Pulmonary hypertension

PulmonaryHypertensionIt was just an ordinary echocardiogram. There are many different measurements, and diagnosis is based on certain readings – size of heart chambers, pressure within the chambers, etc.

Dr. Sonfield, the surgeon, had ordered it in 2/11 before inserting the Portacath (central line) into my right shoulder for chemotherapy.

Someone, I don’t know who, wrote in pen across the bottom of the printed report, “tell patient it’s okay”… and so I had the Portacath installed, went through chemo, surgery, radiation, etc.

But it wasn’t okay. That echocardiogram wasn’t okay.

Nobody ever told me that the individual parts of the echo (many different readings) were nowhere near normal. And neither was the official diagnosis at the bottom, Moderate Pulmonary Hypertension. Dr. Boulware had read the echo, but he wasn’t one of my own doctors. None of my doctors ever mentioned that diagnosis to me. I was never followed up for it or treated for it.

Earlier this year (2015), wondering why I hadn’t fully recovered my energy after all the chemo / radiation / surgery – plus being treated for hypothyroidism, probably caused by thyroid damage from all of the above – I asked for a referral to a cardiologist.

Soon thereafter I saw Dr. Bryan Wall at Pee Dee Cardiology, who ordered a stress test, EKG, and 2 week Holter monitor. (He did NOT order an echocardiogram, however.)

Those tests didn’t show anything that we didn’t already know about: hypertension, mild congestive heart failure, diastolic dysfunction, all of which I’d had for some years.

He said the next step would be a heart cath, and left it up to me whether to go ahead with that. I said I’d think about it. He didn’t change my BP medications or even suggest a regular FU with him, just said to call for an appt. if I needed to.

Well, I was still tired all the time and still puzzled as to why. I made up my mind to find out.  That day the Holy Spirit prompted me to pull out all my medical records and read them, one by one. (Back in 2011 I had requested a copy of the echo for my files, which I had simply filed away and didn’t read – bad mistake.)

And that’s when I found that echo report and got the really bad surprise. Diagnosis: Moderate Pulmonary Hypertension.

I started reading up on Pulmonary Hypertension, checking websites from Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association, and others. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Pulmonary_Hypertension_Causes_Symptoms_Diagnosis_Treatment

It was enlightening, to say the least. Pulmonary hypertension is an incurable and sometimes fatal blood vessel disease of the heart and lungs.

The vessels leading from the heart to the lungs are narrowed, not allowing the lungs to get enough blood to be re-oxygenated. The heart has to work harder, thus the heart chambers enlarge and the pressure inside the lungs increases.

Now I understood my symptoms. What I didn’t understand was why not a single physician treating me had ever so much as mentioned this condition. I went through stages of anger and fear – life expectancy from diagnosis to death is pretty short, usually. It had already been 4 years.

And then forgiveness, for the person who wrote that scribbled echo note “Okay” when it wasn’t, to the surgeon who ordered the echo and probably didn’t really read it, to the family physician who got a copy and probably didn’t read it either, etc., etc.

My next regular doctor’s appointment was soon, a FU with Dr. Bajaj (cancer doctor). I took the echo report and showed it to him. He was taken aback – he’d never seen it. He read it over carefully, then said it could have been a false positive but just to be sure he ordered a new echocardiogram.

Although there was no specific diagnosis line at the bottom of the new report, the individual abnormal readings were worse than the first one. Dr. Bajaj sent me back to see Dr. Wall.

This time Dr. Wall’s attitude was quite different – he took this diagnosis very seriously indeed. He and I have discussed the various causes and treatment options, the best place to begin, how to take care of myself at home, and next steps after that.

First thing he suggested was to switch the HCTZ I’d been taking to Lasix twice a day to eliminate what he said was probably 10 lbs. of excess fluid. So far I have lost at least that much and already feel better.

He also agreed with my new family physician’s (Heather Shelton) recommendations to change my diet to whole foods, no meat, no dairy. They recommended I read up on Dr. Esselstyn’s work at the Cleveland Clinic. http://www.dresselstyn.com/site/ The diet he recommends has been proven successful in reversing and preventing blood vessel disease. Reversing! That’s a good goal indeed – and so I took their advice.

So far so good. I don’t really miss the meat. I’ve been eating lots of beans, peas and leafy green vegetables, canned, fresh and frozen. I even bought canned collards which I’d never tried before. I re-cooked them about a half-hour with slices of green bell peppers and they were excellent. No strong taste or odor – the pepper slices eliminates those.

Paul and Laura gave me several jars of dehydrated beans and peas to try recently, which cook fast (less than 30 minutes) and taste delicious. I’m going to order a good supply to keep on hand. These are much quicker to prepare than the old-fashioned dried beans I was used to and I can order other kinds of veggies too.  http://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/Dehydrated-Beans_c_2.html

Beets, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, peppers, potatoes (red-skinned and sweet potatoes), plus fresh or canned fruit added to most meals brings the protein and calorie count up to good levels. I do still eat bread but not very much. I quit eating cookies, now just eat graham crackers for occasional desserts.

Dr. Wall also ordered a sleep study which showed mild sleep apnea. My O2 level dropped to 84% for a couple of minutes, otherwise was okay. I sleep fine, don’t snore, only had a couple of short apneic episodes during the study, not too bad overall. I’m awaiting a Rx for CPAP equipment, which may help some with morning tiredness. I’m certainly willing to try it –  that will add one more weapon to my arsenal.

Dr. Wall said that once we had all that under way, the next person I could see would be a pulmonologist, who would probably order a right heart cath to confirm the diagnosis. That will depend on how I respond to Lasix, new diet, CPAP, so it will be a few weeks.

So far only a few people outside my immediate family know about this latest health adventure, those who believe the way I do – John 10:10 – that the enemy is still out there, roaming around looking for somebody to steal from, kill and destroy. And friends who believe the way I do, that Father God wants us healed, whole, normal, and that we have the command, the authority and the ability to kick the enemy in the teeth and make him leave us alone.

“Speaking – are you still speaking to your body?” Dr. Bajaj asked me one day. Yes! Yes, I am! And I am still winning the battles. This one included.


1 Response to “Pulmonary hypertension”

  1. 1 Diane Brown
    September 11, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Bette, I am standing with you for health and wisdom as we watch and pray for our seed and nation! We need all the watchmen alive and well!
    Love you,

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Bette’s Journal

Bette Cox 2010

Christ is the "Big C" in my life!

That was told to me by a good friend recently, and it's so very true.

Jesus says in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

I believe Jesus. I hope you do too.

I have one request of other believers reading this journal:

Agree with me that the invader will shrink, shrivel, die and disappear from my body, whatever method the Lord uses to accomplish that.

Thanks in advance.


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