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Patient story

Karima Neal

My name is Karima Neal. I am 28 yrs old and I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension in March, 2007. I was in the United States Air Force at the time. I first started having symptoms at the end of February, 2007. My family and I had just come home from Christmas vacation. I was just as normal and healthy getting back as I was when I left for the trip. My family and I were preparing to leave and reside in Naples, Italy, where we were going to live next.

It was about the middle of February when I started having shortness of breath and feeling light headed. My blood pressure was through the roof. I've never had anything happen to me like this before. I went to the doctor and he told me that I had anxiety and asthma, but he gave me a referral to a hospital, just to make sure. I got to the hospital, which was almost three hours away, and my oxygen saturations were in the low 70's by the time I got to the doctor’s office. I remember having to stop from the parking lot a few times before reaching the door.

As soon as the pulmonologist saw me, he knew something was wrong. They did some tests to see if it was asthma, and they quickly came to the conclusion that it was not. I was relieved! That was, until they admitted me to the hospital. Mind you, I was perfectly healthy. I had never been hospitalized, other than having my son, and I had no complications.

I was in the hospital for almost thirty days before they told me what was wrong. At one point during that time I was told that my condition was so severe that I would have only survived six months to a year without going to the hospital. I am too strong of a woman to accept that. I came in to the hospital one way and came out with all sorts of medicines, oxygen and injections that I had to give myself. It was horrible!

Now, in the end of 2008, I am still here, alive and kicking. I tell you I am a strong cookie! Next week they are going start me on Remodulin and hopefully that will make me feel a little better. I am so fortunate to have friends and family in my life that care so much. They are the ones that keep me lifted each and every day. It is just not my time yet. I have too much to live for.

 

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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.