30 Days of PH: Caring for My Wife From PH to Transplant

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by BioNews Staff |

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A woman stands on a rock with her arms spread, overlooking the Grand Canyon. She's wearing a beanie, a jacket, jeans, and boots.

Bryan’s wife, Tammy. (Photo courtesy of Bryan Stephens)

Day 23 of 30

This is Bryan Stephens’ story:

I’m Bryan, and I was born and raised in Texas. I served in the U.S. Army for 15 years and am a retired combat veteran. My wife, Tammy, had pulmonary hypertension (PH) and is a transplant recipient.

Although I am her provider and caregiver, she is a very independent person. Tammy does her share of providing and caring for me, due to the PTSD I struggle with from combat overseas. We understand each other, as we both have been through our fair share of trials in life.

My wife is doing amazing post-transplant. Sometimes there are bumps in the road. But with my help and care and her determination to live, we both get through them. God has been at the center of it all.

I missed Tammy a lot while she was recovering from her transplant in Houston, but I knew I had to stay home in Paige, Texas, to continue to provide for us. I’m very thankful for her mother, who stayed in Houston for months to care for Tammy. And Tammy’s father went without his wife during that time. It was a sacrifice for us, but well worth it to get her new lungs.

Sometimes that period was stressful and caused us anxiety, but we would FaceTime and talk every day. Tammy always wanted to see her fur babies because they mean so much to us. Staying busy with work and routine is what got me through the days. Tammy’s family and my positivity, faith, and background as an E-6 staff sergeant are what helped me to continue the mission and reach the finish line, bringing her home.

When Tammy and I met, I didn’t understand what PH was or how sick she really was. It wasn’t until we started living together that I truly understood the severity of her disease and how tired it made her while doing the simplest tasks. I fell in love with her despite her sickness; most people would have run away.

We married a year later, and I saw the decline in her health. She went from using oxygen only at night to using it all day. A few years later, she declined to the point where she had to be hospitalized. I will always remember the day she called me to say that she had gotten the call: a match for new lungs! I haven’t been the easiest person to live with, but I always stood by her side and helped her through this. She has been through a lot; I will love and stand beside her until the day she leaves this earth.

Tammy’s strength and will to survive are what have gotten her this far. She lives for others, especially her family and close friends. We have many plans together and goals to achieve. My advice for others facing transplants, or for caregivers or spouses of transplant patients, is don’t give up and don’t run.

Pulmonary Hypertension News’ 30 Days of PH campaign will publish one story per day for PH Awareness Month in November. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPH, or read the full series.

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