Faces of pulmonary hypertension
As a 21 year old woman attending college in Toronto, it was very difficult for me to imagine that an illness could possibly hit me at this stage in my life, but it did.
I slowly started to notice that my daily walk to school was actually getting more difficult to do and not easier, which struck me as being odd. So I brought up my concerns with my family doctor. A misdiagnosis of a mild case of asthma along with a variety of puffers led me to believe that all was good, but I wasn’t getting any better.
After several emergency visits, tests and a few specialist appointments, it was discovered that I had Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension (CTEPH), a disease caused by old micro blood clots that had been gradually adding up in my lungs since birth. Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs which forces the right side of the heart to work much harder than what it is designed to do. This causes extreme shortness of breath and very low tolerance to physical activity.
Over the years, I’ve always tried to keep a positive attitude when dealing with my lung disease and feel extremely grateful for the many good years that I have had. I have had tremendous support from all of my family and friends, as well as my specialists here in Ottawa. Now at the age of 31, I am currently on a new brand of meds and am being evaluated for a double lung transplant. No matter what the outcome may be and whichever one of these options works for me, I am so looking forward to being able to breathe again!