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Grateful by Arielle Denise Dance

Posted on March 6, 2017 at 8:15 PM

Welcome back to our Women's History Month discussion--"Surviving the Womanhood Wilderness Experience". Today my guest blogger is Arielle Denise Dance--PhD candidate in Integrative Medicine. And talk about a survivor. Having faced one health crisis after another, Arielle is not one to shy away from promoting self-advocacy in women's health. She is grateful to still be here on the journey. And we are grateful for her sharing her story and giving us some helpful advice on surviving similar health crisis in our lives. Read on...



By Arielle Denise Dance

Imagine the worst gas pain in your back to the point that you cannot lie down or even sit back in a chair. Pair that with feeling like your throat is closing and your chest is so tight. I had both scary symptoms in the summers of 2010 and 2014. Both times my family rushed me to the emergency room, where I was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) and possible DVT (deep vein thrombosis- blood clot in the leg).

During my days in the intensive care unit, being treated with oxygen, blood thinners, and pain medications, I began to heal and recharge. The reality settled in, 1 in 4 people who get a blood clot will die. I survived, twice! I am a miracle. As the pain in my lungs and back wore off, I found my breath again. I learned to take a breath and say, “I’m grateful.” I appreciate my life more than ever. I learned to appreciate my mother and partner more. They sat by my bed each night, slept in weird positions in chairs, combed my matted hair, brushed my teeth, and changed my bedpan. There is something about being that vulnerable and feeling that exposed that makes you grateful.

Now, whenever I need to be reminded, I take the longest and deepest breath possible… because I can! I stretch my arms wide and whisper, “I’m grateful.” When I am laying on my partner’s chest, listening to the rhythm of our hearts, I take a deep breath… because I’m still here! I look up, we meet eyes, and I whisper, “I’m grateful.”

So I dare you to do the same… find a reason to be grateful when you can’t breathe, can’t dance, can’t smile. I dare you to thank the universe for life, when you feel nothing but darkness and death. I dare you to appreciate your body even with its limitations. Finally, I dare you to take care of yourself and be aware of your risks for blood clots so you can live a healthy life.

Know Your Risks for Blood Clots:

• Stretch your legs on those long flights, train rides, and even sitting in office for long periods of time.

• There are some risks that are out of your control, like if you’re an African American woman, are over 60 years old, or have a family history of blood clots.

• Take care of yourself! Being obese increases your risk.

• Recent surgery, childbirth and pregnancy are also risk factors.

• Birth control and other estrogen medications put you at moderate risk.

• It may be time for you to quit smoking. Using tobacco products increases your risk of clotting.

• Cancer patients are at a higher risk for clotting especially those on chemotherapy.

To learn more about blood clots and risk factors, visit and

Arielle is a PhD candidate in Integrative Medicine. She believes that you can dance through any circumstance and that telling your story is one of the most healing experiences.

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