Friday, 20 June 2014

PHighter Friday: Lindsay

Hello!  I'm Lindsay Thurman.  I was diagnosed with severe pulmonary hypertension officially in November of 2008.  I was Class 3 at the time and I had trouble walking up a few steps and had passed out several times doing things that most people would not even think twice about doing.  When I was first diagnosed I was told that the condition could not get better but they could stop it from getting worse.  I was also told that I would probably only live for 8 years at the most (this was 6 years ago).  My doctor at the time didn't say much about what I could or couldn't do.  He pretty much told me to avoid stairs and to for sure not have children.  That particular doctor wasn't very helpful and he made things sound pretty bleak.

Now I am on two medications (adcirca and opsumit) and last summer my doctor told me that I was now Class 1.  I usually walk 2.5-3.5 miles a day with my dog at a brisk pace (about 3.5 mph).  My life is very different now than it was at diagnosis.  After being diagnosed I finished my bachelor's degree and I currently teach high school math at a Title 1 school which requires a lot of energy!  This summer I'm getting ready to start on my master's degree.  I'm more active and feel better than I have in my entire life.

When I was first diagnosed I think the hardest part for me was having to cope with my own mortality.  It's very scary at 23 to hear that you aren't supposed to live past 31.  I also had a hard time with the fact that I would never be able to safely have children of my own.  Coping wasn't easy and I found it hard to talk to people about it because I didn't want to worry friends and family.  I'm a Christian and I turned to God with all of my frustrations and fears.  Now that it's 5.5 years later my outlook has changed a lot.  I know that there is no way to know how long I'll live.  I went from Class 3 to Class 1 which I find amazing and I feel great so I don't expect to die anytime soon.  However I have made peace with the fact that there's a possibility I will die young.  I think that my disease has helped me to focus on what's important in life and let go of the little things.  Knowing I can never have children is still and will probably always be hard for me.  I might adopt someday but I might not.  I try not to think things have to be one way or another and just treat each day as it's own adventure.  I look forward to the future but I live in the present because while I don't expect to die as young as my first doctor said I would, I do respect the fact that I have a very serious disease.  Besides, even healthy people aren't promised tomorrow!

I think the best advice for someone who is newly diagnosed is to first off know that doctors don't have all the answers and in my experience the best doctors know they don't know everything and know that anything is possible.  I would encourage them to celebrate any victories and let go of disappointments and stresses.  Hope is everything.  I could have believed my first doctor that I wouldn't make it another decade on earth and just given up and my life would be very different now.  I would also encourage them to listen to their body.  Know and respect the limits of your body but also understand that those limits could change.  Do what you can to stay healthy by eating right and I really enjoy walking but since many people with PH have trouble there I would also highly recommend yoga! 

The PHight or Flight Project would like to thank Lindsay for sharing her incredible PH journey for  PHighter Friday!

* If you have an inspirational PH journey that you would like to share to help provide hope to those who are newly diagnosed, please contact me at More information about sharing your PH journey for a #PHighterFriday can be found under the Share Your PH Journey/Contact tab.

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