This podcast series, created and produced by phaware, is a regular feature on Pulmonary Hypertension News. It brings the voices and life experiences of PH patients, family members, caregivers, healthcare specialists, and others to our readers. You can listen to the podcast directly, or read the transcript here.
I’m Aware That I’m Rare: Candy Morehouse
The phaware™ interview
PH patient Candy Morehouse shares her amazing story of a bypass surgery that led to a pulmonary hypertension diagnosis after she had spent 26 days in a coma.
My name is Candy Morehouse and I’m from Queensbury, New York.
In 2014, I worked 60 hours a week, and I started having chest pain. They tested me, they decided that I had clogged arteries in my heart, left side of my heart. They did heart cath, they sent me for bypass surgery, I went for bypass. During the bypass, no one knew that I had pulmonary hypertension. I coded [had cardiopulmonary arrest] on the table twice.
They didn’t have a DNR [do not resuscitate order] in place, so they had to put me on life support. They put me on the life support. My pulmonary pressure, they said at that time, was 180. They told my family on Aug. 26th, 26 days after I went into the coma, shut the machines off. Even if I lived, I would have zero quality of life. I’d have to go to Westchester, and that was the only place I could get rehab. My kids were like, “No, we don’t really want to do this.”
Well, I was in the room when they said. I heard them, and I thought, “Oh my God, they’re going to kill me because they don’t know that I’m in my body.” Apparently then I started fighting the medication they had me on, because Aug. 28th I woke up. I stayed vented, I couldn’t breathe on my own, until actually Sept. 15th, so I was on life support for 45 days, but on Sept. 15th they decided I was strong enough. They took all the machines away. I just had a trach [tracheotomy tube}.
They told me I’d probably never be able to talk because I had been vented so long and trached so long. They gave me a Passy-Muir valve, that was their first mistake. My daughter said, “Don’t give it to her,” and I’ve talked ever since, but I also have lost the trach.
They said I’d never walk, I’d never talk. I walked out of the hospital 62 days later. I still live today to tell my story, and maybe if I’d have been diagnosed earlier, they could have done something sooner, before all that happened.
I don’t want somebody else to have to go through what I did. My doctor actually thinks possibly my dad and my brother died from pulmonary hypertension because they had never been diagnosed. Maybe if they had been diagnosed, they could have been treated. My brother died when he was 35 years old, just dropped dead one day.
I actually could hear people talking. When they used to say to me, “People can hear when they’re in a coma,” I thought they were crazy. How can you hear? You’re unconscious. How do you know what people are saying? When I woke up, I repeated many things that had been said to me while I was in the coma, and I maybe didn’t have everything in exact detail right, but I heard many, many conversations and repeated them once I woke up. I did see the light, I did see, my husband came and said, “Come on with me,” and I said, “I’m not finished. I have to go back. My mother is waiting for me.” I eventually woke up and that was that.
Now I can’t work at all. Both of the jobs that I did were very active. I can’t maintain my own oxygen, I have to be on the machine. I can’t do the extent of my work on the oxygen. I did activities, an activity program with the elderly, and I did a physical therapy program with the elderly, so I couldn’t do that, so I don’t work at all. I volunteer, I still dance or I do whatever crazy thing I can do to make people happy at the nursing homes.
That’s probably the biggest change, not getting up and going to work in the morning, because I loved my work. There’s a lot more to life, and live every minute for every breath you can take. Enjoy your life, do what you can do, and what you can’t do, pass it on until the next day.
I’m Candy, and I’m aware that I’m rare!
EVERYBODY HAS A STORY. WHAT’S YOURS?
Phaware wants to share your pulmonary hypertension story with their engaged global audience. Whether you are a patient, caregiver, or medical professional, they are enlisting PH community members from across the globe. Visit www.phaware.global/podcast to share your story and to be considered for a future episode.And learn more about pulmonary hypertension at www.phaware.global. #phaware #phawarepod
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.