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Survivor - My Journey to Health

My 3-Year Anniversary of Surviving Deadly Blood Clots

· health

Today marks the 3-year anniversary of being alive! The day after Christmas, 2014, I woke up feeling unable to breathe and having severe chest pain. I though I was having a heart attack. Turns out I was half right.

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.

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 ended up being on oxygen 24/7 at home for 4 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.

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!

Over the months I gradually was able to walk 10 and then 15 minutes a time. My recovery was painfully slow, and not being able to teach or do science and being trapped at home got to me. Recovery was mentally and physically hard.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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. What good choices do you make each day?

I can't wait to share my new platform for you to share your stories, mentor others with your medical conditions, and live the best life you can! 2018 is a #NewYearNewYou!

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