Life With PH

Got Oxygen?

From day one, I was the patient that pretty much did everything they were told not to do. I gave my doctors almost more anxiety than I have, because I was so rebellious. However, I love my primary doctors, they are always very truthful with me, and I know when to be serious and actually listen. A good doctor is very hard to find. The doctor that finally listened, did my first heart cath, and diagnosed me was not a good doctor. I will always be grateful, he is great in the operating room, but he will not listen to you. He will tell you the worst, and hand you a plastic bubble to live in, which is what most have done. “You have maybe two years to live” are some of the first things he had said to me. From there on out it was “you have to be on this medication” “No you cannot do that” “You probably have a blood clot” yada yada yada. After comparing with two other doctors, I got pretty good at being a BS sorter, and fired him. He wanted me to not live a life, but just live under my diagnosis, and in his office with his rules.ย  While it’s important to listen to your doctors who know your situation, you have to be really good at not putting yourself inside of a medical prison.

I was very unhappy in my hometown; like addicted to Xanax and didn’t want to live anymore unhappy. I knew where I wanted to be, and I already could hear everyone’s opinions. “You won’t be able to breathe!” “You won’t be able to even live!” “The altitude is too high!”ย  Even then, this is the place that called to me. When I broke the news to my primary PH doctor who I love, I built up my defensive side ready to beg him to see the good side to where I was wanting to move. He said, “When you vacation up there, do you have trouble breathing? Will you have an O2 sat reader with you at all times? How far away are you from a hospital?” After answering all his questions, he said, “If that’s what you want.”ย  My mouth dropped. My doctor grasps the concept of my mental happiness.

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Yes, I live in 10, 350 feet elevation. No, I am not “barely living”, and yes I do get short of breath here and there. I get altitude headaches, and some days, walking around the town is just enough. But I am absolutely loving it! No, I’m not saying you should go live on the top of a mountain to love your life. What I am saying is that you should be doing what you love, despite what your crappy lungs think. Hazel Grace still flew to Amsterdam with Augustus despite her doctors yelling about it. Do not let your crappy lungs be an anchor within your body.

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Moving here was no more rebellious than what I was doing everyday in my hometown. Five years ago they said I wouldn’t live another two…so I guess I’m just not quite inside the lines of what a PH patient should be in their eyes. I’m very grateful for my doctors, and their support in my new life! Sooo, my loves, if you follow me on Instagram you saw that I am giving away a water bottle (pictured above) from my store! I think it’s perfect for PH patients with the little phrase “Got Oxygen?” on it. Whoever wins this bottle, I don’t want you to think about the risky altitude, but the mountains in your life, the challenges, the new risks to overcome, and of course maybe starting a new life. Plus, it’s really freaking cute. If you want a chance to win this super cute bottle then follow the directions below:

Follow me on Instagram @haleyann92

Follow my store! ๐Ÿ™‚ @mainstreetmercantileredriver

Then shoot me a DM on Instagram (or email haley.ann.92@gmail.com) saying you followed both, so I know to look for you!!

I will pick from who follows both, and the winner will be announced Monday July 27!! Have fun lovelies. ๐Ÿ™‚ Song of the week is Colour My World by Chicago.

-haley.

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Life With PH, Personal Life

Exit Here.

I’ve had some people contacting me over a subject that seems to scare them in this scary time of year; I am no longer PH centered. I know, its shocking to you, but it’s not to me. I think no longer just focusing on PH has given me a breath of fresh air into other subjects that have consumed my heart.

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You see, I’ve been passionately writing since I was in the fourth grade. I remember the exact day that the lesson “clicked” and this writing thing became easy. I was scoring Fours (four being the highest in Texas) while everyone was struggling to make it halfway down their little notebook pages. My thoughts have flowed onto a paper naturally, and I’ve enjoyed it. I stopped writing around sixteen. I have no idea why, but really I had nothing interesting in my life, in fact I was sleeping most of the day. After I was diagnosed, Pulmonary Hypertension gave me an angry and emotional trigger, and just like a bullet, I fired. All of my thoughts from years of silence flowed out onto this blog. I can’t believe I gained an audience, and I am forever grateful for my PH family, the conference, the wonderful thank you letters, and my award sitting at the front of my room.

My PH writing itch has mostly been scratched. There will always be more to cover as new challenges approach, but I have other things on my mind. I am an activist at heart. I don’t want to be the ugly, screaming activist, but I do believe in justice and broadcasting the truth that people mostly miss. That simple statement has a lot of you upset. Some have contacted me asking why I’m not writing, some of y’all refuse to support and voice your opinions on such, and while I respect that I can’t understand that. I cannot live and breathe PH daily because PH is a disease that does not believe in giving “breaths.” I have nothing against my disease, or my PH lovelies, I just don’t feel a desire anymore. I am currently at peace with my disease, but not other subjects that come to mind. I want this page to be something you can come to reflect on for new articles, or search old PH issues that I might have covered in the past. But lets just get one thing across about Haley Ann; I am not a people pleaser. People pleasing is one of the weakest things others can succumb themselves to. You simply cannot please everyone, so what is the point of trying? Please yourself, and do what is right.

So I hope that with all this being said, you can support the blog after the PH years that hopefully it supported you in. There are stages in a disease process, and all are different just like the patients themselves. I am merely exiting one phase, and transforming into another. Thank you (hopefully) for your understanding.

-haley.

Song of the week is “You Sent me Flying/Cherry” by the lovely Amy Winehouse.

Life With PH, Personal Life, PH Health

Internal Explosives.

Life is full of so many demons. Some we encounter, and others live inside of us which sounds like an episode of American Horror Story. Its been really hard to stay focused lately, to slow down, or to do anything productive other than my full time job. Why? Because I am the literal demon in this situation.

Anxiety was never a thing I took seriously, in fact, I didn’t even know it was a diagnosis. But as I sat across from a Doctor, and described my daily routine and thoughts attached, he diagnosed me with severe long-term anxiety. What? But as a flip back through family memories and pictures, certain moments come to mind. The thought of even rain sent me into a crying fit, throwing up before performances, feeling sick whenever I had to leave my dad, and having to have someone at the house with me all the time. As we get older, its not just storms but people, certain songs, walking around the house a certain amount of times before I know I can leave it, and all of this just adds up to be little emotional triggers; triggers that launch a explosive anxiety bomb in my brain.

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Whats it like to have anxiety? Its like seeing something that bothers you, and replaying that situation over and over again in your mind, thinking about all the horrible outcomes and what could happen, and either acting on that stress and venting to someone only to annoy them, or choosing to live with that sickening feeling. Its like laying in bed awake at night because you know the rare disease you have causes blood clots, and your worst fear is to die in your sleep, and you just know that even right now one could pass through your heart or brain and kill you instantly. So, you decide to stay awake. Its like worrying about your family’s safety because they didn’t answer the phone, you think you left the coffee pot on, and you cant focus at work because you just know you will come home to a house that was burnt to the ground. Anxiety takes away my peace of mind, my will to do things, it wants to me stay at home where I’m comfortable and not have to deal with anything that could trigger anything else. Yes, thats how bad its escalated. Dealing with people that have anxiety, I could only imagine is not fun. But your actions unfortuntely play into theirs. We need you as support, and a calming ressurance, not someone who makes us feel crazy. You doing that could actually make us crazy. What exactly do we need from you?

Understanding. You may not get how our brain works, but its locked up in our body. We don’t appreciate how it works, and you definitely don’t, but we need you to be that relaxed force for just that moment.

Genuine Concern. When you tell me to calm down, you’ve just evoked the powers of an anxiety hurricane. You made me feel stupid, out of control, over-exaggerated, and you’ve just triggered every other emotion along with that too. I know you do want us to calm down, and we do too. Think that all you want, but talk to us. Why are you feeling this way? What can I do to help? Lets take a couple breaths, and talk about this. Now that makes all the difference.

Don’t make fun of it. Its a serious problem, and I wish my brain didn’t function this way, but it does. It has since day one, and making me feel stupid and crazy doesn’t help. In fact, it makes me distance myself from you, and it makes me hate me. I’d rather overdose on anxiety pills than deal with this feeling. You merely get to hear about how my brain works, you don’t actually feel the internal thoughts. Its exhausting.

So this loves, has been a huge hindering factor on my life right now. One that I’m trying to control, but as stated before, its exhausting. Its no surprise that anyone who might’ve been diagnosed with something would have anxiety. If you feel like you do, then please talk to your primary, and a therapist. We already live with a chronic fatigue, so why add to that? Free yourself.

-haley.

Life With PH

Hollywood is Still Hollywood, and I Am Still Sick.

Being a sick young adult in this world is not straightforward path. It’s a winding road full of surgeries, painful treatment, people who might not believe you, and even companies demanding money for saving your life and threatening to not save it anymore. With that being said, anyone who isn’t sick will not understand the sick. How could they?

The first thing I say when someone is experiencing a situation that I have never personally dealt with is, “I really don’t understand what you are going through, but I am here.” Why? Because it’s the truth. I think it’s a high form of ignorance to try to relate understanding when we really do not understand. How can we be understanding when we’ve never stepped into that world, we’ve only had a slight view of it? It’s completely different to see something, then experience it. You can watch someone chug vodka yet remain sober, but its different when you are the one chugging it too.

Lately I’ve spent some time reading very well written articles about how this is the year that social media is portraying “sick kids” and how it’s in style. Often I catch myself thinking, “no this isn’t a movie prop” when I walk around in public with my cannula up my nose. I definitely feel the anger as movies like The Fault in Our Stars rise to fame, and people become obsessed yet fail to realize that these sick kids are real, not just lovely on-screen actors. I’ve felt that ridiculous anger, believe me. These articles go so far as to say, and quote:

“But teenagers with illnesses do exist. I am one of them, and it hurts to see movies and television glamorize our suffering.”ย  –Lillie Lainoff at Yale University

But amongst this rage, I had a lovely realization that is much easier to deal with than that annoying anger which I have every right to feel.

When I noticed the white and black clouds of a bright blue book at Hastings, it succeeded in triggering me to read the back. I didn’t have seventeen dollars at the time (I know, ridiculous) but I ran back into the store on payday, and immediately made it mine. The minute I read about Hazel’s cannula I laughed and screamed. I was hooked, which is an understatement, just like all of America. I wasn’t enthralled because Augustus is “so cute”, or Amsterdam is romantic, but I was enthralled to read that someone could describe my feelings on paper. It was refreshing to read of an illness which you think I would be sick of; pun intended.

I can’t say for other TV shows, or movies, but I’d like to think that The Fault in Our Stars was anything but glamorous. So many people, including myself, described it as emotional death. Yes, it needed a little glamor because it was in fact a movie, and it was nice to experience butterflies for just a bit before impending death. I think what I love about John Green is not only his intelligence, but how realistic he is. His writing is real, and TFiOS is raw. John Green was a chaplain in a children’s hospital which inspired TFiOS. As John Green has stated a long these lines in an interview, “What struck me about these kids was the fact that they weren’t always smiling, they had no amazing wisdom just because they have cancer like everyone thinks, but they were just kids who happened to be sick.” Exactly. As I saw Augustus’s missing leg, Hazel’s hospital visit, her rapid breathing, a shitty author with a twisted view of sick children, and the raw yet horrifying scene of Augustus throwing up and screaming that he “hates himself” days before his untimely death was not glamorous. A lot of people actually hate TFiOS because it wasn’t perfect. But those scenes, as many tears as they provoked, and as much my heart hurt, I smiled. Those feelings were so real; those scenes were amazing. I hate myself when I have to sit down because my body is failing me, and everyone else gets to do what they want yet I am once again reminded of my own fault.

The fault in people saying “Hollywood has it wrong, and is glamorizing my illness” is that they are looking to people for understanding where understanding is not due. Stop getting mad because you are searching for understanding which is beyond unrealistic, just like this show titled, “Red Band Society.” That show may be unrealistic, which from my research it does in fact sound like a shitty portray of disease, but I think its lovely John Green wrote this real book, inspired by real kids, and it ended very real. Dont attack TFiOS. He wasn’t looking for people to understand, or glamor, he just created a lovely work of art. I personally experienced a version of that story, but I know that a lot of people who saw that did not, and they probably never will. They wanted Augustus to live, and hated Hazel’s walls that she built around herself, but I have a version of those walls, and I accepted Augustus’s death. It still sucked though.

So yes, I am aware of the anger of feeling like my oxygen is a movie prop, and the possessive thoughts of feeling like TFiOS is “all mine” and that these teen girls are clueless. But I catch myself in remembrance that I am expecting understanding where it is not due. Those kids will not understand my story, they weren’t meant to, and they can’t help it. They can only see my story, and respect it. So appreciate this art, The Fault in Our Stars, rather than bashing it. Because when they buried Augustus Waters, and Isaac couldn’t even see that because he just had his one eye he had left removed, I felt anything but glamorous. I smiled though, because I knew that I was a rare person who has cried those tears, and had those exact thoughts. I understood, I felt it was meant for me, and it was beautiful.

faultinourstars

-haley.

Instagram @haleyann92

Personal Life

Ch-Ch-Ch- Ch-Changes.

I’ve pretty much diagnosed myself with the worst case of writers block ever. I’m not feeling inspiration, a drive, or anything else currently but to instead focus on my book. I really don’t want my blog to suffer (it’s what propelled me into writing) so I am attempting to keep my head above water with all of this. With that being said, some serious changes are coming to the blog.

It’s not just about PH anymore. This topic is what started the blog on issues that everyone overlooks with a disease, from fashion to tattoo’s, doctor appointments, and what not, but now its evolved. As I continue through my daily life, I realize how much more I would like to write about other things. Education, my heritage, other issues that need the spotlight of activism, and even little things like my room and pill bottle organization. YES! It will be synergy between my serious writing, and thoughts, to little daily things that help us progress. I think that, overall, is what I need and what people will enjoy more. I hope these changes are more enjoyable to my readers, and also help me find my inspiration a little better. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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With that being said, now we can focus on the book. YES! A Haley Ann book is in the making. However, it’s a young adult fiction book. I will start releasing certain quotes on posts WITH a poll, and you can vote (anonymously) if you liked it! While talking with Colleen Brunetti a couple of weeks ago who is in the process of writing her own book, and it’s already successful, I told her whats stopping me is talking about the book itself. I really don’t want to hype up the book if it’s not worth hyping up, which is why I need your help. You get to be the editor, and audience. So please take time to read, and vote!

Now to wrap up everything, song of the week is The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin because I needed a little classic rock to remind me of song good times with family. What a beautiful piece. I hope you continue to have a lovely week! The next post? Haley’s Room. Prepare thyself.

-haley.

Life With PH

Two Years!

Happy Monday my loves!

I am trying to get inspired, but right now I’m enjoying some quiet time with Rocco Ricardo to reflect on art, read, and edit my book. Whenever I feel the need to write, I will definitely make a post, and try to this week. In the meantime, thank you to all of you who have made this blog possible. Without your support, curiosity, love, and eyeballs to read this text it would be pointless. So thank you again. Song of the Week will be I only Have Eyes for You by the Flamingo’s. Its very much the ending of summer, and all I can think about is that American Graffiti feeling. What a fantastic song to close with. In the meantime…

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-haley.

 

Life With PH, PH Health

Too Much Pressure.

Hello August! I feel like I’ve made it over a crazy couple months of non-stop on-the-go Haley, and now things are slowing down. More writing, more calm, and more happiness. ๐Ÿ™‚

I finally had a two month PH checkup, in which everything is ok except for a high heart rate out of no where, and I’m being referred to a new specialist that is closer rather than going to Houston. Also, I met a new primary doctor to handle all other issues who blew me away with not only his looks (hehe), but him thanking me for choosing him, and taking almost an hour examining me from head to toe to establish me as a new patient. He was very precise, and already knew Pulmonary Hypertension inside-out, and was quite interested that I had it. A PH patient’s whole world is full of pressure. The word hypertension literally means high pressure, high pressure in the lungs, high pressure in the heart, and I also found out that the pressure in my eyes is even high. When my new primary said, “I think we need to check your kidney’s for high pressure” I through my hands in the air with the response, “if there is anything that could ever have a pressure in my body it is high.” He laughed, but I was not as amused.

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You see, with all this “pressure” existing within my body, it makes it extremely hard to deal with outside pressure from other unnecessary things and people. Someone said to me to other day, or more yelled, “I know you’re done” and that struck an angry chord. I walk around everyday breathing twice as much as you, with twice the pain, and other everyday issues (like almost passing out from just bending over) and I’m just tired. Why? Because I have a disease that just so happens to have a side effect of chronic fatigue. When everything in my body is built up to functioning on a high level with outside demands, my body sure does reflect “done.” Emotionally, and really, I’m trying not to be done, but my lungs really want to fold themselves in half. Sometimes people really do not comprehend the realities of this disease…but your lungs and heart are a big part of why you are able to read this. When they don’t work right, despite how fine you may look, you really aren’t. People think I’m lazy, people think I exaggerate, but one of my PH friends who is my age (and shares my name) just received a double lung and heart transplant. While being prepped in the hospital she looked damn fine, because it’s an invisible disease. Appearances are deceiving.

Overall, you as a patient, or even just a caregiver, or person will have a lot of pressure throughout life. When its unnecessary, get rid of it, and embrace what truly matters. I’d rather my heart be overjoyed than overworked.

Song of this week! Houdini by Foster the People. Its fun, and perfect right now. Enjoy this week which is the start of a new month!

-haley.

Life With PH, Personal Life, PH Fashion, PH Health

Thank Y’all.

Finally, I am home. I have nothing left but exhaustion, and happiness. This was such a perfect trip! I wanted to thank my readers, and the PH Association for making it possible. This was an absolute highlight of my life. Most of you followed on Facebook, and Instagram, and thank you for that! I am so glad you got to see the events unfold online. To those who I finally met in person, that was such an uplifting experience. As most of you know, I was nominated for the Young PHA’s Outstanding Citizen Award which still baffles me. I watched so many other PH’ers get on stage to accept their awards, only to hear about all the amazing things they’ve done. They are some PHenomenal people doing PHenomenal things! It was hardcore proof of the importance of connecting with other people who are affected by the same disease as you. Get involved! It will change things. Congrats to all of those who accepted an award, got to attend conference, had an amazing time, branched out, and learned. Everyone has done amazing job in the PH community.

As I’m coming up on my fourth year anniversary of being diagnosed, I’m reflecting heavily on my original feelings towards this disease. How absent I was, blank, unresponsive, and I possessed not an ounce of fight. When you are diagnosed with anything it’s really starting a challenge of overcoming yourself. That sounds easy; you know you better than anyone else. Except, most people leave out one huge detail about a diagnosis. You are no longer you anymore. From day one, you are wearing a completely new skin, adapting to what feels like a completely new body, treatments, a new circle of people (or survivors) and everything you thought you once knew about yourself is dust. Well, some of it. Now you will be tested on your mental, and emotional strength, how far will you go to physically overcome, and to one day make it to an infinitive finish line called “survivor.” Overcoming yourself is not easy; it’s the hardest thing you will go through. In the meantime remember, that mental dominates physical. If you can understand, comprehend, and get a handle on this mentally…your body will catch up. Mind over matter. I had to dominate my own self, swallow pride, not listen to certain thoughts, cut certain people out, let doctors in, and really figure out what it is I exactly needed. It really is possible to pull yourself out of that dark place. The only thing keeping you down is you. Look at yourself and heavily evaluate what is going on, and what needs to be changed. It took almost four years exactly to get somewhat on the right track. You will fall off every now and then, or take a wrong turn. I struggle mentally, emotionally, and physically. This is a lifetime disease, and until we can get that cure, it will be a lifetime battle. Find the will to live, and hold onto it. There is beauty in this struggle. Who knew I would get to wear glitzy shoes, and accept a ridiculously heavy glass award, meet fans, take pictures, stay in a four star hotel, have people ask me questions, and have my face and story all over the world because of PH? Quite frankly, I’m thankful.

Train your mind to see the good. Mind over matter. Thank you to everyone for showing me the good side of PH! Its been a trip. Pictures are below! Thank y’all again.

-haley.

Instagram! @haleyann92

Facebook.com/phenomenalhaley

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Life With PH, Personal Life

Onward!!

Holy cow! It’s finally here; Conference week. I’m heading off to Indianapolis in about seven hours (its almost midnight)….and I need to pack. I know, how shameful. Rocco is feeling anxious, and its making me sad to leave him, yet anxious as well. Most of you know I was nominated, and won The Pulmonary Hypertension Association’s Outstanding Young Adult award for 2014. I am extremely grateful, and proud. I know we are always talking about how much this disease sucks, but really, I want to thank my disease for what it has done to me. Its given me a privilege to dig way deeper into myself than I would have ever done before, to find out who I truly am, its taught me what it means to survive, how fragile life is, and to conquer. I am thankful for my shitty lungs.

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Sooo, since I will be on the road (and worrying about Rocco 24/7) I don’t want to leave everyone out of the experience! I will be vlogging the whole time. Vlogging? Yes, vlogging. I guess I will take a Claire Marshall whack at this, and see what y’all think! I can’t wait for everyone to see the experiences (including Funky Bones park from TFiOS), and until I can upload it all you can follow me on my social media sites!

Song of the week is Boom Clap from the TFiOS soundtrack because this is the song they played while Hazel and Gus arrived at their destination in Amsterdam. Such an exciting song! Find, and follow me to keep up with this week! Have a lovely day everyone!

-haley.

Instagram @haleyann92

Facebook.com/phenomenalhaley

Life With PH, PH Health

O2 and Iphones. What?

So, the other day (by the other day I mean like two months ago) I found myself experiencing some chest pain, and I just knew my oxygen was low. I found my little O2 sat machine, and of course it stopped working. We’ve attempted to revive the damn thing several times, but it flat lined a while ago. So, I settled on taking my blood pressure, but as anyone would know that still isn’t the same as knowing where your oxygen is. What to do…

I turned to my phone of course. Why not? I ask the damn thing questions, it has to be able to know something! Sure enough when searching the app store I found the perfect something. Its called the “Oximeter” app by DigiDoc. With that being said, this is an app on your phone. NOT a thousand dollar machine that ensures accuracy for the safety of the patient. This is an app, on whoever’s iPhone that downloads it. If you one hundred percent depend on this thing, then it’s probably not a good idea. You really have to get a feel for it, as well as its faults and quirks to know your true health, and know if you are at risk.

How is it measuring my O2, and heart rate? You take your fingertip and cover not only your flash, but your camera. It takes a couple of seconds if you are super still, and after its finished, it records your results. So it’s always nice to have a record of how you’ve been to show your doctor. Now, Accuracy. I’ve noticed when my oxygen is low the app freaks out. If it is below a reading of ninety percent, it will just saw low rather than how low. That kind of bugs me. But, at least I know its below ninety. Usually if I’m feeling not-great, and it reads something like “96” or “94” I know it probably means 92ish. Overall, I take in to count how I’m feeling, breathing, heart rate, BP, THEN that number.

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I think this is a fabulous app to have just in case, but should not be your only source. For right now its mine because I’m not a huge risk. But when traveling, and bringing your machines isn’t always an option, this little app should be. For $2.99, I think it’s a great “back up” investment.

Happy Throwback Thursday everyone! This is absolutely my favorite “Picture day!” Anyone knows by now that Instagram is my favorite app because I love pictures. Here is my throwback pic! This was taken at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. My brother was getting back on the Kwahadi Bus (Native Pride!), and we were telling him bye. I’m sure Dad was helping load the bus. Pictured from Left to Right: My Grandpa, John, Mom holding Holley, then meeee. Enjoy today!

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-haley.

Instagram @haleyann92

Facebook.com/phenomenalhaley