I have been living with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension for over 13 years. I was diagnosed at the age of 23 and have spent the majority of my adult life unable to walk up a flight of stairs without needing to stop and catch my breath. I have passed out more times than I care to remember from mild exertion. I know exactly what it feels like to not be able to breathe and in those moments there really is nothing else that matters. Over time, with treatment, my symptoms were much less severe but it is a constant battle when you have a progressive lung disease. I have to track my symptoms and adjust treatment regularly to combat my PAH which has no known cause. I make sure to exercise as best I can and do anything I can to be as healthy as possible but so much of it is out of my control.
In February of 2020 I was hospitalized for observation after an appointment with my doctor where my heart went into arrhythmia after I couldn’t catch my breath when I was performing a 6-minute walk which consists of walking on a flat surface for 6 minutes. This led to a change in my treatment and since then my entire life has changed. For the first time I felt like I could really breathe. I remember describing it to a friend by saying that it felt like I had tons of extra room in my lungs and that it felt really weird.
That April I was able to run for the first time in my adult life. Since I started running I have completed multiple races including several 5k’s, a 10k, a 15k, and a half marathon. I hope to complete a full marathon in November of 2021. Running is something that I always longed to do but never thought would ever be possible for me because of PAH. This has been one of the most amazing years of my life and I am so thankful for the advancements that have been made in treatment for PAH. I am currently take 3 oral medications, none of which were available during my initial diagnosis in 2008. Funding medical research is an amazing gift and can really make a difference in the lives of so many people who struggle with breathing.