“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”
Awareness and acceptance exist in two different realms of the world. People can continue to operate and live on awareness but it is like stepping over a huge gorge in your life to move into acceptance. Acceptance is multitudes more difficult and often times more painful.
Last Thursday I went to get a second opinion from a vascular surgeon about my inferior vena cava blockage. It was recommended so that I can be sure that there is nothing that can be done surgically to remove the blockage. The other main question I had was “can I still be a runner?” As running has become very difficult given this blockage, resulting in a very heavy leg when running, noticeable swelling, and increased veins in my abdominal area.
The inferior vena cava is the large vein (blue in the picture) that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower half of the body into the right atrium of the heart. You have common iliac veins on both the right and left side that meet in your abdomen to form the inferior vena cava. On the right side of my body, just before those iliac veins meet, I had an inferior vena cava filter inserted. Clots are usually treated with blood thinners but very early on in my hospital stay they could not give me blood thinners because I had three brain hemorrhages (bleeds). So they inserted the filter to keep the clots in my leg from going into my heart. Unfortunately, the clot broke loose in my leg at some point. Fortunately the filter was there to catch it! Unfortunately, it was a rather large clot in width and length and has resulted in a complete blockage of blood getting from my right leg and into the inferior vena cava. The inferior vena cava is obviously important in carrying the de-oxygenated blood from your leg to your heart. So in it’s absence other veins in my abdomen have taken over to get the blood where it needs to go. Think of a car jam, main road is closed, so all the small roads get filled up and used. These veins enlarge when I’m on my feet for long periods of time or when I run 😦 Hence my desire to get a second opinion.
Well the Dr’s opinion was the same, given that they were unable to put a wire through the blockage, they will never be able to put a stent in. My inferior vena cava will never be a functioning vein on the right side of my body. The iliac veins on the left side are clear and working so I do not experience any of these symptoms on that side.
So now the movement from awareness to acceptance must begin. The first step is the awareness that being the type of runner I wanted, is not going to be possible. I wept when the doctor said “you will never be a marathon runner.” He was saying it not at all realizing that is precisely the thing that I didn’t want to hear. I wept when I heard. Then felt so bad as his face dropped, realizing the pain that statement brought me. It may seem silly to be so sad but it is another loss of who I was before the accident and who I was becoming. And anytime there is loss, there is mourning. After realizing what running meant to me, he discussed that running is okay. It won’t hurt me, but it will be much harder than before and he would not recommend long distances. He discussed ways to help blood flow and decrease the swelling in my leg and in my abdominal veins. He prescribed some compression stockings for that side and we’ll see how that goes. 🙂 The second step is gaining acceptance through following the doctors suggestions and deciding how to make the necessary adjustments. Also, there will eventually have to be the acceptance of running not being my main cardio focus. I cannot say I am there yet, but I have, with much determination, built a bridge over that gorge and am crossing a little bit at a time. Eventually I will get to the other side and be in acceptance. So for now, I’m going to enjoy the journey of figuring out what is best for this new body I have. 🙂