March is Blood Clot Awareness Month

Blood clots kill one person every six minutes, on average. Many deaths can be prevented with recognizing the symptoms and getting immediate medical attention.

Being aware of the symptoms makes the difference between life and death. Here’s my post from March 16, 2014, in which I share some life saving tips. Feel free share this information with friends and family.

I Choose Life

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick, published on 17 February 2012 Stock Image - image ID: 10073347, from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick, published on 17 February 2012 Stock Image – image ID: 10073347, from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

March is Blood Clot Awareness Month and since I had a clot in my left lung last summer, this is a great time to share some life saving tips to my friends. 350,000 – 600,000 people in the United States develop blood clots every year. About 100,000 people in the U.S. die each year from blood clots, which means that about 1 in 3 may die.

The difference between life and death is awareness of the symptoms and seeking immediate medical attention at an emergency room. Quick medical intervention is what saves lives. A devastating and unfortunate occurrence is misdiagnosis – medical professionals confusing blood clot symptoms with other conditions like pneumonia.

Even if you do not personally experience symptoms, a friend or relative might and you can urge your loved ones to seek immediate medical attention. I choose to live and I want others to live long lives, too.

Blood clotting is your body’s natural way to prevent bleeding out when you sustain a serious cut or wound. Sometimes blood clots form when and where they are not supposed to, which could lead to pulmonary embolisms, strokes, heart attacks, and death. Blood clots that are created inside a blood vessel,can cause swelling in your legs and travel up to vital organs. In my case, we’re not exactly sure, but my clot may have started in my leg when I bumped it on the edge of my bed, and then traveled up to my left lung, causing a pulmonary embolism. Link to my blood clot story: https://abundantlifeinitiative.com/2014/01/04/kimbery-jo-cooleys-blood-clot-story/

I am still on blood thinners, but I also say this affirmation: “My blood clots when and where it is supposed to.” Update: I now  say, “my blood flows freely and does what it needs to do to sustain my body.”

I am blessed with attentive and knowledgeable medical providers and a great resource in http://www.stoptheclot.org.

I have to emphasize there are some people who exhibit NO risk factors and still have spontaneous blood clots, which is why I find writing this blog post necessary. It’s still important to know the risk factors and critically important to know the symptoms.

According to Stop the Clot, the risk factors are:

  • Family history of blood clots, especially in parents, sisters and brothers
  • Recent hospital stay or surgery
  • Chronic medical illness or long-term bed rest
  • Limited ability to move
  • Recent trauma or injury
  • Cancer or cancer treatment
  • Knee or hip replacement surgery
  • Obesity
  • Using birth control pills or hormone replacement
  • Pregnancy or immediately after having a baby (C-Sections further increase this risk)
  • Traveling more than 4 hours by plane, car, train or bus (without walking around)

Deep Vein Thrombosis: Signs and Symptoms

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs but sometimes in your arm.

  • Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm)
  • Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or Charley horse
  • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
  • Leg (or arm) warm to touch

These symptoms of a blood clot may feel similar to a pulled muscle or a “Charlie horse,” but may differ in that the leg (or arm) may be swollen, slightly discolored, and warm. Contact your doctor if you have these symptoms, because you may need treatment right away.

Pulmonary Embolism: Signs and Symptoms

Clots can break off from a DVT and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus

I now have to take frequent work breaks to walk around as I have a sedentary job where I sit for hours each day. I take blood thinners and go to my medical provider once a month to have my blood checked to ensure no blood clots will form based on my blood levels (Update: Sometimes I have to go to the clinic more frequently when my medication needs adjustment). It has been an eye opening experience, to say the least. But, I choose life. I choose to share what I’ve learned from my experience with others, so they can choose life, too.

Additional Resources:

http://www.stoptheclot.org/

http://bloodclotrecovery.net/

http://www.bloodclot.org/

~Your Curator of all things Abundant, Kimberly Jo Cooley

Reference:

The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2008.

http://www.stoptheclot.org/learn_more/blood_clot_symptoms__dvt.htm

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Are Your Health Goals in Alignment with Your Values?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, 2013, from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, 2013, from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

I and many others are embarking on a health and wellbeing journey. It has not been easy, but it has already reaped rewards and it’s because my resolutions are in alignment with my values (finally!).

Weight Management: I am not particularly interested in calorie counting or counting pounds. In fact, I am not going to weigh myself until my biometric screening in June. Counting lost or gained pounds are counterproductive – especially when one is building muscle mass as they work out.

Others find solace in seeing lost pounds, whereas I find solace in feeling great, having tons of energy and sleeping well at night. I want overall wellbeing – few to no colds, a general sense of great health, and a knowing that my body is thriving.

There’s no right or wrong way to look at weight management. What’s most important is whether or not your weight management styles are in alignment with your true values.

Nutritious Diet: I value consuming lots of fruits and vegetables. My mother gifted me a NutriBullet for Christmas and I now I am cultishly juicing/extracting everyday. I’m hooked. Now I crave fruits and vegetables over chips and cookies. Juicing assists with my value of consuming a large amount of fruits, vegetables and nuts. I don’t beat myself up over having a meal at a diner or a dessert. I know I am in the land of the living and sometimes I want to indulge. I make all the conditions in my life to allow me to easily eat or drink when and what I want.

Moderation is key. Because I am on blood thinners, I can only consume a small amount of alcohol, so I save drinking for special occasions. I eat everything in moderation and never feel compelled to finish everything on my plate. I am a lifelong naturally slow eater, which I’m told is a good thing (a pain for my friends and family, but a good digestive/metabolic thing for me).

Exercise: I was the biggest gym rat ten years ago – going five to six times a week. Before that, I would rally up friends to take belly dancing classes with me. I do not have a gym membership presently, but I do have my beloved elliptical machine in my garage, some great 1980s ab workout videos and YouTube exercise How-tos. I also have my sneakers and long, suburban blocks to walk. There are several parks in walking distance that I can jog to. I may get a gym membership, but I have exercise at my fingertips right now, free of charge.

So many of us think we have to go to the gym and that there’s one way to fitness. Fortunately, there are many paths to great physical fitness that can be aligned to our personal values – not just what’s the latest fitness fad or what others are doing to stay fit.

Meditation: My relationship with meditation has strengthened over the last year. I carve out ten to fifteen minutes of my lunch break most work days to meditate. I book an empty conference room, turn down the lights, tune in to my YouTube meditation channels on my cellphone and I meditate. Sometimes, it feels like I’ve left my body, the building, the planet, only to become aware of reentry into my physical being when the music or chants stop. Meditation is what grounds us and at the same time releases us from the clutches of worry, anxiety, and earthly issues. I am most proud of myself for continuing to meditate on a regular basis, even at work.

Singing: I don’t sing for others, I sing for myself. I sing when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m driving, and when I’m feeling silly or serious. Singing is a form of exercise and meditation for me, all mixed into one. After losing my breath during my pulmonary embolism episode, I value feeling good and breathing. I can breathe, damn it!

What makes us beautifully human is our ability to sing, dance and be merry. Love your body, this earthly vessel that carries you. When we forget to love ourselves, our body communicates to us what is needed to get back into alignment. Sometimes that communication is illness, injury, or depression.

When we start to recognize and honor our values, our goals naturally flow and align to and from them, effecting lasting, positive changes in our lives.

~Your Curator of All Things Abundant, Kimberly Jo Cooley

I Choose Life

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick, published on 17 February 2012 Stock Image - image ID: 10073347, from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick, published on 17 February 2012 Stock Image – image ID: 10073347, from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

March is Blood Clot Awareness Month and since I had a clot in my left lung last summer, this is a great time to share some life saving tips to my friends. 350,000 – 600,000 people in the United States develop blood clots every year. About 100,000 people in the U.S. die each year from blood clots, which means that about 1 in 3 may die.

The difference between life and death is awareness of the symptoms and seeking immediate medical attention at an emergency room. Quick medical intervention is what saves lives. Another unfortunate occurrence is misdiagnosis – medical professionals confusing blood clot symptoms with other conditions like pneumonia.

Even if you do not personally experience symptoms, a friend or relative might and you can urge your loved ones to seek immediate medical attention. I choose to live and I want others to live long lives, too.

Blood clotting is your body’s natural way to prevent bleeding out when you sustain a serious cut or wound. Sometimes blood clots form when and where they are not supposed to, which could lead to pulmonary embolisms, strokes, heart attacks, and death. Blood clots that are created inside a blood vessel,can cause swelling in your legs and travel up to vital organs. In my case, we’re not exactly sure, but my clot may have started in my leg when I bumped it on the edge of my bed, and then traveled up to my left lung, causing a pulmonary embolism. Link to my blood clot story: https://abundantlifeinitiative.com/2014/01/04/kimbery-jo-cooleys-blood-clot-story/

I am still on blood thinners, but I also say this affirmation: “My blood clots when and where it is supposed to.”

I am blessed with attentive and knowledgeable medical providers and a great resource in http://www.stoptheclot.org.

I have to emphasize there are some people who exhibit NO risk factors and still have spontaneous blood clots, which is why I find writing this blog post necessary. It’s still important to know the risk factors and critically important to know the symptoms.

According to Stop the Clot, the risk factors are:

  • Family history of blood clots, especially in parents, sisters and brothers
  • Recent hospital stay or surgery
  • Chronic medical illness or long-term bed rest
  • Limited ability to move
  • Recent trauma or injury
  • Cancer or cancer treatment
  • Knee or hip replacement surgery
  • Obesity
  • Using birth control pills or hormone replacement
  • Pregnancy or immediately after having a baby (C-Sections further increase this risk)
  • Traveling more than 4 hours by plane, car, train or bus (without walking around)

Deep Vein Thrombosis: Signs and Symptoms

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs but sometimes in your arm.

  • Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm)
  • Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or Charley horse
  • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
  • Leg (or arm) warm to touch

These symptoms of a blood clot may feel similar to a pulled muscle or a “Charlie horse,” but may differ in that the leg (or arm) may be swollen, slightly discolored, and warm. Contact your doctor if you have these symptoms, because you may need treatment right away.

Pulmonary Embolism: Signs and Symptoms

Clots can break off from a DVT and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus

I now have to take frequent work breaks to walk around as I have a sedentary job where I sit for hours each day. I take blood thinners and go to my medical provider once a month  to have my blood checked to ensure no blood clots will form based on my blood levels. It has been an eye opening experience, to say the least. But, I choose life. I choose to share what I’ve learned from my experience with others, so they can choose life, too.

~Your Curator of all things Abundant, Kimberly Jo Cooley

Reference: 

The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2008.

http://www.stoptheclot.org/learn_more/blood_clot_symptoms__dvt.htm

Kimbery Jo Cooley’s Blood Clot Story

My very first published piece is located on stoptheclot.org! And, it is something that is (literally) near and dear to my heart. My health crisis, has become a blessing in so many ways. I felt an urge to get my story out, to save even just one life. The original posting is on http://www.stoptheclot.org/news/kimbery-jo-cooleys-blood-clot-story.htm:

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I’m a thirty three year old, healthy mother of three children, and I was diagnosed with a Pulmonary Embolism in July, 2013.

I vaguely recall bumping my left shin on my platform bed, and feeling a leg cramp. It had been a long time since I had a leg cramp, but figured I needed to eat more bananas for potassium, which helps prevent leg cramps.

A week later, Saturday, July 13th, I felt a tightness in my chest. I thought, “Gee, I am gaining weight!” I was breathing shallowly, but assumed the Sacramento summer heat was getting to me.

The following Monday morning, I drove to work and I was feeling a little lightheaded. I called my mother once I got to work. She told me to call the doctor. I thought my mother was overreacting, and I told her if the tightness persists, I’d consider making an appointment.

That day, I climbed a set of steep stairs near my office building, which I normally had no problem doing; but this day, every step was agonizing. I couldn’t catch my breath, and had to pause with each step. I still didn’t think anything was wrong – just assumed it was time to start a new exercise regimen. On the drive home from work, I felt the tightness again, so much so, I needed to take my bra off.

Tuesday was the same symptoms, only more intensified. As I breathed, there were sharp pains on the left side of my chest and I couldn’t take a deep breath. I’d listen to Podcasts and had trouble comprehending what was being said. On my drives to and from work, it felt like I was even starting to black out.

On Wednesday morning, I barely made it to work. I was so dizzy and disoriented by the time I arrived. My mother called me and asked me how I was feeling. I told her, “like crap.” She demanded I call Kaiser’s advice nurses and make an appointment. I was so busy at work. I was a new arbitration specialist for an auto insurance company. I had workaholic tendencies, and the thought of going to the doctor felt like a waste of time.

I decided to listen to my mother because the dizzy episodes were starting to freak me out.

I called the advice nurse. She placed me on hold to consult the on-call doctor. When she got back on the line, she said, “I do not want to alarm you, but you need to get an ambulance or have a co-worker drive you to the ER (emergency room) right now.” I was like, why? She proceeded to tell me that I had life threatening symptoms, and then said, “I wish you all the best. I am sending you waves of light. May God bless you.”

I began to sob. I called my husband and he picked me up to take me to the ER. I was too cheap to call for an ambulance, and I really didn’t want to bother my co-workers in the event that there was nothing really wrong.

I went to the ER and the staff attended to me right away. They ran some blood tests, one of which was a D-dimer test. While the nurses were out, I googled on my smart phone what a D-dimer test was for. I realized it was to rule out blood clots. A few minutes later, a doctor confirmed the diagnosis.

A CT scan confirmed I had a blood clot in my left lung. I was prescribed Lovenox injections and Warfarin. Two days later, I was back in the ER with excruciating pain on my left side. The ER doctor explained that the pain I was feeling was the area where the PE was caused that part of the lung to die – a pulmonary infarction. They gave me Norco for the pain and I went home.

I feel like a combination of things caused my PE. I have a sedentary job where I sit for many hours per day. I bumped my left leg, which likely caused a DVT (blood clot in the leg). I was once a smoker. I did test negative for genetic clotting disorders. They still do not know officially what caused it, so I will be on blood thinners the rest of my life.

I made some changes in my life. I take frequent breaks at work now. I exercise. I go to the doctor when unusual symptoms pop up, despite what the financial costs may be. I now put my health first in my list of priorities.

Take Home messages
·Blood clots can happen to young, seemingly healthy people.
·Seek medical attention for symptoms that seem like a muscle pull or soreness, especially when they seem to get worse, since DVTs often appear in that way.
·Get care right away in the ER for chest pain or shortness of breath.
·Pay attention to unusual shortness of breath and seek medical help as soon as possible.
·Immobility can increase your risk of blood clots.
·Trauma to the leg can increase your risk of blood clots.
·Listen to your body and go to the doctor when something doesn’t feel right.