moving forward

navigating through the life that was and moving into the life that is

Awareness and Acceptance

on September 5, 2012

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”

-Nathaniel Branden

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.

Let me first give a better explanation of what my body is facing:

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. 🙂

7 responses to “Awareness and Acceptance

  1. valerie fender says:

    Hey there!  

    Just wanted to reach out to you to see how you’re doing.  I know how much you love running so the news from the Dr’s isnt welcome.

    But there are a lot of other fun cardio options for you out there.  I cant run anymore either because of my knee reconstructions.

    But I do a lot of other fun things:  walking, swimming, cycling, stair climbing, paddleboarding, roller blading, hula hooping!!!

    I even break a sweat when I play on the Wii!!

    It will take some time to adjust to your new life but I promise you that you’ll find other things to do that you’ll love – maybe even more than running!

    Valerie xoxo


    • sandraglen says:

      Thank you so much for the encouraging words Valerie!! I really appreciate it. I will definitely have to find something new to focus on and I’m sure eventually I will like it as much as running. I will keep you posted and I hope you are doing well also.

  2. marcistevens says:

    Awesome outlook. Im sorry its not what you wanted to hear from the doctor though. You’ll find something athletic to excel at! I used to LOVE to spin. Can you do that?

  3. Jan says:

    Hi Sandra,

    I can so identify with what you are expressing–maybe not to the same degree. A previous car accident had left me very weak in my back; after many years of pain and atrophy, the doctors suggested intense physical therapy. This gave me the idea to body build. I was on a quest to get strong again and not be the one that couldn’t carry things or my fair share. About a year and half into my journey, I woke up with pain in my left arm, which eventually ballooned into what did not look like an arm. At the hospital er, it was confirmed that my left subclavian vein had stenosed 4 inches with a 4-5 inch clot behind it. Needless to say, after all the procedures and blood thinners to remove the clot, I was devastated by the news that I should never raise my hands over my head due to the reduction of blood flow. My arm seemed to tingle and feel pressure all the time. This also included my time in worship to the Lord–I like to raise my arms in worship. However, after an extended period of time, and new collateral veins, I found that I can now do the things that I was told not to do–not to the same measure, but enough to satisfy the longing of my soul. During my trying time, I kept hearing the Lord telling me be still and know that I am God. The Lord is faithful! May the Lord continue to bless you with increased health and courage to navigate this new path and to make your steps plain.

  4. […] Next in the healing process for me was coming to terms with what had happened to my body physically and what that meant pushing forward.  As a result, I wrote this: Awareness and Acceptance […]

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