Thursday, May 15, 2008

This Is a True Story

When I was still living in Seattle and this close to finishing my master's degree, I had to fly back to Kansas City for my sister's wedding [again, login required, sorry]. While I was here, my friend Sara sprained her ankle pretty severely and had to go into the hospital. A few weeks later after I'd just moved back & started my job, she was having really bad pain in her leg so she went back into hospital, where she discovered that there was a large blood clot in her leg, and one in her lung -- a potentially life-threatening situation.

After a week in the hospital on blood-thinners, the clot in her lung had mostly dissipated, but her leg was still a concern and a source of what looked like some god-awful pain. She was able to go home, but because of the clot and the pain it was causing, she could hardly walk, shower or move. Because of the blood-thinners she was suddenly deprived of cigarettes, alcohol, the Pill and maybe more that I am forgetting. At the age of 26, she had basically become helpless in many ways while having to deal with enormous lifestyle changes and not knowing what was causing any of this.

Almost one year later, Sara has been through physical therapy and is walking again. She replaced her birth control with an IUD and all her heels (which were a big part of her personality) have been traded in for flats. She is still on the blood-thinners and she will be for the rest of her life. She will never not be affected by this, but at least she now has some sort of an answer.

An article in the Washington Post reported that air pollution has been linked to blood clots in the thigh and leg:

Baccarelli and his colleagues assessed the effect of air polluted with particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter -- about one-40th the width of a human hair. Such particles come from the exhaust of vehicles, especially those with diesel engines, and burning of fossil fuels, the researchers said.

The scientists compared the exposure to such pollution on 870 residents of the Lombardy region of Italy who had been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, and 1,210 residents who did not have deep vein thrombosis. The researchers used the average concentration of particulate matter measured by monitors at 53 sites.

Compensating for other environmental and health factors, the researchers found that the risk of deep vein thrombosis increased by 70 percent for every increase in particulate matter of 10 micrograms per square meter. Tests showed that the blood of people more exposed to such pollution took less time to form clots.

Sara's story and so many others like hers are the reason why I am so broken hearted when people brush aside environmental problems as if they don't actually affect anyone. That all this climate change nonsense is no concern of the average person. Yet child asthma, allergies, cancer and a host of other health problems are on the rise. Killing us because we're too proud or stubborn or uninterested to create real change. I challenge you to look at the people you love and decide if they're worth it. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask if you want to live in a world that is killing you faster than it should. Seriously think about what you would do to save the ones you love. Because there's absolutely nothing else at stake.

Related posts:
Detox Your Life (How To)
Carbon's Gonna Kill Us
How to Live Car-Free in the Midwest
Biomimicry for Greener Buildings
The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Midwest
Simple Steps to Save the Planet

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Jenna said...

That is very sad that her whole lifestyle has had to change simply because of other's decisions/lifestyles.

I wish more people would open their eyes and minds. If everyone would just work harder to become more aware about how to be "green" (or at least greener than they are now), then think how much of a difference it could make.

Excellent post ... I'm going to pass this on to some friends.

May said...

Thanks, Jenna. That means a lot to me.