Patient story

Pauline Fischer

Hello to my fellow PH'ers! My name is Pauline and I suffer every day with PH. I was diagnosed with secondary pulmonary hypertension in 2001. I had had a serious heart attack in February of that year. I ended up in ICU for nine days fighting for my life. I had a heart number of 97 and the electrical part of my heart was not working properly. The cardiologist put a pacemaker in to kick my heart up to where I should be. The pacemaker keeps my heart beating at a normal pace. When the doctors measured my heart with the catheter, like I said, it measured 97. They diagnosed me at that time. The doctor also suspected that I had sleep apnea.

When I was moved to a regular hospital room, I knew I was out of danger. When I finally was released after 20 days, the doctor told my husband to treat me well and get my "ducks in a row." I was not put on any medications other than my cardiac meds. I still had all the symptoms. I could hardly keep my eyes open and I slept a lot during the day. At night I had nightmares about dying.

I could no longer work. I was a teacher for 25 years, and I had left the classroom in ‘96 (after being named "Teacher of the Year" out of 2,500 teachers! I was quite honored!). Upon leaving the classroom I became a curriculum implementer. My job was to help teachers to deliver the curriculum with innovative strategies. I loved the job; I had my own Office, my Principal was my best friend and I even had my own telephone and window air conditioner! Wow, I had it made.

To get back to my illness: I have diabetes, anemia, sleep apnea, congestive heart failure and secondary PH. The doctors know what caused my PH: the heart problems and diabetes. I do suffer everyday with my PH. In 2005 I was put on Revatio and I felt somewhat better right away. By the way, I've been on oxygen since 2001! The pain is tightness and squeezing of my chest, fatigue and shortness of breath. With the Revatio, along with all the cardiac meds, I have managed to get my echo number down to 52. I am on 32 pills a day to keep this old Granny a-going.

I have always lived my life with My Lord God. I put my life in His hands and, for some reason, my time is not up! Since I was diagnosed with my illness in 2001, I have watched all three of my siblings suffer and die of cancer. If I could survive that hurt, I guess I can endure anything. My husband has been my caretaker for eight years now. He has had to do many things to help me like wash my fanny, etc. He never complains...he is a Saint! He is ill now with an aneurysm in his heart. I pray every day that Our Lord will take me Home before my dear husband. If I would lose him, I surely would die of a "broken heart." Have hope…I have lived eight years and they were wrong, huh?


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The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.