30 Days of PH: How My PH Story Sparked a Lifetime Movie

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by BNS Staff |

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30 Days of PH | Pulmonary Hypertension News | Reader submission | 30 Days of PH graphic

Photo courtesy of Priya Balachandran

Day 21 of 30

This is Priya Balachandran’s (@pbinla) story:

“If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know, I would, just to spend whatever time I have with my miracle, Kali.”

I finish reading, a lump in my throat, and look up at the 12 strangers sitting in the small writing room at UCLA. This was the first time I had revealed my feelings about pulmonary hypertension (PH), and it was to a group of fellow classmates, nine months after giving birth to my daughter, Kali, and nearly dying in the process.

Little did I know that I would be repeating that story in many abridged versions whenever I needed to explain awkwardly to others the many “whys.” Why didn’t I have more kids? Why I couldn’t go on that amazing hike. Why I couldn’t jump up and dance to a song I loved. Why I couldn’t walk up to five flights of stairs at work. It was so embarrassing. I have never been weak, and I didn’t want pity.

However, I learned that ignoring my PH wasn’t going to help. I had many mini-death moments where I had ignored a simple cold or a sniffle and ended up in the ICU for days. I was in and out of hospitals every other year and each time it felt worse than the last. I realized I had to embrace PH.

Seventeen years later, I live with this condition as comfortably as I can. I call it my unwanted houseguest who must be fed and nourished with medication and self-care. The story I wrote and read to a room of strangers that first time was heard by a TV executive writing her own story in that same room. Ten years later, it was commissioned and became a Lifetime movie called “Fighting For Her Family,” which is airing now.

The movie had a happy ending, but for me and many of us out there, the fighting will continue. We can fight by embracing every breath we have, living for the now, and reminding ourselves that we are not weak. We are PHighters. We are PH Warriors.

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.