How Convenient.

Six years later, and the thought of my upcoming echocardiogram (and other tests) to see if my new treatment is working is still unsettling. In a couple of days I will see my heart glowing on a black and white screen not knowing it’s fate, and I can always tell when the sonogram tech is fresh because they possess no poker face. After that I’ll walk repeated laps for six minutes in a hospital hallway to see how far my oxygen dips, and of course they will jam a needle into my arm to file away my blood in multicolored tubes.

You see, I have been doing this since I was eighteen because that’s when I was told I was dying. Eighteen is when I was being asked what my end of life decisions should be, how I needed to pay for new costly medication, I can never conceive a child, and everything I thought I knew had been completely wiped out. I will never forget all the “we love you”, “praying”, and other types of comments. The phone calls, and the overall “new” concern that fades. People return back to their lives, their normality, and their family…and yes, I’m still dying.

staygold3Dedicated to the lovely Jenny Janzer

I seem cold-hearted to many and even brutal in my attitude, however what you don’t sense is pure exhaustion. While you see my disease occasionally and you put a sad face on a status I made about my anger – I live with Pulmonary Hypertension daily. I don’t have a choice to hide anything, or forget about my lungs. I instead have to take medication, endure its side effects, wear oxygen, drive to the doctors which means appointments at the hospital, and of course the impending task of hearing how far my disease has progressed. Others who are usually the first to criticize get to kiss their children, go for a run, and probably haven’t been to the doctors in over a year. “Life is unfair” someone told me. I mean, really? You feel comfortable saying that to someone who is battling their own body, who blames them-self, and fights unimaginable grief?

Just because you do not experience, or relate to my pain does not mean it isn’t real.

Just because you do not feel my pain does not mean you get to label it for your convenience. The only label I choose to wear is “fighter.”

“She’s crazy, she’s intense, she’s just weird.” No, she’s just fighting death at twenty-four, and trying to cope with that while still alive.


A new “song of the week” is up! Take a listen.

Yes, It’s Traumatic.

Once Pulmonary Hypertension was brought to my attention, it’s been nothing but a life altering path I did not choose, but was forced to take. The public has a notion that a disease is sitting in a doctor’s office a little more than once a year, and maybe (maybe) sometimes it gets in the way. When a disease arrives, it brings all of it’s baggage: insurance hassles (or life terrifying moments when insurance threatens not to pay for anything anymore), financial struggles, side effects of medication, unplanned trips to bigger and better hospitals…the list really could go on and on. We learn of something new all the time, and with each changing phase in life brings a new set of baggage from this disease. The load is burdensome. But, the most important, ignored, and heaviest one? The mental, and brain health struggles.

I have been living with Pulmonary Hypertension well, since I can remember, eleven, but diagnosed six years. The past two years have been exceptionally difficult with a prescription drug addiction (doctors pushed Xanax rather than looking into a deeper problem) and I felt like I just couldn’t focus. I was so distracted by pure anger, anxiety, and it felt like every emotion I had tricked myself into believing was not there finally rose to the surface. I tried to fix it myself by throwing away my Xanax, and I picked my life up and moved. Change felt amazing, it took the edge off my problem, but deep deep deep in the background I still could not get control over anxiety, depression, and rage. Lots of it. Finally, I stepped into a therapists office surrendering to my “I will pick myself up” attitude. After a lot of sessions, his biggest concern with me was my PTSD, and severe anxiety. My what? I knew I had anxiety, but PTSD was in my mind someone who survived an attack. “Well, technically you have.” That was his response.

“Chronic illness is traumatic on both levels–the physical obviously, but also the mental and emotional. People who are ill very often display classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress, even if they don’t have the full-blown disorder.” -Psychology Today

“Individuals experiencing chronic diseases have been studied with regard to depression, anxiety, and a variety of coping maladaptions, but negligible attention has been given to the PTSD potential of chronic disease over the life course.” –

As stated in my ignorance, I had not even given consideration to the fact that PTSD lingered outside the soldiers category; And the problem with this is that most of the world sees it this way too. We have not yet put together that a majority of chronically ill patients are also suffering from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder because being told “you have an incurable and terminal disease” is trauma in itself. Not including the daily alterations we must make to maintain a new normal that we did not choose, on top of surgeries, and bad news. The dangerous thing about this trauma? We are living inside of it everyday. Having undiagnosed PTSD was not even knowing of its existence, not knowing I had triggers, as well as not being able to identify my triggers, and having no idea I was suffering intensely mentally. Instead I was telling myself that “I was always going to be this out of control”, “Never going to find an escape”, or maybe “I needed to kill myself.” Yes, those are real thoughts in the middle of an attack. They aren’t comforting are they?

“But for some, it might be better not to shrug off problems, but rather to acknowledge the dark side. By recognizing the traumatic aspects of illness the ill person can potentially break through denial, modulate obsession, and lessen rage.” -Psychology Today


Original art by Haley Ann


Since I’ve opened my mind to the presence of my PTSD diagnosis I’m not going to say it has become easier. However, maintaining and openly dealing with the trauma, and triggers has lifted some weight. Now I will be able to communicate to health professionals about how I feel in the moment rather than becoming enraged, and shutting down. It has opened a door in communication that I did not know I had, and developing an understanding towards myself. The best part? I am picking myself up. I just needed someone to show me how.


Please understand that mental health is an invisible disease just like PH. Your brain is an organ, and it deserves it’s own upkeep. If you feel like you are suffering then please find a professional to help your pain.

Stay Gold.

Don’t meet others expectations for you. Don’t expect anyone’s understanding towards your suffering, and do not apologize for your pain. Do set your own goals, and meet your own expectations for yourself despite what society wants for “you.” Do feel your pain, acknowledge it, and do not hide your suffering. Stay Gold to what you are, what you feel, and what you do. Stay Gold to what you need, and what you want. Stay Gold to all those little things that appear shattered and broken in your mind, but so delicately and warmly reflect you.

Stay Gold to you.



Awareness IS Power.

I guess you could call me a realistic type of person; for those of us who say that we often border the “negative” side to life. We are hushed, scolded, and covered up while others keep talking about their blessed life, and glare at humans who have an outcry. That’s fine, and all well for you, but my voice and my passion does not exist without a drive…and what drives me are the faults I have been born into. It’s okay to say that. I have a very faulty life. What makes it okay to say that? Well, it’s very hard to keep endless anger and pain locked inside of yourself. My organs are heavy from a daily battle against themselves, and quite frankly, I refuse to let them swim in a secret pain so that others may continuously live a life of comfort.


The world is in a very weird, and groundbreaking place – can we all agree on that? I think because of the power of social media, life experiences, and just plain intelligence that people (and definitely our kids) are coming in tune with an “awareness.” They get political issues, social issues, climate issues, personal issues, drug issues, racial issues…all of the ugliness delivered to their LED screens, or experience this in their daily life. I feel that America’s new generations are creating a voice for themselves on racial issues, political issues, women’s rights, and yes even healthcare issues because they want to see change. All of the not-so-comforting news that the world has tried to lock away in some secret closet is finally exploding because of the want for change, and awareness. While having your head in the sand might sound lovely, appreciating and trying to help others pain is more rewarding. With awareness I feel it creates intelligent, cultured people who will connect to others easily and form a genuine respect for another persons’ life. A fabulous example of this? Humans of New York. Hearing the struggles behind ordinary faces in turn creates a sea of emotion in us, and a connection to our fellow beings.

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I will not hide my anger, or pain for your comfort. Yes, I will try to be positive while being realistic. I want America to see what such young/ordinary looking people with an invisible illness do daily just to breathe. I want everyone to open their eyes, and mind to what a person really feels with a terminal illness – not just what books and movies let you think. I want the world to see how much companies from movie industries to insurance companies are profiting off of sick beings – including children. I want people to be aware.

Awareness is knowledge. Awareness is power. Awareness is respect. Awareness can change anything.



Hear what I’m currently jamming to under “song of the week”🙂

“Slow Down.”

Having a rare disease where no one knows what’s wrong in the first place is frustrating. A word in correlation with my diagnosis is “idiopathic” meaning of no known origin. No top medical specialist in the world can tell me why the arteries in my lungs decided to shrink. Do you know how many times I have had to explain my condition to even doctors hoping to god they wouldn’t kill me by accident? Do you know how many people think I’m lying about how serious my condition is? So many patients are misdiagnosed, ignored, and not taken seriously for years often escaping a chance to be early diagnosed providing them with options, and yes, some people lose their life instead. Knowing what’s happening inside of a Pulmonary Hypertension patient’s body even during an “episode” could not only help you truly understand what they feel, it also could potentially save their life.


Pulmonary Hypertension is not high blood pressure in this whole person’s body. No, I do not relate to your mother’s, sister’s, cousin’s, brother’s friend…that would be regular hypertension. Pulmonary means lungs; I have high blood pressure in my lungs only. How? The pulmonary arteries themselves are very very small therefore oxygenated blood cannot move through them at a regular speed like blood would through a regular very open artery. If you asked an entire high school class to walk down a huge hallway then asked them to all walk down a tiny corridor – which one would they make it through faster?


When the blood gets backed up in these tiny arteries (the tiny corridor) oxygenated blood is not getting to vital organs in time. The body panics, and the heart picks up the slack by pumping harder and faster thinking it can make up for this problem. Why is this bad? After a while, the heart pumping harder and faster is not a great thing. It’s only one of our most vital organs – why would it be good to over work it? As any muscle would when you work it, it grows. This may have been acceptable for the Grinch, but I’m a human and a growing heart causes heart failure. So now my lung disease is starting to affect other organs. My heart was formed normally, and was just fine until it decided to overcompensate for my deformed lungs.


A lot of people might see me “slow down”, start breathing hard, or hear me tell them to “wait”. This is the beginning of an “episode” – something I have always called the very painful and terrifying moments when my body is receiving literally no oxygenated blood. Just walking around like a normal person, a Pulmonary Hypertension patient’s heart beats like we’re running a marathon. It takes A LOT of effort to pump through these tiny arteries, and get the blood to vital organs. Certain activities that you don’t even think about can upset our heart, and take it by surprise. It differs from every patient – what treatment they are on, what their activity level is, what stage of PH or heart failure they are in, how long they have been living with it…all of this plays into their daily life function.

When I decide to jump up after laying down a while (first thing in the morning, after a nap, after being a vegetable at all) my heart freaks out. My activity level just went from zero to full blast. When walking on a slight incline, or walking long distance, I can feel a dull throbbing in my head and I start to gasp. When climbing stairs, I usually can do about four to five before I have to take a deep breather. On my absolute worst days, washing my hair and applying my makeup can take hours because lifting my arms above my head is nearly impossible. So what is happening during all of these what seem like regular activities? Why am I slowing down?

As stated before, the blood is backed up in the lungs and is not moving through fast enough. My heart starts beating uncontrollably hard to push faster to start sending this oxygenated blood out to all of my vital organs. The first place where I am NOT receiving oxygen is my brain which is why the dull throbbing headache starts. My vision blurs, along with my hearing, I can’t communicate very well, and yes I’ve been known to become combative out of pain and confusion. Having no oxygenated blood in the organ that keeps you awake is kind of terrifyingly painful. If I am even still awake at this point, I usually cannot move my legs, and definitely can’t feel my arms. None of my muscles feel refreshed because they haven’t received blood flow either. This for me leads to extreme cramping, and zero movement. By this time usually I have lost consciousness. When your brain doesn’t receive oxygenated blood, no power source, it shuts off. Hopefully around five minutes later I wake up feeling shaky, and exhausted. My heart just beat so erratically out of sheer panic, and my body didn’t receive the thing that keeps us alive – oxygenated blood. Yes yes yes – we can die from this. What’s even scarier is that it does NOT take a hike to do this. It takes a flight of stairs, a walk across the parking lot, getting out of bed, lifting our arms, getting dressed…it’s just that easy.

Understanding exactly what is happening in a Pulmonary Hypertension patient’s body saves lives. Understanding our bodies helps us feel a little less like an alien too. What can you do around a PH patient who might be having an episode? Call an ambulance, provide oxygen if you have it, and provide the knowledge about this rare disease to medical professionals so they don’t accidentally kill us too.😉

It’s not dramatic, it’s a life or death situation in the most casual atmosphere of just walking around, or getting out of bed.

Do you remember where you were, or what you were doing when you had your first episode? Do you remember the pain?


Close the Fucking Curtain.

Yes, I tend to be a closed off person. And yes, most of the time I can’t be found because I’m tucked away with Rocco. I can only handle so much person to person time, and long for the moments I come home to only a little black cat. With that being said, I feel like it’s somewhat a great time to be alive (eeehhh?!) for introverts because thanks to companies like Buzzfeed, we can now scroll through posts that point out the hilarity in our non social-ness making us feel just a tad bit better about our habits.

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While I’ve always enjoyed my introverted side, I at one point had no problem being an extrovert. I was on stage in pageants (yikes) competed all over the place in dance, and performed many many recitals. The stage was actually quite comfortable. However, this whole disease process has yet again altered my mind and spirit in ways that I didn’t know it could reach.

I have a problem expressing myself because I feel like I have been passed around (quite literally) for many medical professionals, counselors, advocates, and doctors to see. My life has been summed up into “patient info”, test results, numbers, and expected outcomes. Anyone who ever wanted to know me could sit in on meetings that they have after doctors speak with me, and try to discuss with their team what my next life decision could/should be.

On top of my medical life story, I have doctors in my uterus watching carefully to make sure I don’t pro-create. God forbid I act humanly, one slip up, and it’s over. It gets better this time – not only are my doctors going to have to hear about this, but America too! We have all these lovelies protesting at abortion clinics calling people a whore, slut, or sinner. One slip up, and could I even have access to a safe abortion in America anymore?

Besides my medical background, and uterus issues, I also have people shaving my crotch before surgeries just in case they need access to my femoral artery. I have people moving my breasts out-of-the-way to stick EKG cords all over my body so they know exactly what’s happening inside of me too. I have pharmacies demanding pregnancy tests (which is a federal law) before I can get a refill on my new medication. When you add-on all the questions from innocent bystanders all I am left with at this point is the thought of escape. The thought of just not knowing anyone, or anyone knowing me for just one minute.

I feel exposed. I feel naked. I feel like an experiment. I feel like I have no human rights sometimes, and that I am just a body that everyone keeps poking at. So, please excuse me when I don’t update. Please don’t mind when I’m quiet, when I don’t answer, or yes, when I close my measly fucking curtain door.


I’m That Difficult Patient.

Something very commonly overlooked when living with Pulmonary Hypertension is the meaning of “progression.” Or at least when it came to me, my brain has a tendency to forget this huge “one up” this rare disease has on us: progressive…it could always get worse.

When I finally became somewhat comfortable with my shitty lungs, and started writing about them I also adapted a very invincible type of mindset. I had my disease, but I felt like I also had control, something that we don’t have very often with Pulmonary Hypertension festering in our lungs. I ultimately had control over how long I wanted to live, IF I wanted to take my meds, and where exactly this disease could take me. It was great to be feeling “healthy”, to be positive, and to ride out the illusion that I somehow was in control of two of the most important organs in my body that already had a reputation for throwing us all curve-balls.


My newest specialist is someone who in my eyes is all about preventative care. Her biggest emphasis is something that I, and all my past doctors have repeatedly not watched; the fact that Pulmonary Hypertension is a progressive disease, and it could get worse. I, on the other hand am all about the “now”, and gettin’ it while you can as Janis would say. I’ve moved into a rougher environment (which I don’t, and will never regret!), blown off weeks worth of medications, done things that have negatively affected my body for a temporary high, and basically thought I could keep tucking my disease away for a later time. That’s what happens when you are technically still not accepting your disease – hint hint. After taking the guidwires out, shutting down the fluoroscopy machines, my new specialist informed me that it was a great thing we did a new cath after almost four years. My pressures have not changed after all this time, and my cardiac failure has gotten intensely worse. I may feel “alright” right now, but a year from now could be questionable. Which has now led us to three new medications that are going to feel very “intense” for a while until my body starts responding. Here I sit with my morning cup deciphering through my “now” type thinking versus a future that I’m not sure I want to even keep pushing for. Is it worth it? Or is it just doctors leading us on like a cat chasing a string; am I going to be paying a ridiculous amount of money, and living in pain to only be here another ten years?

Overall, it’s a shock once again to the system. It feels like we’ve re-winded back to when I was being told for the very first time that my heart, and lungs both were a problem. After years of writing about PH, I started running from it. I felt suffocated by what I was creating, and felt the need to tuck it away quietly. It has finally come back to find me, and it’s earth shattering, hopeless, and just unfair all over again.

Despite writing, contests, shirts, and everything else I have come to discover that never have I ever been fully okay with my disease, but will we ever really be?

New song of the week finallyyyyy.


Here We Go Again; Vlog

Vlogging all the way through Santa Fe and Albuquerque! Birthday celebrations went down in Santa Fe on the square which featured the St. Francis Chapel, and inside La Plazuela restaurant. Then we moved it over to ABQ where we shopped till we dropped (LUSH!!) then had to get down to business at University of New Mexico for all of my testing. Yes, I was frustrated because the hospital is super confusing to navigate. Anyways, if you have any questions please feel free to comment.


Seven Days in Sunny June; Vlog.

Hey loves! It’s been such a busy, and ridiculously hot month here in New Mexico. Tourists have invaded once again which keeps all of us super busy! When I’m not working my tail off, I’m usually making an hour drive for groceries, or hiking which has become a new hobby that I’ve started investing in. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. If you have any issues with the video, then please let me know!

How has everyone’s June been?!