About the Author · Learning 101 · Op-Ed · What's Going On

Op-Ed: Oh legitimate news stories – where are you?

Lately I’ve been hearing the under-the-breath grumblings from Americans who are curious to know where they can read legitimate news stories.  Oh what, your Facebook news feed isn’t cutting it anymore?  Seriously, according to my students this quarter social media is where they get most of their daily news.   Apparently it’s true for most Americans.  During the 2016 presidential election many voters chose their candidate based on what they read on Facebook. In a September 2016 article from The Washington Post, How Facebook could swing the election – and who will benefit “Facebook can influence millions of votes by the literal press of a button,” said Michael Brand, a professor of data science at Monash University in Australia.

What is really interesting to me about this topic now in 2017 is that if everyone actually cared about the news they were reading 6-12 months ago, we wouldn’t be having this uneasy feeling to start fact checking everything we read now, including from our most reliable news sources.  I know I don’t like walking around not knowing what just happened in Washington D.C. to the country I love and not knowing what’s the next big news story just around the corner.

In an effort to educate myself and our household, my husband and I agreed we needed to invest in more trustworthy news sources to help educate ourselves with factual news.  We agreed that The Washington Post and The New York Times seem to have the most credible stories with multiple sources being cited in their stories on a regular basis.  I did some research and found that I was able to get a FREE subscription to The Washington Post and a discount subscription to The New York Times because I am an educator.  I applaud these news sources for allowing educators and others to obtain their news with such access.

I feel our current President has put us on a news roller coaster since his inauguration, which is extremely exhausting to follow at times.  While I may not agree with the policies the President has put into place, I feel it is my duty as a tax paying, voting American citizen to educate myself on what is happening to MY country.  I vowed a long time ago to take social responsibility online and to not share any news stories on social media that are nonfactual and not vetted by a credible news source.  I would like to challenge all social media moguls (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg) to make it part of your user online rights and responsibilities to have all your users check off on a “online social responsibility policy”.  There are policies in place that you cannot use online images without the permission of the creator of the image, (and yes thank you to everyone who keeps cutting and pasting the same “rumor” FB policy from 2009), I believe that everyone who wants to help make a more educated and informed society to take the same online social responsibility pledge with me.  I ask everyone to have more accountability online when posting new stories and to not repost anything from a non-credible source.

But realistically money drives our world.  What amount of advertising dollars would Facebook and other social media sites loose if their fake news sources couldn’t post on their website anymore?  What would society be if online trolls who like to stir the pot with fearful posts about what is not actually happening in our country or worldwide do with all their free time?  Wasn’t the internet created for us to share more information at our fingertips and to keep people in touch, but has since torn friendships and families apart?  Take responsibility for your posts, delete them if you think they are untrue, follow up with educated responses when you find someone who is not like-minded as you, and learn to listen more than you speak (or post).

About the Author · Family · What's Going On

Is Maternity Leave Really Over Already?

How does 40 weeks waiting for a baby to arrive take an eternity but 12 weeks (sleep-deprived) while caring for a newborn go by so quickly?  Ah, America!  While I appreciate the 12 weeks that I am “allowed” to take off work from my employer to care for my newborn child, who just started sleeping through the night at 10 weeks, the thought of going back to the daily grind of work is met with mixed emotions.

For us, a lot has happened between Halloween – MLK day.  Here are some highlights: My parents sold our childhood home, moved to a new 55+ condo community and both retired! Our second son was born and baptized and has brought great joy to everyone in our family.  We also bought a new car, well actually a new minivan which I am thrilled about! My husband and I both celebrated our birthdays and we had tons of Christmas / winter holiday fun.

I had this grand plan in my head that because it was my second child I was so ready to really be productive on maternity leave.  You know, unpack boxes from when we moved over the summer, organize my file cabinets, update baby #1’s baby book before baby #2 arrives… ha, yeah right.  Clearly I forgot that I also have a toddler who is my shadow, always wanting to know and see EVERYTHING his Momma is doing while also caring for a newborn.  As you can imagine, I learned and appreciated quite a lot while on my 2nd (and final) maternity leave.  Here are the highlights:

Colicky Babies DO Exist!

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I actually thought this was just something people said when they had a fussy baby. BOY WAS I WRONG! About 3 weeks after our son’s birth he was crying all the time and nothing would console him.  I tried everything to calm him down.  While working on my “I don’t want to compare my two boys” language in my head I really couldn’t have had two more opposite newborns, despite the fact that they look identical.

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Jimmy on the left and Marty on the right – both at 12 hours old. 

After two weeks of trying to change formulas and adjusting my techniques on how to comfort our son, I finally went in to see the doctor.  My exact words to the doctor were, “I don’t want to be one of those parents who says my child won’t stop crying…but my child won’t stop crying”.  He informed me that he’s probably a little colicky, potentially having a bout of acid reflux and gave us a few tricks to try, but ultimately he said that “this too shall pass.” Those words were like throwing gasoline on the fire to sleep deprived parents.  Looking back, I’m so glad we went to the doctor.  Lesson learned: having some piece of mind when parenting is key, even if you don’t have all the answers. It gave my husband and I some piece of mind to know that yes, you have a screaming baby, but you are doing everything you can – and that’s the best you can do.  And yes, the doctor was correct –  about two weeks after our visit our son turned a corner, the screaming stopped and he has been a very good baby since.

Sometimes you’re in survival mode, and that’s okay.

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I know there were days when my parenting dos and don’ts were totally mixed up.  If our toddler wanted to play games for a while on his tablet so I could sit down and have lunch – sure! Actually questioning when was the last time I had a shower or “did I really just have my 5th cup of coffee today?” – common place when you’re in survival mode! Yes, I realize that you need to take care of yourself in order to be a good parent for your child, but sometimes just getting to nap time with the kids or reaching the end of the day without a blowout diaper was the greatest accomplishment.  Lesson learned: everything in moderation is key to keeping balance in our household.  A little time on the tablet when requested was just enough to keep a little toddler happy (and Mommy could enjoy her one a day cup of coffee in peace).

Appreciate the little things in life – like wine and dates

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There were a few days when I would tell my husband I just needed to get out of the house for a bit.  As this maternity leave was in the winter months, cabin fever was raging in our home for everyone.  Taking time to leave the house to shop at Target alone or to get a mani/pedi were far and few between but extremely appreciated when I did them.  I felt like ME again.  I am used to leaving the house at 7am for work and not arriving home until close to 5pm.  Those hours on my commute to and from work and my lunch break were always ME hours.  Having that little ME time when I was able to was and is still clearly something I need to keep my sanity. Date nights were few and far between but we were able to sneak away from the boys to see Rogue One and have dinner at Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Chicago. Lesson learned: Needing to take time away from being parents while still taking care of yourself and your spouse will refresh everything.

A strong circle of other parents is key.

When I was pregnant with my first child and I was trying to put together my baby shower registry, I had posted on Facebook asking what essentials do you need / not need for a new baby?  Once I read all the responses from my post I was totally overwhelmed.  I learned that if I have a question related to a hot button issue of parenting, a text, call or email might be a better form of communication.  Thankfully my husband and I have a good circle of parent friends who are able to share parenting successes and failures about our kids without judgement.  Viewing other people’s posts on group discussion boards or on your own Facebook feed regarding their children can be daunting and really not give you the outcome you desired.  Lesson learned: Trust your instinct regarding your kids.  Every time I have done this my gut has not steered me wrong, including the time when I thought my toddler was having explosive diarrhea from teething with his two-year molars which was the case (and is totally a post for another day).

Kindness of strangers should never be dismissed.

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After our youngest son was born (and he gave us a little scare in the NICU) I returned back to my church to become a regular attendee in mass.  My lack of attending mass had nothing to do with losing my faith in God or anything, I would like to have categorized myself as a lazy catholic. It seemed like such a chore to attend weekly mass when I could just pray daily at home. After much self-reflection, I decided I needed to go back to the roots that my parents instilled in me and start attending mass on a weekly basis.  During our family’s first trip back to mass, I had the good fortune to be greeted after mass by a woman from the parish named Meg who was the group leader for a tiny tot program hosted by the parish on Friday mornings. Meg invited us to participate in the program and our toddler has loved every second of being a part of the class. I call Meg our little angel who in her own sweet way guided our family back to church. I could have just dismissed her kind offer of inviting us to the class, but I’m glad I didn’t. Thank you, Meg, I am forever grateful for your kindness and I hope to pay it forward one day.  Lesson learned:  reflect upon who you were, where you’ve come from and what you’ve become in order to shape your future self. 

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During this maternity leave, I’ve learned to appreciate all the little things that life has to offer.  The boxes in the basement are still not unpacked, the file cabinet is still a mess, and yes the boys baby books are still unfinished.  And it’s okay! Someone once told me that the days are long but the years are short – and that totally rings true for us.  As a Mom, I’m lucky that each day is a blessing, a challenge and a new learning opportunity.  My thought for today – smile through the spit-ups that just landed on your new dress before work, as they are only little for so long. 🙂

About the Author · Op-Ed · What's Going On

Op-Ed: What the National Women’s March and Movement Means to Me 

I tend not to share on social media my personal politic views, as I don’t want to start an argumentative conversation behind a keyboard.  But while posting a video of today’s live feed from CNN showing how many people showed up in Chicago for today’s rally and march, I had a FB friend who seemed to think that today’s march was a bunch of “cry babies” and that today’s will “accomplish nothing” and to “get over it”.  Being an educator by nature I feel like I need to explain what today’s movement really means to thousands of Americans.  Hence why I am hitting the keyboard (extremely aggressively) to have my voice be heard.  Note this is NOT to open the door to an argumentative conversation but an op-ed piece to share my point of view.

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First of all, I want to thank all the #nastywomen and #WomensMarch brigade who hit the pavement this weekend.  I loved your signs, your pictures and videos you shared online.  Thousands of men, women, children, marched to show the solidarity of one thing – THEY WANT TO BE HEARD.  Similar to how many of American had Exercised their first amendment right to assemble for years, so have they.

Right To Assemble

The right to assemble is intricately related to the formation and growth of the philanthropic sector because it answers the need to come together, share common beliefs, and act upon those beliefs (concepts that have been so essential to this sector’s creation). Groups form for many purposes, from reform movements (the Civil War, women’s suffrage, the struggle for civil rights) to charitable organizations that meet specific needs (e.g., the American Red Cross) to churches, mosques and synagogues

What is bothering me today is the lack of education and pure ignorance on the part of many American who don’t quite understand what The National Women’s March is and what it stands for.  So let me share my perspective on what today’s movement means to me.

I am writing to frame today’s march as a movement.  I would hate to see the days spent by thousands across the country in preparation for today is only seen as a march.  I view today’s movement as an awaking to an ideology of a paradigm shift towards understanding the concerns of all Americans, especially the concerns facing all women living in this country.  I am a daughter, wife, mother, aunt, educator, and friend who I would like to do my part in helping create a momentum in sharing this movement beyond this weekend.

20 years ago when I graduated high school I viewed the world very differently.  My goal in life at 18 was to go to college, get a degree, getting married and have kids.  Through expanding my horizons in college and the years beyond, I was given the ability to see the world through a different lens.  Through the past 20 years, I have faced injustices in the workplace, unfair pay because of my gender, reproductive challenges, observed friends who have been denied access to affordable health care due to a predetermined medical condition, and the list goes on and on. While everyone faces different adversities in their lifetime, being ignorant to the challenges of those around you is unacceptable, especially if you have been awarded the presidency of the United State and you represent a country which s made up of people who are facing such adversities.

As I sit here my kitchen of my home, a well-educated mother of two healthy boys, while my loving and supportive husband is at the grocery store it occurs to me there are no traditional gender roles in our home.  Daily we share the duties on who cooks the meals for the day, who takes care of the kids, does the laundry and grocery shopping.  We are a united team in our household and I wish this model could be shared across the country in every home and workplace.

So what can you do to make your mark on the movement?  Volunteer in your community.  Share your talents with the less fortunate not just your opinions.  Make known your voice not just in words but in actions too.  Get informed on local and national politics through credible news sources and practice social responsibility in person and on social media.  For more ideas and information on this movement, please visit their website at https://www.womensmarch.com/.

 

About the Author · Family · Health & Wellness · What's Going On

What I’m Thankful for in 2016

While I’ve been a little MIA the past few weeks, it’s all for a good reason.  On October 26th, my husband, our son (and new big brother) Jimmy and I welcomed a new little member to our family, Martin “Marty” John Reaney at Prentice Women’s Hospital at Northwestern Medicine. Marty was so excited to meet his new family that he came into this world super fast arriving at 7:07am weighing in a 7 lb, 14 oz and 21 inches long.

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As many of you are aware, I take daily blood thinners to prevent any blood clots and because of this I was induced for Marty’s arrival.  We arrived at Prentice at 1:30AM and, after checking-in and getting settled in the L&D room, my IV and Pitocin was started about 3:30AM.  After the contractions became unbearable, I asked the nurse to have the anesthesiologist issue my epidural at about 5:30AM.  About an hour into the epidural I started to think that it wasn’t working because I was having some major pains, but unbeknownst to me it was because Marty was trying to arrive on his own.  My doctor barely arrived in time to deliver the baby!  I labored from start to finish about 3 hours and barely pushed three times before he shot out of me!  Because his arrival was so quick he developed a grunting, which sounded like a soft wheezing sound, due to the amniotic fluid still in his lungs.  While we thought this sweet sound was cute for about the first hour, when it lasted more than 10 hours post-birth, the pediatric team said it was actually caused from fluid in his lungs which usually would have passed within an hour or two post-birth.

Since Marty was still making this grunting sound, the pediatric team admitted him to the NICU for observation until he was discharged from the hospital 48 hours later. While his oxygen and blood levels were completely normal, the NICU started him on two antibiotics via an IV to prevent any infection he might be fighting off, which was another possible cause of the grunting sound.  After his lab work came back all clear, he was finally released from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

We had a few more bumps in the road medically during Marty’s first weeks (i.e. tongue tie which sent us on an ENT visit to Lurie, an abnormal newborn screen blood test which required four days of isolation at home until the test results came back normal–which they did–and the return of the grunting sound which is the result of his esophagus muscles still developing which is also normal). All of these little bumps in the road had me praying a lot to God and all my angels to make sure our little “Miracle Marty” was safe and healthy, and I have also returned to regular mass attendance (which is a post for another day).

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While each year I am so blessed and thankful for my family and friends, who are the best support system I could have ever imagined, this year I am truly thankful for the medical caregivers in my life.  I am so thankful my OB/GYN, my hematologist and our pediatric offices are all connected on the Northwestern system and talk to each other on a pretty regular basis.  I never have to explain my medical history because everyone seems to already know my “case” and is informed on all my medical issues.  Over the past month I have received many calls and follow-up calls directly from my doctors checking in on how I’m doing and how Marty is doing.  It has been overwhelming, and delightfully comforting, to be known as a patient in a large medical practice, not just a number.  Thank you so much to all the caregivers in my life, but especially the unnamed staff and faculty of Northwestern Lurie and Prentice hospitals who continue to give the best care to my little family.  You have made this family so very blessed!

Happy Thanksgiving to All – Love:  Colleen, John, Jimmy & Marty Reaney


 

About the Author

Colleen…Why so Quiet?

Hello Readers:

To be honest, my brain has been a little overloaded these past few weeks.  It’s not that I don’t have topics and stories I would love to write about and share, it’s just that I haven’t found the time to write what I want to say…until now!

The past few months have been crazy and have flown by all at the same time – I cannot even process that August is upon us.  With that being said, here is what I have been up to:

Moving: Yes – we packed up for our first home and moved about a mile away to a larger home in the same neighborhood.  With another little boy due in early November, I wanted to make sure that I had a backyard and plenty of space for my two little boys to run around and play. Plus, as many of you can relate to, I wanted to make sure that I was able to get my little toddler all settled into the new house before we starting setting up a new baby nursery for Baby Reaney.

Planning Jimmy’s 2nd Birthday Party: Okay, really that’s a long shot as to something which is totally take up all my time.  I’m not really that Pinteresty Mommy who’s going to make everything themed for a birthday party (God bless those parents that do – I envy your creativity).  I’m just trying to make sure the house is all settled with furniture in place, boxes tucked away in closets and pictures up on the bare walls before we have guests over.  The basics for the party that I’m working on include invitations, decorations (store bought), a simple BBQ menu and Jimmy’s birthday gifts.

Entering my 3rd Trimester with Baby #2: So as you may have read, my body doesn’t process pregnancy and the hormones that come along with pregnancy very well.  So I’m happy to report that at 26 weeks the daily puking has subsided and, while the heartburn is constant, I’m managing it the best I can via Tums and Zantac.  What’s starting to be a little challenging is that I feel like I’m already running out of room in my belly and I have about three more months to go.  I’m trying to stay hydrated, rested (haha – yeah right, with pregnancy insomnia greeting me from 2-4am every night) and lots of lotion to allow my skin to stretch as much as it can.  Any third trimester survival advice from fellow moms is always welcome and encouraged!

Work/Life Balance: Isn’t this is ultimate time-suck for every mom?  Thoughts that keep me up at night while I’m not sleeping anyways: Am I making enough time for my son to learn his ABC’s and colors?  Am I making enough 1-on-1 time for my husband and me to talk about things other than our toddler and the new house?  Am I balancing my two roles for my job equally while making sure I’m satisfying the needs and requests from all parties I work for and with? Did I build any “me” time into the work week?  (Does going to Target on the weekend count as “me” time?)  All these things I ponder on a daily basis – but when I hear my toddler yell out “oooooo” in the middle of Target when he sees the letter O, I know I must be keeping all the balls in the air this week!

With all that on my plate, you can imaging that I’ve been a little pre-occupied.  Thank God for the Notes section in my Iphone.  I have a few great topics that I’m looking to share with all of you in the next few month:

  • CEO Mommy in Aug. from a local toy store owner
  • A product review on ABCMouse.com
  • Local Store Review on Little Beans Cafe
  • Promotion of a company called The Mom Project

While I’m slowly working on more original content for the blog, please make sure you’re checking out my Facebook page where I’ve been reposting articles I know other parents can relate to.

Thanks to everyone for all your support and encouragement!

Happy Reading! Love: Colleen

 

 

 

About the Author · Family · Health & Wellness

When you want your child to have a sibling….

*This is a post regarding our personal journey and desire to have a second child. The purpose of the post is to educate and inform our family and friends of our journey. Note that the first par of this post was written in November of 2015. 

From the minute a couple becomes engaged the question most people ask is, “So when do you think you guys will start TRYING to have kids?” Trying – since when did that become something people talked about? Even now, I’m very cautious when talking about trying with other couples as you never know what people are going through….like my husband and me.

About two years ago, after trying for several months to conceive, my husband and I had a miscarriage, which broke our hearts terribly. At that time it was hard for us to process what we were going through.  Our doctors, however, said that we should take this event as a positive one and look at the bright side that we were able to conceive and that we should just keep trying now because I would be the most fertile after a miscarriage…and we were! I became pregnant with our son the very next month.

My pregnancy was not an easy one, not by a long shot. Because I have an undiagnosed blood clot disorder, (undiagnosed being that I’ve had two severe blood clots in my legs, DVTs, but no one really knows how or why I got them), I was put on blood thinners even before we started trying. So between the first trimester spotting episodes, the 27 weeks of constant vomiting (and peeing my pants), and rounding out my pregnancy with 24/7 heart burn and uterine contractions, I finally delivered a little boy at 40 weeks and 3 days. My labor was about 24 hours long but the delivery was less than 10 minutes (I’ll spare you the rest of the crazy labor/delivery details).

About 5 days post-delivery I passed a baseball-sized blood clot, which scared the crap out of me! I was taken back into the doctor’s office for an emergency ultrasound to make sure nothing was left over from the delivery. While only a few smaller clots remained in my uterus, the OB/GYN and ultrasound techs were 99% sure that everything was removed. That was until I didn’t stop bleeding! About every two weeks from Sept – January I was getting my period with a much heavier flow than a regular cycle. Could something be wrong? Was my once “like clockwork” period now totally out of wack? My doctor ran some tests which showed that I had precancerous cells on my cervix.  They needed to be removed and could have been causing the abnormal bleeding. Once the cells were removed, I was told, my normal 28-day cycle would return, but that didn’t work. So, after many consultations, the only remaining option was to have a D&C to reset my system. Come February, my very predictable 28 days cycle had finally returned.

That was until my husband and I started trying for our second child. We thought we would love for the kids to be two years apart in school and age, so we started trying. What was different this time around is that I’m not on blood thinners anymore. Currently with my doctor’s support I am in a trial period of being off of blood thinners, as long as I don’t have another clot. With all my doctors giving us the green light to start trying for another baby, and being in good health, I thought this would be an easy process, but in fact it has not been. Since starting the process to try for another baby, my cycles have been off having a period about every two-three weeks. This week I decided my next steps are to see my OB/GYN soon to see her thoughts and to check to make sure everything is a-okay.

At the OB/GYN, she did an exam and ran a few tests, believing my results would take a few days to get back.  The next night, however, my doctor contacted me at home to tell me that my results came back unfavorable.  My AMH levels, which measure fertility in relation to the quantity/quality of egg reserves, was a very low 0.49 (average should be about 4.0).  My doctor explained that, with a low AMH level, the chances of conceiving naturally would prove difficult.  She recommended that we seek the assistance of a fertility specialist, which we have just started to do. While the glass-half-full person in me wants to say, “so you’re telling me there a chance,” realistically, I’m aware it’s a slim one.

While this news was actually shocking and quite disappointing, my husband and I came to the realization that there is nothing we can do about it.  You cannot control nature nor should we ponder the how or why my egg reserve is low.  I’d like to still think that 37 is young, but clearly not ideal for my baby-making. After a good cry, we realized that our road to each other wasn’t easy nor was our path to parenthood, but it’s going to be okay.

But what is the most challenging part of the process is when people ask me, “So are you guys going to have any more kids?” My standard answer has always been “yes, God willing we would love to have more” but reality is starting to set in that maybe our son really is all we are going to have and we might have to be okay with only one child. Yes, my husband and I tell ourselves all the time, “if our son is the only child we ever have then we are really blessed with the best kid in the world!”

What truly breaks my heart is seeing my son wanting so desperately to play with other kids when he’s by himself. He learning how to give hugs, kisses, how to play with others and to share. With his easy-going personality he would be an excellent big brother.  I picture him in my perfect world always going with the flow of a new baby in the house, and with his crazy sleep-deprived parents.

***UPDATE as of 4/20/2016***

At the advice of our doctors we starting seeing a fertility doctor to start the process of having our best odds of becoming parents again. Everyone’s journey is a little different from this point on and with the help of some very talented doctors, it was decided that we would be best suited to try Clomid to maximize our changes of having another baby.  After two months of testing and re-testing, we were given the okay to start Clomid in February.  However, by the grace of God, we didn’t need to start the medication as we conceived a child in January all on our own!41M3p5PYnsL._SY355_

Today, I’m happy to say that I’m in the beginning of my second trimester and Baby Reaney (who we refer to as Baby T-Rex) is progressing nicely.  Just as I experienced with my first child, I’m extremely sick so I’m taking the anti-nausea medication Diclegis to try to limit the amount I am vomiting daily.  Also, to combat any troublesome blood clots that may arise due to the biological complexities of pregnancy, I’m taking a small dosage of Lovenox daily.  I’m also hoping the excessive fatigue wears off soon so I can stay awake past 8:30PM – the DVR is getting pretty full! 🙂

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My husband and I are thrilled to be welcoming another little baby to our clan and we cannot wait to see Jimmy in action as the best big brother ever.  He is already practicing how to be quiet when the baby is sleeping and he gives kisses to my belly often.   This is what it is all about for me.  I knew my body would take a toll carrying another baby, but to give my son a sibling is all I have ever wanted.

About the Author · Health & Wellness

Stop the Clot- know the symptoms 

bcamsquare3March is national blood clot awareness month. I know what you’re thinking, man – there is a month for everything! And yes there is…although I haven’t seen an “I Love Jello” month yet, but I’m sure it in the works.

Anyway, blood clots are something I know far more about than I ever thought I would.  As a two-time DVT survivor (Deep Vein Thrombosis) at ages 27 and 31, I am well aware of what blood clots are and the symptoms that present when one might be on the rise. I feel, since I have this blog platform, I should share with everyone my experiences in the hopes that one day this information may help to save a life.

When I was 27, I had a lump/growth on the side of my right knee.  I went to see an orthopedic surgeon who said that it was a baker’s cyst and it would be easily removed from the leg via an outpatient surgery.  Once I awoke from the survey, he explained that it was a benign mass/tumor which had wrapped itself around my hamstring tendon, which had to be cut and re-attached in order to remove the mass.  I was going to need to stay in the hospital for a few days until I could try to walk on my own with a walker and I would need physical therapy four days a week.  Talk about totally calling an outpatient surgery wrong! 6 days post-surgery, while at physical therapy, my therapist Brian said, “um – you better watch your leg.  It’s starting to look like it’s changing color and you don’t want to throw a blood clot.”

The next morning, I could barely stand in the shower and, yes, my leg was turning completely blue.  We went to the hospital.  The color and size of my leg caused some alarm as I was rushed back to see a doctor immediately as I bypassed the info desk and paperwork.  I had no clue what was happening until after I returned from an ultrasound on my leg which explained that I had a DVT.  My entire main artery from my groin to my ankle on my right leg was completely clogged with a blood clot.  My attending doctor came out and yelled at me, “Do you know how serious this is?  You could have died!”  I then began to cry because I didn’t know what was going on nor how I was supposed to know before the doctor told me the diagnosis.

It was decided from my team of doctors that I was to have an experimental surgery in 2007 called thrombolysis where a catheter is inserted into the vein, allowing the blood clot to be surgically removed, in the hopes of saving the vein and minimizing permanent damage.  The surgery was a success and, after 24 hours in the ICU with a tPA drip running through my vein to remove any remaining clot, the vein was completely cleared out.

From the American Stroke Association’s website (explaining that the drug is often used to minimize permanent damage resulting from ischemic strokes): “Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA, also known as IV rtPA, given through an IV in the arm). tPA works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow.”

After many, MANY doctors, hematologists, oncologists, rheumatologists, medications, at-home meters and ample blood tests later, it was ruled that I have a hypercoagulative blood disorder…but they still have not been able to diagnose it exactly.  I do not have any genetic triggers or anything in my blood that would suggest otherwise, but for what the doctors know now, my blood randomly will clot on it own for no reason. Hence, in 2010, I threw another blood clot, another DVT, in the same leg after completing the Susan G. Komen 60-Mile Breast Cancer Walk.  As frustrating as it was to go through this experience again, I am more aware of my body now and when the potential symptoms of a clot may be presenting themselves.

I reached out to a great nonprofit called the National Blood Clot Alliance which was gracious enough to allow me to use their materials in an effort to spread awareness of their organization.

NBCA-Infographic1As a young female, I was completely unaware of the risks I was under when taking birth control.  Because of my history with DVTs, I was also going to be at risk when trying to get pregnant and during my pregnancies.  Here is an inforgraphic directly related to this:

infographic

For more information on the risks associated with blood clots, please visit the National Blood Clot Alliance website.  Please also feel free to contact me and/or to share your experiences on this blog so that others may be more aware of the potential hazards, things to avoid, and survivor stories regarding blood clots.

The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, voluntary health organization dedicated to advancing the prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and clot-provoked stroke.

NBCA works on behalf of people who may be susceptible to blood clots, including, but not limited to, people with clotting disorders, atrial fibrillation, cancer, traumatic injury, and risks related to surgery, lengthy immobility, child birth and birth control.

NBCA accomplishes its mission through programs that build public awareness, educate patients and healthcare professionals, and promote supportive public and private sector policy.