Back To The Future

The first month and a bit of the new year has been full of delightful surprises! I feel like my life has changed again in such a small amount of time it’s cray cray! But wow I’m loving 2018! So where to begin? I’ll start with the best news I could possibly wish for. At the beginning of January I received a phone call from my haematology Doctor who informed me that I can officially come off my medication for my blood clots! YAY! No more setting my 5pm alarm every day to remind me to take my tablet and have a snack (My daily snack I’ll keep going though, I’ll miss eating my packet of crisps lol). At first I was buzzing, I felt free and that I was finally getting better! But soon enough paranoia kicked in. I was scared that all that was stopping me from developing another clot now, is my compression sock. I never want to go through that pain and stress ever again. The medication kept my mind at rest that I couldn’t possibly develop any more blood clots. But now I’m off of the meds. It’s vital that I keep my health and mental wellbeing as positive and healthy as can be. I’m ensuring I drink about 2 litres a day so I’m always hydrated and I’m having some me time in-between my busy schedule of full time work and training. I don’t want to feel burnt out again or mentally exhausted. By taking all these precautions I feel the little paranoid thought of getting anymore blood clots have subsided. Now I’m feeling really excited about my future plans and goals. I’m using the past heartbreak and pain to spur me on and I’m more determined to achieve success in every aspect of my life.

Once I got the all clear to stop taking my meds. I decided now’s the time to start upping my training. I mean there’s nothing holding me back anymore, so why not?! Like an excitable child on Christmas Day, I upped my training. Unfortunately my sensible head was away on holiday that week and I ran with my heart. I tried to run the highest mileage week since pre clot (It was nothing special but I was aiming for 30 miles) and I was also attempting to fit in three faster sessions (I’d only done a handful of faster sessions during my recovery), it actually gets worse….. I also wanted one of those said faster sessions to be completed on the track, which I haven’t stepped foot on since August last year (I’m face palming at my stupidity). As you can predict when I was hitting the back straight of the track on the forth 800m rep, my (“good”) calf completely pulled up. I hobbled back and it was in that moment that my brain came back off vaycay and I realised that I’d totally overdone it. I was gutted for a day. But the new positive thinking Mel kicked in. I took a step back and reflected on what I want to achieve and how I could realistically go about achieving it. So I made some decisions about my athletics. From the whole clot experience I’ve realised that I’m happy simply just putting one foot in front of another. But if I keep getting injured then I’m not going to be able to do what makes me happiest of all. I need to eliminate the injury risks. I’ve decided, for this year anyway, to step away from the track and focus on the road, and depending on my health, aim for a cross country season. I’ll try racing longer distances like 10km and maybe even a half marathon (if I’m brave/fit enough!). This break from track isn’t a permanent decision. I feel like I need to get stronger physically (It’s a good job I now work in a gym) before I can wear spikes and hit top speed. I’ll be racing distances and on a surface that I’m not experienced in, it’s a brand new challenge. I can set myself new PB’s and targets. I’m so excited! This decision also helped me make another one! I’ve joined my old athletics club! I’m back home at Milton Keynes. It’s where my heart is and where the best memories I have of the sport I love are. I can’t wait to start racing for them again! And of course me being me, I do have my eye on some club records lol! Sometimes in life you just have to go back to where you came from. Change is good sometimes as it keeps things fresh and helps to make you focus on what you want out of life.

I feel like a new person and that a weight lifted off of my shoulders when 2017 ended. All the negative energy of the past year vanished as soon as 2018 started. I’ve started the year surrounded by my amazing and supportive family, friends and boyfriend (another surprise 2018 brought me lol). I’ve actually got running goals and planned races for the summer! There is so much more to look forward to, I’d probably bore you if I was to list them all. But for now I’m going to keep working hard and let’s hope this fab start to the year continues!

Goodbye 2017!

Starting a new year fills me with such so much happiness. Hands down 2017 has been the worst year of my life. But in some ways it has been a year that’s taught me the most about life, people and myself. I like to think that this year has changed me for the better. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to see the back of it and I’m definitely going to drink too much prosecco to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived the year…..just about!

It’s hard not to feel reflective when one year ends and a fresh new one starts. 2017 hasn’t been all bad. I graduated, started to learn how to drive, found my love for running again, got a new job (2 in fact lol) and my beautiful niece Orla was born. As much as I don’t want to write about the negatives because that’s not how I want to roll. I will say this. I’ve learnt that life is about being happy and healthy. It sounds cliché and yes I know everyone says it. I mean there’s probably a cheap plaque with this quote on it, being sold in B and M bargains. But I truly know the meaning of this now. There’s been a few times in the past couple of months that have stopped me in my tracks and made me realise how far I’ve come and how life events have changed me.

The first moment was when I was picking my mum up from work. I just blurted out randomly “I didn’t realise it wasn’t normal to not be happy every day.” When I was living at uni with my narcissist boyfriend, I hated waking up. I didn’t want to face the day. I know now that I lived every day for 3 years feeling unhappy and not even finding joy in the most simplest of things, like when your jam comes on at work or eating a family bar of aero to yourself. Now I wake up most days (I’m only human after all, sometimes life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns) buzzing and ready to be sassy with whatever the day brings.

The second realisation was when I started my first new job, which I didn’t particularly enjoy. I had to stand at the reception desk (they wouldn’t let me sit down for the 8.5 hour shift, despite giving them a doctor’s note stating that I had to because of my clots!) and I started getting this achy pain in my chest. I thought to myself “ahh no I must be stressed!” that’s when it dawned on me that I hadn’t felt this pain in a while. But I had suffered from this pain in my chest for the last 6 months of my time at uni. I was solidly stressed with my dissertation and being in a mentally abusive relationship. This meant that the smallest things would make me stressed. Because looking back I wasn’t coping with life very well. I was a shell of myself. Struggling mentally, I felt old before my time and it was like I had a chimp on my back. After that stressed filled shift, I decided to search for another job. Because I didn’t want to sacrifice my health, life is too short to be wasting time doing something that doesn’t make you happy. And you’re only young for a short amount of time, so go out there be yourself and go after what you want. Going for a new job after only 2 months is not like me at all. I’m stubborn and won’t quit anything. I mean take university. I hated that for 3 years, but my pig headedness meant that I finished it and it destroyed me in the process. I really have got a perspective of what really matters. Now I’m in a job that I love and enjoy! In the past quitting or changing my situation I would have thought I was being weak and letting myself down. But changing jobs has given my life more value and happiness.

My next pause for thought came when I was watching old family videos. I was watching me as a 10 year old running and joking. To put it simply I was bonkers and fearless. I was singing and dancing in public all the time! It’s sad as we get older we become more bogged down. I decided to make a promise to myself. Be the person my younger self would want me to be. And although I’m not totally there yet. I feel like I’m becoming that fearless women again.

At the end of October I decided to have a clear out of my phone. I kept getting that annoying message pop up that said I had no storage left! So I transferred all my pictures onto my laptop. I had 500 pictures. Mainly from my birthday night out, nothing beats a snapchat selfie with your best friend! But there was a picture of me taken the week before my dissertation deadline. I actually remember taking it. It was 2am, I had just had a mini breakdown so I thought why not take selfie lol? I honestly looked ill. I’m not brave enough to share this horrific selfie with you. However, I was grey, my eyes purple from lack of sleep. My hair flat and greasier than a family bucket at KFC. When I saw this picture it shook me how ill I looked, that I cried. I couldn’t believe that I could neglect my health and mental wellbeing so much. I was dead behind my eyes. So another promise to myself. Nothing would ever get me that unhappy ever again.

The last moment came on November 15th, it was the day the Victoria Secret store opened in Milton Keynes. And I went up there by myself and spent £150 on new underwear. Why is this significant? Well, because this is when I realised how controlling my ex was. (He didn’t let me spend my OWN hard earned money on myself, or anyone else for that matter, then he would shout at me regularly and ignored me for a few weeks because I had some savings! I simply couldn’t do anything right) So here I was in the most luxurious lingerie shop buying myself £150 worth of the fittest underwear for myself because it makes me feel good about myself (plus I wanted the free tote bag lol). I felt empowered. I can do what I want when I want. I’m in control of my life.

2017 has been a year of lessons and mistakes. But I’ve come through it a stronger and more positive person. I’ll approach 2018 as a new better version of myself. My goals are to be driving my smooth green Fiat 500. Then run a PB in any distance. And in my end of season break jet off to New York (staying at the Hilton of course!) to spend my own money in Nike. 2018 I can’t wait to be sassy with you!

Full Circle

Another day off work spent at the hospital. It seems like it’s the norm now to work, then when I have a day off I treat myself by going to the Doctors or hospital. I spend so much of my spare time at my local Doctors I’m bffs with the receptionists. But this hospital visit is different. I’m finally getting my answers. Why did I get my blood clots? It’s the day of my haematology appointment. I’m sat in the waiting room and like déjà vu I’m the youngest in there by about 30 years. Because of the snow the Doctor is late. So I’m sat drinking a lush cup of tea that the receptionist made me, whilst listening to Elvis Presley on the radio. I can’t help but smile as Elvis was my Nan’s favourite. I automatically feel more relaxed.

The appointment was pretty simple. I just had to explain what happened and my life story. I almost felt like saying “Just read my blog love, it explains everything!” I continue to recite my first blog to her, whilst my mum added in about my family history of blood clots. 15 minutes of talking and getting checked over. The conclusions were in (drum roll please). There were three causes. The main one being the pill. As soon as I discovered I had the clots back in September I had to come off the pill straight away. I had been on it for about 8 years and stupidly I didn’t use it correctly. I was very good at “forgetting to take a break” sometimes I went 40 odd days without stopping! (Insert monkey covering eyes emoji here!). The second reason was hereditary. I shouldn’t have even been put on the pill in first place because of my family history with blood clots! Then lastly it was dehydration. This doesn’t surprise me. I neglected my health when I was trying to complete my Uni degree. Then spent a large amount of time sobbing about certain life events after I graduated but I still carried on trying to force myself to train when honestly I wasn’t physically or mentally capable of pushing myself. I was far too stubborn to stop running. Looking back now I was so stressed, I’m not surprised my health went downhill.

My appointment finished at 10 am. I looked at my mum we were both thinking the same thing. “Let’s go and get that McDonalds breakfast.” It sounds silly but I actually got emosh eating my double sausage and egg mcmuffin. It was like I’d done a full circle. I couldn’t help reflect on what a journey this year has been. But I’ve come through it a stronger and wiser person.

So what now? Well, I have to continue my meds for a little bit longer. I have to be careful if I go on a long haul flight, potentially having to have injections in my legs before my travels. If I’m lucky enough to jet off on holiday anywhere. Also, not that I’m planning to pop one out anytime soon but I’d have to take medication if I ever get preggers. The clots are still there as they take such a long time to go! Basically, it’s simply something that I’ll have to monitor and be aware of for the rest of my life. I’ll continue to spend my days off at the Doctors until at least February. This week I’m having an ECG to check my innocent heart murmur. As my heart rate is quite low at the moment! (Running against the heart murmur doesn’t have the same ring to it!) But hopefully that is nothing to worry about. Maybe it’s me getting some kind of fitness back (I can dream lol). Getting closure on my clots has made me feel like I can really push on with my life and training. I’m feeling positive and more determined than ever. So let’s do this!

Back To Basics

I’m happiest when I’m running, especially if it’s raining. Because when the weather is bad, in that moment it feels like you’re the only person in the world to be out running. You feel hard core because staying in and watching EastEnders would’ve been the easier option (especially when you have a secret crush on Max Branning!). But you chose to run instead. So when the Doctor told me I’d need at least 4 weeks’ rest it was pretty gutting, but unfortunately I’m fairly used to having time off training due to all the injuries. But this time was different, it wasn’t a simple injury. It was more serious. I had no choice but to accept the time off and treat my comeback to running and the clots with patience and respect. I knew I’d have to start entirely from scratch, because even walking at the time was impossible, due to the pain! But cruelly I wasn’t allowed to put my leg up and binge watch box sets for over a month. I had to force myself to walk every hour. I was in so much pain, but I had to ironically not listen to my body, and fight against it just to take one step. The first couple of days I couldn’t walk without holding on to my dad whilst screaming every time my left leg touched the floor. My first target I set myself was to walk the whole duration of the advert breaks whilst watching Coronation Street (it was a Wednesday so EastEnders wasn’t on lol). Through the tears and after losing my voice in the process, I managed to achieve my target!

Luckily the medication and pain killers kicked in, and after a week and a half I set target number two! I walked to my local shop which is just under a mile each way, unaided and as a reward I bought myself a packet of frazzles. It took about an hour to complete the walk. But it really felt like a break through moment. After that milestone, I then set myself a goal to walk 5000-8000 steps a day. Don’t get me wrong, the leg was still painful and twitching constantly, but it was starting to get more bearable. So when it came to my 4 week check up at the hospital, where I was given Sally the sexy compression sock, I also received the good news that I could run! However, because Sally the sock was incredibly tight, it caused me so much pain in my leg, it was like day one all over again! So speed dial to my DVT nurse, and was told I have to wait another week to be able to run to let the pain subside. I’m usually a really impatient person. I’m usually like, “I want to be fit, I want to race well now, I want to buy an Aston Martin now” that kind of thing! But this time I had to do what’s best for me and my recovery, and that is to be patient. That’s one of the main things I’ve learnt about this whole experience. I’ve learnt to be more relaxed about life and not sweat the small stuff. Which has actually really changed my life for the better!

After what felt like ten years, my extra week off was over, my leg pain settled down. I put my running kit on, dusted off my trainers and with music blasting through my ears I started to …..walk. I was scared to run ok! I admit it, I was nervous. I was thinking what if I can’t remember how to run? What if I fall over? But as my irrational thinking was starting to get out of hand. ‘Don’t stop me now’ by Queen came on my iPod and just like that I started to run. Anyone closest to me knows the significance of this song to me. I can’t race without listening to it. I was even cool enough to share my love for this song and wrote to Athletics Weekly when I was 13 and won letter of the week (I’d do anything to delay doing my maths homework!). That day I ended up running 8×1 minute run/walk. But most importantly my leg was ok!

From then I kept to the same pattern, mixing up the training with running and walking. But the biggest difficulty I have when I run now is that at any time I start to get a dead leg. It’s a really weird sensation. My overall power on my left side has decreased generally. But it’s like my left leg is almost on a delay, so as I tire I start scuffing the ground with my trainers. When I hear this more than 3 times, it’s like an alarm clock to say that I’ve got about 3 minutes running left in me. But 3 and a bit weeks later I can now run 5 miles! I know this is baby mileage but for now I’m celebrating how far I’ve come. My leg is starting to get stronger and more responsive too! I still have to take each day at a time, because working as well as training my whole left side gets tired quickly. So I have to take extra rest days throughout the week. I’m hoping by the end of December I’ll be able to put together a more normal consistent training week. But for now I might try and jog a park run and I need to start hitting the gym! (It’s all about the squats!). I know it’ll be a long slow journey but I’m excited to see what the future holds in every aspect of my life!

Me And My Blood Clots

This time 6 weeks ago I was doing what I’ve always done for the past 13 years. I was out running. Admittedly not for as long as what I probably should have done, but life hasn’t been smooth for me since mid August. I graduated (YAY!). Then got dumped by the same guy who I’d been with for four years twice (Not so YAY!). So subsequently I had to move out of our flat in Twickenham PDQ (pretty darn quick), was left jobless and was back living with my parents in the lovely countryside. Safe to say life was not going to plan! On this Saturday run all I kept thinking was ‘When is my situation going to get better?’ I was stuck in a rut and throwing myself a pity party. As you can tell I wasn’t really focusing on my run that day! Everything was normal when I finished, and what the new ‘normal’ came to be recently was eat, train, argue with my parents, eat, play Sia full volume, cry in my room, eat, sleep. You get the picture, I was basically having my teenage years at the age of 24! But like a light switch my whole life changed (Again!). But this time it changed me as person and ironically for the better.

Sunday morning, I was woken up by this pain in my foot, I thought like every athlete does “Here we go another stressy!”. So I laid in bed waiting for the pain to subside which it did, with a sigh of relief I decide to actually get out of bed and seize the day (I’m sounding positive now but, my frame of mind at the time was probably just to get up and survive the day!). But as soon as my left leg gently touched the floor as I took a step, I collapsed. Now as a fairly decent athlete back in the day I like to think my pain threshold is fairly high. I’ve had a few stress fractures, Achilles problems, tendonitis, pulled muscles the list goes on. But I have never experienced a pain like this in all my life. Lying on the floor I was trying to suss out how someone could get injured off 35 slow miles a week. But with my new teenage mind set, I stood up convinced myself its just cramp and hopped one legged down the stairs ready to argue with my mum (I can honestly say I don’t know how my parents didn’t disown me). I carried on hiding this excruciating pain, by spending the day standing like a flamingo, popping paracetamol and suffering alone in my bedroom. I was trying to play it cool, but deep down I knew this was something serious. Running has given me the ability to know my body really well. I hadn’t been training enough to be injured and if I was injured I would have felt it after my run the day before. But I continued to do some internet shopping in my room and convinced myself that I would be back running the next day.

3.am Monday 18th September, the severe pain in my calf woke me up. Struggling to catch my breath because it hurt so much. I crawled to my parent’s bedroom and admitted defeat that I needed my parents help! I was taken to A&E and after a lengthy wait, a doctor saw me. She was quick to dismiss me, it was clear that she thought nothing was wrong with me and it was obviously just a pulled muscle. Then my mum asks what we were all deep down (no pun intend) hoping it wasn’t, is it a blood clot? But the doctor reassured me I couldn’t possibly have a blood clot. “I’m too young, too fit, too healthy. And I’ve not been on any long haul flights.” Standing up to leave and still in unbearable pain the doctor at the last moment decides to do a blood test, you know just in case. But this meant a 2 hour wait on the ward to wait for my results.

I get, some may say aggressive, if not fed. So sitting in the ward hungry and sleep deprived I was not in a good way! The doctor comes back (yes it’s only 8.30 I can still have a McDonald’s breakfast! When she discharges me). “Can I have a word in the office?” uh oh what’s happening? I just want a double sausage and egg McMuffin! I sat in the office and the doctor’s presence had very much changed. Almost to an apologetic ‘egg on face’ attitude. My D-dimer levels were abnormally high (this is a small protein fragment present in the blood, which is raised if a person has a blood clot) normal levels are 400-500 mine were 4675 to be exact. After this first meeting, everything happened so quickly the NHS really are incredible. Within the space of an hour since the office meeting, I had injections in my stomach, appointments booked for an ultrasound scan on my leg that same day, urine tests, and luckily a bowl of Frosties and a cup of tea. I had a couple of hours to wait before my ultra sound. But it was time now to start accepting that this could well be a blood clot in my leg.

The deep vein thrombosis waiting room was, looking back quite funny. Lets just say I was the youngest one in there by about 40 years. Because blood clots are rare for people under 65 apparently! I limped into the ultrasound room, and was asked to take my bottoms off. I remember feeling impressed with myself for remembering to put running shorts on at 3 in the morning. Lying on the bed the ultrasound started, I thought I’d be really funny and original and asked the nurse if it was a boy or a girl. It didn’t get the response I was hoping for, as she called over an expert and asked if clots ran in the family. The comedian in me soon disappeared as it was confirmed that I had clots in my peroneal veins extending up and in the popliteal vein. I hobbled out the room and the pain and stress of the last month and a half came out of me and I sobbed loudly in the waiting room. I was devastated and scared.

I was then called to see a DVT nurse to talk about my treatment. Before he’d even told me to sit down I was asking if I could still run. The running situation could be worse; I can run but I can’t push myself too much or make my leg hurt! But I did have to rest up for 4 weeks. The nurse was so lovely he made me feel less emotional and panicky! He said I was the fittest person he’d seen from my test results which is why getting a clot is so random! I’ve been put on this new medication called Rivaroxaban. I have to take the tablet twice a day at exactly the same time for the first 21 days then just once a day for the foreseeable future. I was also told the good news that I’d have to wear a sexy compression sock for the next two years! (Hello bad tan lines), and blood tests every month for at least 6 months. I’ve got a haematology appointment in December to try and find out why I got the clots in the first place!

Six weeks on, the pain has subsided but I still feel it and my calf twitches all the time. Sally the sexy sock is on and I’ve started to do some gentle training. It feels weird when I run but I’ll do another blog post about that soon! I’ve also got a new job and I’ve started to learn how to drive! What this experience has taught me is that life is unpredictable, but you are in control of your own happiness. You just have to make it happen for yourself.