Esther's story is featured by Patient Voice *
“Since I moved to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago, I’ve always been on the go — working, raising my children, and spending time with family. In 2011, I moved in with my parents to help care for my mom, who had Alzheimer’s, and also my dad, who was diabetic. This went on for years. We’re a close family, and we take care of each other.
In 2013, my dad passed away. I talked to him the night he died and he said, ‘Make sure you look after your mother.’ I promised him I would. And I really tried.
In 2015, I started getting these flutters in my chest. I ignored it at first, but it was getting worse and worse. I finally went to see my family doctor and then a cardiologist, but they told me I was fine. Carry on, they said. So I did.
I had difficulty breathing, I was tired all the time, and I had to stop taking my hour-long walk at lunch. But I ignored all the signs that something was wrong. I continued working, taking care of my mom, and spending as much time as I could with my son. ‘Mom, you need to rest,’ he would say. Even as a child, he could tell that something wasn’t right.
When my breathing trouble and fatigue got really bad, I finally reached out to my doctor again. He sent me for an echocardiogram. After the test, a cardiologist told me that the right side of my heart was enlarged, and started a barrage of other tests. In late 2016, I received a bad news Christmas present: a pulmonary hypertension diagnosis.
I’m not able to go fishing and camping with my son anymore. I had to stop going to work. My whole life has changed. Pulmonary hypertension has taken a huge toll on me. I have to do things in intervals and take frequent rests. I’m in constant pain.
Worst of all, I wasn’t able to keep the promise I made to my dad — to take care of my mom. She passed away last year, and I still feel like I let my dad down. It’s hard to come to terms with that.
As women, we tend to ignore the pain and push onward — but we should really stop and listen to what our bodies are telling us. We have to take care of ourselves first. I learned this the hard way.”
PHA Canada thanks Patient Voice's efforts in promoting PH awareness!
*Patient Voice is a Canadian platform that shares stories from Canadian patients, caregivers, and clinicians. They do this in an effort to increase awareness of underrepresented areas in health, provide meaningful education, spark empathy and understanding, and ultimately help Canadians better understand their health.