Friday, 3 October 2014

PHighter Friday: Elisa L.

In October of 2011 I had my first pulmonary hypertension symptoms. At the time I was not aware that it was PH. I started to notice that I was severely out of breath going up stairs. I first thought that maybe I was out of shape, and so I decided to go to the gym. I got on the Stairmaster, and within 3 minutes I had to stop. My heart was beating so fast, and I could barely breath. I have Lupus, I was diagnosed in August of 2010, and so after a few weeks of shortness of breath I decided to email my doctor. He immediately ordered tests. Throughout November and December I did test after test. X-rays, ct scans, blood work, ekg's, echo cardiograms, you name it. To make a long story short, I saw several pulmonologist, one who didn't think anything was wrong with me, so I went with a second opinion. In June of 2012 I had a right heart cath and I got my official diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension.

In July I was introduced to a specialist in PH. On July 26, 2012 I met my new doctor and I got the craziest news of my life. My doctor looked me in my eyes and said that because it took several months to diagnose me, and that my PH was progressing so rapidly, that I had about 2-3 years to live! WOW! Can you say reality check?!

The funny thing was that I knew I was really sick, I could feel it. My body had been shutting down for several months. Hearing this information didn't scare me, it made me realize that I need to make a choice, and my choice was to fight this! I told myself, No, I will not have an end date so soon. I will not be scared to die, but I will go out and live my life. The first thing was to improve my quality of life. I had to stop so many things I did before I was sick. In April of 2012 I had to leave the job I loved because I couldn't breath, and I was severely fatigued. I could not be active or work out. I could barely get myself dressed, or hold conversations with friends. I had a bad cough for over six months!

I will be honest, at one point, I felt defeated. I had to think about how many changes just happened to my life. I had to re think every move I made. I am a hard worker, and I loved working, but my doctor told me I couldn't do my job. I started to think about my legacy, and that became the driving force behind all that I do. I decided that I would live for the soul purpose to be happy. I let go of any stress. I embraced positivity. I let go of anger and negativity, and two years later I have never felt better. Yes, two years have passed, and I am still here.

I went to school for Fashion Design & Marketing, and I love the industry, but I know that my health will not put my in the middle of this fast paced cut throat industry. I found peace with that. I started designing and making bikinis, and people really love them, and so do I. I do love fashion and design, I enjoy being creative. My deepest passion though is helping others. When I was in management my favorite part of the job was working with people, and helping them reach their goals. That energizes me.

In February of 2013 I went back to school to become a Professional Life Coach. This was perfect for me because I can make my own schedule, work from home, and so what I love, help others. I soon realized that I wanted to build my business around helping people with illnesses. I remember thinking, "I really wish I had a coach to talk to when I was first diagnosed."

There have been so many struggles and life changes I have had to adapt to, but it is truly making me stronger. I am still perusing my dreams and my goals everyday. It is hard at times, especially when I get sick, or I am too tired. I know that what I am building will take time, but I will work at it everyday. Now, I am a wardrobe stylist, I get to help people find wonderful outfits, and its so rewarding to see how happy people get when they look great in an outfit. I still design and make bikinis, and I am excited to see where that takes me. I am also a Life Coach, and I am in the beginning stages of starting my own non-profit organization. I currently write for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association's PHPlus blog, and I am involved with the organization.

I started seeing a personal trainer in January of this year, and I workout at least three days a week. That is something that took me two years to achieve. I listen to my body, and I don't over do it, but it has been a challenge, and I have good and bad days, but it was a goal of mine, and I went after it.

My hope is that all people, but especially those who live with an illness really embrace life. I hope we can inspire each other, and know that we are not defeated by a diagnosis. We Can continue our life work. My legacy drives me, and I want to help people. I am available as a coach, a stylist, and a friend. Thank you for reading my story.

To learn more about Elisa please visit her website.

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