (hopefully) more running tomorrow. 🙂
Question: Did you hear about Serena Williams? Did you know what a pulmonary embolism was before reading this post?