Friday, 25 July 2014

PHighter Friday: Michelle

I was never "normal". I remember as a child, I would lose my breath before the other children. As a teen, I would get tired and couldn't be athletic. At 20 I had emergency open heart surgery to repair a hole in my heart. The Dr told me I would feel so much better. I did, for a short time. It all started again.... short of breath, flushing and getting tired easily. I figured it was because I was over weight and I smoked. That's what everyone thought.

At age 27, came the diagnosis, Pulmonary Hypertension. I was told life expectancy was around 2 years. I was scared and confused. No one I talked to had ever heard of it. I knew immediately I would need a specialist. I did research on the internet, made an appointment, and quit smoking. I started oral therapy and I felt a bit better though I was very depressed. I'm the one in my family that thinks I have to take care of everyone else. I let the depression win and I stopped my treatments. I could not afford the copays for the medicines. I didn't tell anyone this or I would have quickly learned of the help that's out there. 
 I continued to get worse. I reached out to another specialist. I was told five years earlier that I wouldn't live more than two years. I had proved them wrong. How much better could I have been if I would have kept up my treatments? That's when I met Dr Frank. He did not sugar coat anything. I was quickly scheduled to have a permanent IV in my chest to receive meds 24/7. I wasn't really given any options. I didn't argue. A month later I walked into his office without the assistance of a wheelchair! He was very impressed and confessed to me that he had thought I had waited too long and wouldn't make it to my follow up. I proved him wrong too!

Maybe I can beat this! I have now been on treatment for almost five years and I am doing great! I went back to work part time. I recently started walking a mile a day. I replaced old hobbies with new ones that doesn't require much exertion. I like canning, knitting and crocheting. I have good days and bad days. But as long as I'm still having good days I will continue to PHight! I have a new attitude about this disease. There is no expiration date stamped on my body! I firmly believe your attitude can break or make you in this disease. I allow  myself down days. It's normal! I have days when I can't do the things I want to do. It's normal! All of this is MY NORMAL. We are all different but I try to stay as positive as I can. I absolutely love talking to other PH patients. I try to keep them positive and strong as well. I could have given in ten years ago. I think I was close to that. I'm glad I started phighting. I now have a 2 year old niece that is my heart! I thank god that my meds are helping. My pressures have lowered tremendously! I have joined many support groups and love being an inspiration to the newbies as a long time survivor! Ten years and going strong!!

Editors note: I saw that Michelle works as an optical technician, which sounds like a very busy job! I asked her a bit about her position and she says she works about 20 hours a week and that she loves what she does.

The PHight or Flight Project would like to thank Michelle 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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