Blood Clot Survivor - My Journey Back To Health

Celebrating 6 years of being a blood clot survivor!

The day after Christmas, 2014, I woke up feeling unable to breathe and having severe chest pain, despite being an otherwise healthy 32 year old woman. I thought I was having a heart attack. Turns out I was half right.

Shout out to all my friends that are #survivors. A year ago I was applying for a professor position when this happened & stopped me in my tracks. So happy to say I’ve circled back & finally on the same track now that I’m healthy enough to do take on the responsibilities of teaching students & running a lab. A year ago doctors failed to diagnose blood clots in my leg & both lungs, despite going to the ER 5 times in 3 weeks & suddenly ending up in a wheelchair due to not being able to walk on my left leg. It was only after having a heart attack that the hospital did anything for me. My lung had collapsed & all my pulmonary arteries were blocked. It was a miracle I survived, as most pulmonary embolism patients die in their sleep, even the young ones. The damage to my lungs & body and weakness caused by not be able to breath much air in for months meant I was in a wheelchair, then walker, then cane & my painful recovery took months. I’m pretty sure I’m never going to run a marathon, but I’m happy to say after a year that I can stand for more than 5 minutes at a time, I can walk around a museum, and I can even swim for 10 minutes. I am grateful for what I can do and always pushing my limits, taking into consideration the fibromyalgia & neuropathy I’ve been left with. Life is precious, enjoy the people you are with & each breathe you take. Exhale all the bad energy before it suffocates you! And always trust your body & get a second medical opinion, I would be dead if I did not get taken to a 2nd ER in the same day. #chronicallyawesome #fibromyalgia #pulmonaryembolism #bloodclot

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274 people die every day to blood clots. While the majority of patients are retirement age, young women in particular can get blood clots due to hormonal birth control. To learn more visit the National Blood Clot Alliance: https://www.stoptheclot.org.

recognize the signs and symptoms of blood clots

I hate things on my face and tags on my clothes. Yet this oxygen mask was to be a permanent accessory for almost half a year after my pulmonary embolisms.

I can #breathe! Yeah oxygen! #hospital #denver #lungbloodclots #imalive #thankful #hotmess

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I ended up being on oxygen 24/7 at home for four months, and had to lug a huge portable oxygen tank that weighed like 20 pounds when I left the house. It was too heavy for me, so it got added to the backpack of my wheelchair.

My new #BFF my #oxygen #robot.

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I ended up with a walker to encourage me to stay active, as blood clots could recur if I stayed in bed all day. The problem was with my lungs damaged and super painful, I had little energy to even stand up, never mind walk. It took me walking for 5 minutes a day for a month to start to get some stamina back, and it was the most incredibly painful and grueling experience I ever had.

I even had to have someone push my oxygen tank behind me, because I wasn’t strong enough to push my walker and the oxygen tank. I also would lose feeling in my left leg and both feet at times, so I couldn’t walk unassisted because I would fall over without warning. Man I was a hot mess!

My new #whip. #walker #PE #recovery #dontmesswithmeillblowyouup #oxygentank #mostinterestingwomanonsocialmedia #lol

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Unfortunately my health issues weren’t over. I was actually scheduled for surgery for endometriosis in January 2015, but that had to be rescheduled to the summer because I was on blood thinners and could bleed to death during or after surgery.

I was still using my walker when I entered the hospital for surgery. I was quite scared of adding more pain and recovery to an already exhausting full-time job as disabled patient. Was there ever a time when you’re like why me? We’ve all been there.

#surgery day! #endometriosis #endowarrior #endosister #endo #ic #chronicallyawesome #hospital #selfie

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I weaned myself off of opiates, Lyrica, and tons of other medications that were making me so sick I need to go the hospital weekly from side effects. Quitting cold turkey from my prescription of ms-contin (morphine) was one of the hardest things I had ever done, but it got easier with CBD and then THC edibles.

Slowly but surely I started to recover with the help of cannabis suppositories, cannabis edibles, topicals, CBD tinctures, and even vaping cannabis. I actually credit my lungs healing faster than they should of due to CBD and THC being anti-inflammatory and helping my lungs get rid of scar tissue and blood clots.

I still to this day avoid smoking joints or cannabis in pipes because it irritates my sensitive lungs, but that’s ok. Listen to your body and be ok with consuming cannabis the way YOU need to.

The exciting thing was when I was off my walker and onto walking with a cane. Finally, by spring of 2016, I could walk without a cane and stand up for almost an hour without passing out from fatigue. I was so happy! I started to host cannabis educational conferences with IMPACT Network and traveled to meet colleagues and lobby for cannabis legalization.

I am a neuroscientist & I support the CARERS Act. #CARERSAct reschedule #cannabis from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, acknowledging the medical benefits of #marijuana & allowing researchers like me and those at @theimpactnet to do the #research that is needed to create treatments for #cancer, #PTSD, #addiction & so many conditions. #fundcannabisresearch #cannabiscommunity #mmj #thc #cbd #LegalizeCannabis #legalizeit #safeaccess

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A year and a half later in the summer of 2017 I was feeling more and more like myself. I can do fun things like play kickball with former NFL football players like Eben Britton of Athletes For Care and workout at cannabis gyms like Break the Stigma Fitness. I still can’t run 10Ks like I used to before my blood clots, but I can power through an hour long workout thanks to the pain relief from cannabis.

And yes, I’m wearing a THC molecule necklace in the picture below. Cannabis saved my life and I spark a conversation about it each day.

Beautiful day at the 420 Games in #Denver! Got to play kickball in the Athletes For Care Tournament on Team #williesreserve! #420games #cannabiscommunity #research #IMPACTcannabis #fibromyalgia #mmj #thc #cbd #cannafit #chronicallyawesome #breakthestigma

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I posted this about a week before I started feeling symptoms of my DVT blood clot in my leg and I still felt healthy. Three years later, I would use the same words to describe my life now. What words would you use to describe your life?

3 words to describe me. #awake #alive #blessed What are your 3 words?

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Just remember, you are not your disease or your injury. You are stronger than you know, and your strength will inspire others. I still have good days and bad days with fibromyalgia and other issues, but I am proactive about my health. I make sure I eat healthy, do yoga and breathing for meditations, and avoid alcohol so that I can be the best me I can be.

You can get through tomorrow #bestrong #makegoodchoices

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What good choices do you make each day?