COVID-19 Interrupted my PH Progress: Victoria Mercado

May 01,2020

Several years ago after having many physical health concerns, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, etc., I couldn’t do normal everyday tasks like cleaning, walking, or playing outside with my pups. I was scared. I had chest pain and I slept a lot. I wasn’t living, I was existing. The unknown was scary, but what would happen to me was scarier.

I didn’t know who to talk to about what was happening to my body because I was ashamed. I feared I would be judged because I looked healthy but felt so bad. I kept what I knew to myself and tried to live life. I couldn’t do that anymore, so I went to the cardiologist, and he suggested a heart catheterization. With the results, I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. I was in shock, but was in denial mode. I didn’t know what to do.

I had so many things going through my mind at once. I had kids, pets, and a life. I adopted my kids, and I was afraid of what could happen to them if something happened to me. They were babies when they lost their first family, so they didn’t remember much, but now they would. It just turned my world upside down. After I vented about my feelings, I had to figure out how to make life better So I could be here for my kids to grow up.

I realized that I had to do less in my days in order to do more. This meant if I wanted to play with my kids I had to do it sitting on the couch. When I went to work I had to do less walking and sit more. I had to do baby steps in my journey to make it. It was a hard and long journey and I’ve done so much to be better. I made a schedule one week at a time, I started eating better, I was still working, but trying not to exhaust myself. I planned and napped in between activities because I couldn’t do a lot of what I used to do. I still can’t, but I’m getting better at doing what I can, and rewarding myself daily.

Everything was better. I was living life again, even though it was a lot slower than I planned. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my world was shattered. Fear and anxiety came over me and I’m so stressed. The what-ifs came back. Even though my kids are older now I still have pets that depend on me. They too were rescued and the thought of it happening again to them scares me.

Because of the pandemic and being at home due to shut-downs I’ve lost hours from work and I can’t pay my household bills. My body is reacting to the stress, so I’m now having physical symptoms of pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue that I can’t control. I’m trying to do what I can to make it through this situation. Some days are worse than others for me.

Having PH, I’m afraid of what would happen if I became infected, so I’m constantly washing my hands and using hand sanitizer when I’m out. I don’t touch anything without cleaning it first with a clorox wipe. If i go out I take off my clothes by the door and put them in the washer and go straight to the shower. I’m in constant contact with all my doctors just in case something happens. I have a list of contacts and all my medications written down just in case.

I try to watch positive movies and television shows. I stay away from anything negative. It’s hard enough, so I’m not putting myself in or around any negative situations. It is tough having so many mixed feelings of how I will make it through until COVID-19 goes away.

Victoria received COVID-19 relief funds from the Team PHenomenal Hope Unmet Needs Patient Impact Fund. Learn more about how this fund supports PH patients at teamph.org/unmetneeds.

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