30 Days of PH: Be Your Own Best Advocate

BNS Staff avatar

by BNS Staff |

Share this article:

Share article via email
30 Days of PH | Pulmonary Hypertension News | Reader submission | 30 Days of PH graphic

Photo courtesy of Katie Sample

Day 5 of 30

This is Katie Sample’s (@katiecomansample) story:

My story begins with my husband, Bruce, who was a cancer survivor. Bruce unexpectedly passed away on April 13, 2018. We had been together for nearly 10 years. We were both attorneys (I still am) at the same firm.

Bruce’s health was fragile, and he had several bouts in the hospital. I was by his side and helped him navigate insurance issues and make healthcare decisions.

After Bruce died, I took time away from work. In January 2019, I traveled to Jordan and hiked Petra. I was very short of breath. While I completed the hike, I knew something was wrong. My shortness of breath continued, along with severe fatigue, but I ignored the symptoms and returned to work.

On Feb. 26, 2020, I was walking up the stairs of a parking structure when I became light-headed. I stumbled to my car and slumped into the front seat. I fainted and woke up confused. Still, I did not grasp the seriousness of the situation, and drove myself home.

The following day, I went to the ER. I was initially told that my echo was normal, so I signed the paperwork to go home. I woke up the next morning with a voicemail from the cardiologist in the ER, telling me I needed to return immediately. He said it was a matter of “life or death.”

Over the next several days, I underwent every test under the sun. A right heart catheterization on March 4, 2020, confirmed that I had pulmonary hypertension. I was 37, and my son was 4.

After finding a wonderful specialist at UCLA, I am now on triple oral therapy, and my numbers have improved.

I am proof that life doesn’t stop with this diagnosis. I work full-time, take my son to school every day, and am relatively active. However, I know my limits, and can no longer run more than a block or two.

As a caretaker for my husband, I was vigilant about his every symptom, but I later ignored my own symptoms. I hope my story helps others to take control of their health and be their own best advocate.

Pulmonary Hypertension News’ 30 Days of PH campaign is publishing one story per day from someone who has been affected by the disease for PH Awareness Month in November. Read the full series for more stories like this, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtag #30DaysofPH.