By the Power of Love, I’m Still Here After Open-chest Surgery

A columnist talks about what sustained her during a 10-day hospital stay

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by Brittany Foster |

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My two favorite female singers, Celine Dion and Carrie Underwood, have songs about love and the power it holds.

Dion belted out the following lyrics in her timeless classic “The Power of Love”: “We’re heading for something/ Somewhere I’ve never been/ Sometimes I am frightened/ But I’m ready to learn/ Of the power of love.

Carrie Underwood also had a message about love. Her song “So Small” is about figuring out what matters in life. Its lyrics hold so much relatable truth, saying, “And when you figure out love is all that matters after all/ It sure makes everything else seem so small.”

I’m bringing up these two songs about love because of the difficult and unimaginable reality that has been my life with pulmonary hypertension for the past few months. At my weakest and most fragile, amid my physically and emotionally vulnerable moments, through pain I didn’t think I’d be able to breathe through, I found the strength to keep going.

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Having Hope Saved My Life Before Major Surgery

Two months ago, my life changed the second I was wheeled into an operating room to have open-chest surgery on the major vessels of my aorta, the very top of my heart. I’d later spend 10 days in the hospital for what should’ve been a three-night stay.

I endured a major complication requiring an emergent chest tube for a pleural effusion, which is the buildup of excess fluid outside the lungs. Miraculously, by some force more powerful than myself, I’m still here. That force, to me, is love — love from my mother and family, complete strangers and friends, and a desire to celebrate love itself. My love for life itself saved me.

During my worst minutes that felt like hours, the physical presence of my mother filled me with warmth and calm. She never once left my side. She’s a woman with more grace and fortitude than I can dream of having. I felt the comfort of her unwavering support and persistent advocacy.

I received so much support and words of encouragement from friends who simply let me know, “I’m here.” Those who follow me on my social media platforms sent me more prayers and well wishes than I ever imagined being worthy of.

I felt so much love during this grueling time of my life from a best friend who flew to Massachusetts from Florida to be with me. She continued to remind me “we will figure it out.” She brought me laughter as we walked around the hospital room in an attempt to drain my chest tube of fluid. Even the thought of love itself motivated me to get out of the hospital a day before my sister’s wedding.

Because of love, I forced myself to gather the will to keep breathing through the pain. I recall having an inner dialogue with myself, begging my body to keep going, pleading to help me stay alive one more day.

The most powerful love I felt during the entire 10 days in the hospital was the love I have for simply being alive. This is why I’m here today. It’s the only thing that mattered during my darkest hours, and it’s the only thing that matters currently. Love will get me through the rest of my life, as frightened and unsure as I am for what’s to come.

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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


Elaine Jones avatar

Elaine Jones

Great story

Dorothy Irwin-Browning avatar

Dorothy Irwin-Browning

Brittany, this is not only beautifully written but so inspiring to me. Some parts I identify with as well. My multiple diagnoses are so complex that I am not sure usually what is at play with symptoms. Doctors seem to shy away from my case. So, at times it gets lonely. But what keeps me hopeful and getting out of my bed is my love of life. I have wonderful memories and there is so, so much more I want to do. It's hard to end each day recognizing that I achieved almost nothing beyond grooming but ALWAYS I think of how much better tomorrow is going to be; the energy level, breathing, and on and on. I Then begin making a plan for what tomorrow might look like. Not so different from the way you think but it does sound like you have knowledgeable and involved medical people working for you. I'm fortunate to have a very devoted caregiver, my husband Jim. At 80 I've lost most of my friends and caring neighbors but still have 1 friend who is closer than ever!

Steve Sallee avatar

Steve Sallee

Felt the same after my lung transplant. Except for me it was the unselfish gift from the donor. Wrote to the family to let them know how much this gift meant to me. Never heard back but what was important is that they know what a life-saving gift it was.

Vicky Olsen avatar

Vicky Olsen

Brittany, It's great to see your outcome turning out well for you after all your problems post surgery. All the love around you and within you does make a difference.
You give me hope for myself with my various health concerns - which seem to have grown exponentially this month. Thank you.

MamaBear avatar


Love truly can make all the difference in the world. I'm glad you're still with us, and I pray that you have a full recovery.

Sabrina Johnson avatar

Sabrina Johnson

Brittany, so true and beautiful. Glad for your recovery, and that prayers were answered.

Randy Reynolds avatar

Randy Reynolds

You have shared your life's events with such passion that it seems that the power of the Holy Spirit has sustained you through your love. I think of you as the Joni Erickson Tata of the PAH community. Yours is a life of purpose. There are many people who could use this kind of positive view.


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