A few days after my last post I started feeling some really sharp pain in my rib cage on the right side. I had been back running since my kidney stone removal surgery for a few days and just figured it was my kidney healing. After a couple days of it only getting worse, to the point of breathing being incredibly painful, I had to make another trip to the ER. After a CTscan I was completely shocked to find out that I had a couple of blood clots in my lungs and that I had to be immediately admitted into the hospital to start treatment.
My first question was, how could this have happened? The doctors told me that anytime a person undergoes surgery, especially in the torso region, you run the risk of developing clots. A few days after the kidney stone surgery I was quite sedentary because I was so tired and nauseous from all the medications. The doctors told me that if I hadn’t been quite so sedentary it’s possible I could have prevented the clots from forming. Unfortunately the urologist that did my surgery did not inform me of this. Knowing this made it doubly hard to be in the hospital for a week without being angry. I decided to just focus on not having a bad attitude while I tried to heal. I’ve learned through all of my set-backs that being positive through adverse times will significatly help you get through them. Fortunately I found out that I will be able to make a full recovery and be able to run like I did before. Being patient with introducing running and exercise will be a must as I’ll be easily winded until the blood clots dissolve. I also got losts of reassurance after exchanging messages with Kim Smith and Carly Graytock Shea, both high level runners who have also had blood clots in their lungs. They filled me in on their recovery time and their overall experiences. It turns out, while it is very serious, it is more common than I thought in runners to form clots, so that made me feel a little better. After watching a great documentary on Venus and Serena Williams the other day I learned that Serena had surgery and then developed blood clots in her lungs. She overcame it and just six months later took second at The U.S. Open. Both Carly Shea and Kim Smith also said they set PB’s about six months later and beyond. All of this has really helped me realize that things are going to be ok.
Just a week after I was discharged I got back to training. I wasn’t allowed to do anything with much impact so I tried the elliptical. On the first day I went slower than I had ever gone before, felt more out of breath than ever before, and still had a stabbing pain in my side where the largest clot is. I managed to stick it out every day that week because I noticed a good amount of improvment each day. And a week ago this past Sunday, I tried my first run in 23 days. It was only three miles and incredibly slow, but I felt a little better than I expected. My breathing was very short and shallow, especially going up any kind of an incline, but it was manageable. Since then, each run has gotten a little easier and I’ve been able to run faster and further each day. The plan for this week will be to continue with the elliptical everyday along with light running and then gradually increase my mileage in the following weeks. I’ll be hydrating more than ever from now on so my PowerBar drink mixes will be right there with me all the way.
I couldn’t be happier to be back running and making progress. I have to credit everyone that came to visit me in the hospital, sent flowers or cards, and called to lift my spirits. Steve and Beth Shisler, both stand out PSU track alums, were super kind to visit. Beth, a former nurse at Mt.Nittany Hospital, was especially a huge help with so much important advice, thank you so much. As we drove down Park Ave., minutes after I was discharged from the hospital, we saw our friend and owner of Rapid Transit Sports, Terry, going for a run. We rolled down our windows and yelled out “Hey!” He yelled back that he was on his way to visit me in the hospital. We laughed, thinking he was just kidding, but we found out later that he really was running to the hospital to see me and that after he saw us he had to figure out a new running destination. Adding to a great homecoming, as we pulled up to our place, there was a package sitting in the door from Oiselle. The new gear was of course awesome and I immediately connected with the Onward Tee realizing it was going to be my moto for the next few weeks and months. Oiselle has been super supportive and understanding in all of this which is more positive energy aiding in the recovery.
Two weeks ago we also had our first week of State High XC pre-season practices. I thought it might be a little rough starting back training and coaching at the same time and only a week after getting out of the hospital but it turned out to be a really smooth transition. The combination of my amazing support system coupled with being surrounded by 65 young gals reved with excitment for the sport was a huge boost and the supercharge I needed once again to keep pushing onward!