Giving Thanks

I wanted to come up with the perfect thing to say for Thanksgiving. The perfect thing that would be even more perfect than anything, anyone else out there could say this year. Day and night I’ve been thinking about it for the past couple of weeks and especially the last few days and still, nothing seems right. It’s not that gratefulness is hard to talk about – I know we are grateful to be alive, to be out of the hospital, to have answers to our questions, to have a family, friends, plans and a chance to fulfill our dreams, a second chance at life – it’s that I struggle to convey the magnitude of that gratefulness in just a few words. And while I am thankful for all of these things, my heart is full this holiday season with gratitude that goes far beyond myself, my family and my own recovery.

I am grateful for the George’s of the world. Who is George, you ask. He is the person behind the scenes, if you will, who makes this blog worth writing. He is the person who is always there in the support forums with an encouraging word for others, including myself, even when he’s not feeling his best. George is the one who tells it like it is with all the clarity and compassion and empathy he can muster. He’s the one who shares this site again and again and again. He screams it from the street corners, “You are not alone! You’re not the only one going through this! Look! Read this!” He asks questions, he engages, he doesn’t take no for an answer. When he wants to give up, he keeps on going; he reaches out, he asks for help, he doesn’t conceal his pain or anger or frustration at the situation we have all been catapulted into without a moment’s notice. When I want to give up, when I think I’m not making a difference, when I think nothing I have to say could possibly make an impact, George is there to sit me down, look me straight in the eyes, and tell me that yes, what I do actually does matter. He doesn’t take no for an answer and he won’t settle for less than my best. George, my friends, is you.

I am grateful for the comments and posts and emails that take my breath away and move me to tears when I least expect it. I am often overwhelmed with the amount of people who come forward to talk about how a blood clot has impacted their own lives. Tales of survival, of loss, of heartbreak and of joy – I have heard more stories than I can count. But, not more stories than I can remember. I remember each story I encounter, even if it is just a detail or two. Something always stands out behind the author – a true voice to the story being told. There are times I want to give up talking about blood clots, give up writing about recovery and give up this whole thing – the stories you have shared over these past two years and continue to share keep me going when I feel like giving up. As long as there are stories to tell, my work at BCRN is not finished. As long as people’s lives are being impacted by DVT and PE, there is more to say and while it may not always be easy, either is recovery, either is talking about it, either is sharing what has happened in your own personal triumphs and tragedies and yet, you still go on talking about it. So too, must I.

I am grateful for abundance in community. While it isn’t always easy to see, there are significant changes being made to raise awareness and bring DVT and PE as major public health concerns to the forefront. The community you have helped to build here grows stronger everyday and is widespread. I am grateful for athletes like NASCAR’s Brian Vickers and Olympic Speed Skater Rebekah Bradford, who have spoken out about their personal encounters with blood clots. Through stories such as there’s, we continue fighting to raise even more awareness. I am grateful for organizations like the National Blood Clot Alliance who fight to bring awareness to everyone. Our community is great, it is strong, and it is growing stronger each day. I am grateful for the opportunity to keep this community growing in abundance and change the way the public, medical professionals and the lawmakers think about blood clots. More needs to be done to stop blood clots and save lives. Together, we can make a difference.

I am grateful to be able to say Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I remember my first holidays after me PE – they were miserable, nothing mattered. I didn’t feel good, I didn’t think I would ever feel good, and I felt completely alone. I was sad, I hurt and not even a beautiful turkey (even though I’m pretty sure the turkey was just normal that year), dinner with my family or glittering Christmas tree could make me feel better. There was no way to fix it, no way to speed it up, no way to change it. Happy Thanksgiving did not come out of my mouth to anyone, not a single time. To you, the person that is hurting, that doesn’t see a way out, that isn’t enjoying dinner or doesn’t even have a dinner to enjoy, Happy Thanksgiving. To you, the person who is alone in a crowd or alone in your bed, Happy Thanksgiving. To you, the person whose leg hurts, whose lungs burn and who doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring for your health, Happy Thanksgiving. To you, the person who is recovering well, but just can’t forget the ones who are not yet, Happy Thanksgiving. To you, the outspoken individual who has shared your story a million times already and to you, who is still too unsure to tell it, Happy Thanksgiving. To you who has lost your job, or to you, who is wondering how you will pay for your medication next month, Happy Thanksgiving. To you that has found stability and is trying to move forward in your recovery from where you have already been, Happy Thanksgiving. To you who is grieving the loss of a loved one and to you, the one that wonders why you’re still here, Happy Thanksgiving.

And to you, George, Happy Thanksgiving.

Reader Writes In. How are you giving thanks this year?

There is hope for healing and you are not alone,



  1. Sara, Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with family and friends. Your wonderful essay did bring tears to my eyes. I wonder if this blog is your way of doing the same thing I was doing with my obsession with my case study to the hospital. I have always felt that it was my way of dealing with my mortality which came into such stark reality for me by almost dying from my massive pulmonary embolism. The difference from your work on this blog is I had an endpoint — the presentation to the hospital. After that I could begin to let go of the obsession although like grieving it never fully goes away. I was more at peace with the idea and reality of my mortality. But, you’re younger and having to deal with this question of mortality much younger in life when it is probably even harder to deal with. I am now on the Patient Family Advisory Council at the hospital which I have not found all that satisfying. While they do find a few things to ask our advise on, for the most part it is rather superficial and based on the profound experience I had with the PE, I wanted to do something significant that truly saved lives. My commitment is for a year and that may be the end of it. They just seem too leery of any outsider especially a former patient that just might sue and I feel they are always in the mode of protecting the hospital from all outsiders and their lawyers. While I can’t really blame them for that in our litigious culture, I wish we could get past it and move forward. That pamplet on PE for Newly Diagnosed Patients I mentioned a couple of weeks ago on this blog is a great example of patient/physician collaboration. I have moved on from the intensity of the case study now. Now, I’ve started asking everyone I meet what their dream is and to encourage them to go after it now not later. It is amazing the answers one gets and how strangers become real, very interesting new friends with wonderful ideas about their future no matter what their age or background. I find it interesting everyone finds an answer pretty quickly. Right now I don’t seem to have any dreams of my own and am stumped by the question.

    What am I thankful for this year? That’s another tough question. I use to think of Thanksgiving as the best holiday with nothing demanded from it other than the joy of sharing a meal with family and friends and thinking about the blessings of the year past. While I’m thankful for many things in my life my gratitude is somewhat tainted by the horrors of the past in how the Pilgrims and the Europeans really treated the Native Americans and the frightening future where there is no privacy and everything we do, buy, go is being recorded. But, I don’t want to get mired in the negative that is trying to pull us all down. So, I’m going to be thankful for the beautiful day, for the beautiful creatures in our world such as the soaring birds and my dogs, and look for the beautiful and positive aspects of our world.

    • Hi Cathy, thank you so much for this absolutely beautiful post. I meant to tell you that earlier, but I am afraid I have fallen behind in responding to comments. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for the kind things you said about this blog. I am really glad you have been a part of it since nearly the beginning.

      This blog, and writing, has been very therapeutic for me in my recovery and it has helped me beyond measure to be able to help others who are going through what I once did. I learn so much from the readers here, and I hope they can learn as much from me and what others have to say. I am not sure if/what the endpoint would be for me. Maybe to offer more resources about life after recovery or offer some programs for people wanting to get back into health and fitness after a PE as those are two of my passions and things I am still working on as well.

      I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I agree – it is very, very hard to be positive and sometimes even grateful in this world we are living in now. Like you said, we HAVE so much, but at the end of the day those are just things, and I too sometimes the price we pay as a society to be where we are today. It is scary at times, to see the path the world has taken. I try to be thankful for the small things – this blog, the ability to express myself, for others to express themselves, family, a few close friends and my dogs too!

      Talk to you soon and keep in touch. Thank you again for this note, which makes me smile and ponder! Good stuff here.

  2. It is so good to see a community of people that are going through the same thing! Although this is unfortunate, it is good to see that there is a support group out there!

    I am starting a blog about my experience and would really appreciate it if you could check it out and share it with those you know!

    Please do not hesitate to comment/leave feedback
    Thank you so much!!!

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