Gina Whitelock: A Year With Pulmonary Hypertension

September 14,2017

August 26, 2016, the day my life was forever changed. A specialist told me I had pulmonary hypertension. He explained that he treats two types of patients, severe and mild. He said the right side of my heart was enlarged nearly four times normal. The small, almost invisible to the naked eye, vessels in my lungs were like a garden hose that someone had pinched shut. If we didn’t find a way to immediately open them, my heart would fail from the strain of all the blood backing up, and I would die.

He asked if I thought I was one of his severe patients or not. I said I would definitely say severe. That left me with few options for treatment and very very little time to make decisions. He left his nurse to explain to me that choosing IV therapy drugs would be best, but there was a heavy price to pay. I would be unable to have any more children (which we had already decided as a family that it would not happen).

The side effects could be brutal and nearly unbearable at times, and discontinuing the medication could cause an immediate sudden onset of symptoms and a high possibility of heart failure. Not to mention I would have to learn how to care for what amounts to an open wound in my chest as they placed a catheter to administer the continuous flow of medication that would save my life. It was a lot to take in, but I made the choice to fight.

Fast forward one year…

I thank God for the chain of events that led to being diagnosed so quickly, and brought me to the right doctors and nurses to provide immediate care for me. I thank God for protecting my heart and mind from the complete despair and depression that could’ve taken me. I thank God for the medication that worked quickly and correctly with my body to open the blood vessels and begin reducing the size of my heart to a more normal size.

I thank God for the people who have rallied around my family and myself to lift us in prayer and assist whenever needed. I thank God I have only had to be hospitalized ONCE since my initial diagnosis and ICU stay. I thank God for every minute of LIFE I have been able to enjoy this year. No one is guaranteed a single second, yet I have been granted an entire year. It’s been a hard year of learning, growth, and change but I am SO BLESSED to have had it.

Now that I have thanked God for what I’ve been given, I ask that those of you who pray and have been praying…keep seeking His will for my life. I believe I am not finished yet, I have ideas and dreams of things I still wish to accomplish. But I won’t ask for nothing but His will, whatever that may be.

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