Friday, 5 August 2016

PHighter Friday: Elsa

My name is Elsa. I am a South African citizen, currently residing in Australia. I was born with congenital heart disease and a VSD was closed at age 10. During the procedure it was discovered that I had PH and I was left with a ASD that could not be closed due to the pulmonary pressures. I was not put on any medication at the time and was just sent home.
I suffered from frequent chest infections and in 1986 I ended up in hospital for 6 weeks with pneumonia and water in my heart sack. I nearly died but with the grace of God and my mother's persistence to insist a different antibiotic I pulled through. I started drinking Garlic and Parsley, and cod liver tables every day and until today I never had a chest infection again. Please note that this is my personal experience and in no ways intended as a medical opinion.*
I met my husband and got married in 1993. We were married for 5 years before we decided to start a family, but knowing the risks we consulted a intern specialist before and we were advised not to have a baby and rather seek alternative options. My husband's sister offered to be a surrogate mother and our baby boy was born healthy and strong without any health issues.

In about 2004 I was getting out of breath more easily and was sent to the city to see a specialist. He was brilliant and started me on Adalat, Spiractin and Aspirin. I was advised to start using nocturnal Oxygen too. This was the first treatment I got since 1983 when PH was diagnosed. It made a huge difference in how I felt and the oxygen at night would charge my batteries for the next day. I have always known my limits and would live accordingly but the new medication and oxygen just made my life easier.

I believe in living life as normal as possible and I have been working as a qualified hairdresser. When we moved to a rural location I opened my own hair salon from home, and worked full-time from 9-5 as a stylist. I had a full time maid that would help with chores in the house. This way I was free to work in my salon.

In 2011 PH south Africa was established and I was asked to be on the committee to raise awareness. We had a very active group, but in 2013 my husband was offered a position in Saudi Arabia and we moved to Jeddah. At first I thought the heat would affect me, but it did not, and living at sea level made a huge difference in how I felt. I had more energy.

I have joined the Saudi Association for Pulmonary hypertension as a honorary member assigned to Patient support. As a foreigner to a closed Muslim community that was a very big honour. I have learned a lot about the disease when I was invited to the International seminars we had in Oman, Abu Dhabi and Jordan.

In 2015 my pressures went up to 120 and I was put on Sildenafil as a treatment. I am using 75 mg of Viagra, and my pressures have since dropped to a stable 75.

Earlier this year we moved to Australia and I decided to have a career change. I have taken up a course in Pastoral Care and Dementia, and I am volunteering at the local nursing home 3 times a week.

I have always been a positive person, and I would not let my condition define me. I live life to the fullest, and believe that a positive attitude to live is beating the disease with at least 50%. If you look around you will see people that is worse off than yourself, and that keeps me going and motivates me. I live in a 3 level house and the stairs is a challenge, but I do one level at a time. I go for lengthy walks on a level surface and that is the best exercise for me. It is important to listen to your body and rest when you need it.

I am 43 years old now, and I am still going strong. Don't give up hope!

A doctor once told my mother I would not live to the age of 10....and gosh did I outlive that prediction. Live life to the fullest of your ability, and stay positive and strong. Thank God for every

day as it is a precious gift.

Take care and feel free to join my Facebook page SAUDI ASSOCIATION FOR PULMONARY HYPERTENSION - SAPH.

*The PHight or Flight Project does not endorse or recommend taking any medications, including natural supplements without discussing them with a medical professional. Please be sure to discuss your treatment options with a professional, such as a specialist. The PHight or Flight Project does not offer medical advice, and the opinions are based solely upon the writer.


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