2013: The Year of My Legs – Dealing with DVT

Featuring Guest Blogger: Mark Ballard

mark-ballard-revisedFor more than half of 2013, I’ve been consumed with my legs. I always thought they were physically the strongest part of me. They have taken me around for 53 years. Many years ago when I began to exercise and then became a cyclist, I developed my leg muscles and made them even stronger. Then in June I had a kidney stone, went into the hospital to have it removed, and WHAM! I had three blood clots in one leg and one in the other. I immediately thought, “WHAT?! My legs are strong! I exercise all the time!! Blood clots are for older people who just sit around!” Boy, was I wrong.

I was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT (blood clots in my legs). I knew nothing about DVT’s but have spent the last six months learning everything I could about them. One thing I found out is they are very dangerous! I was immediately placed on anticoagulants (blood thinners) and have been taking them since the beginning of July.

During these six months, my doctors found out I have an inherited gene that makes me more susceptible to blood clots. I was immediately banned from riding my outside bike for fear of bleeding if I fell off. But, thank God, I was able to continue all my spin classes at the Wellness Center.

The Year of my LegsI know y’all are sick of hearing about my legs, but they were a big concern of mine in 2013. I decided to use my posts and columns to educate everyone I could about DVT’s. Many people have written, called, or approached me about checking into DVT’s after hearing about my symptoms. If I helped one person, it was worth it!

I have been off of all blood thinners (including shots to my abdomen) for the past two weeks. I gave six or eight vials of blood yesterday for some tests that will determine if I have to take blood thinners for the rest of my life. In the big picture it’s a minor inconvenience compared to what this year has brought to many of my friends and family. I am so blessed and extremely grateful that cancer was ruled out!

So, as I was leaving my spin class this morning, I was counting my blessings! Because of what I’ve been through with my legs, I’m much stronger and have also been given the opportunity to help others by sharing. My son asked me never to post photos of my legs again. LOL! But the reason I did is to point out that my mother was right – it is what’s on the inside that matters. On the outside, my legs look healthy and strong, but deep inside of them, there are some issues. Sometimes, when we least expect it, our strongest attributes can be attacked. And when they are, we have to fight, stay positive, and become stronger. I saw this quote the other day that I’m taking with me into 2014!

Learning to handle problems is like lifting weights: the more we do, the stronger we become. Remember that you have probably learned the most during the most difficult times in your life. You are a stronger person as a result of those times. Remember that as you face your next challenge.

Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year! Leaving 2013 behind, I am definitely stronger in many ways than last January 1.

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