“I want others with PH to know, whether you are young or older, no matter what life puts in front of you, you are worth it and just keep fighting because PH will not beat you.”

I am Anna Lindner, and I am 17 years old. I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH) on July 31, 2009, when I was six years old. I noticed I could not walk long nor short distances without getting out of breath or passing out. My family figured I was dehydrated because it was the summer, and I was in an outdoor camp. However, one night I was sitting outside with my mom, and I walked toward the door to go inside to let my dogs out. As I opened the door, I felt myself get limp and fall to the ground. My vision got dark, my head hit the floor and I could hear my mom call out for my dad.

When I regained consciousness, I was on the couch, and my family was sitting next to me. My parents gave me water, a bath, then tucked me in for bed. My parents took me to my pediatrician, who insisted nothing was wrong with me after my mom forced them to perform an electrocardiogram (EKG) on me. My grandpa, a retired doctor, told my parents to send the results to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Call after call we finally reached them, and they told my family to come in immediately. From then on, my life completely changed. I had to stop gymnastics and soccer. I watched my parents struggle with the diagnosis just as much as I did. They sacrificed so much for me. My sister, who is three years older than me, sacrificed her time and attention as a kid to be a supportive daughter, sister and friend to me.

I returned to school, first grade, that August with many accommodations such as sitting by the fan, longer bathroom breaks due to medicine side effects, taking breaks and most importantly, no kickball! I was then released into the cruel world of bullying. I was different from the other kids. They did not have the limitations I did. I became introverted and stuck in my own head. I began to question why I got this disease. I do not wish this disease upon anyone, but why me? I could not play soccer like every other kid; I could not be in the heat for too long, I could not run, and I mostly, I could not accept it. I developed generalized anxiety, panic disorder and depression a few years later.

After many years of dealing with the negative results of PH, I learned the answer to my question. I am more understanding, passionate and expressive with everything or anyone I come across. I forgave the ones who bullied me throughout elementary, middle and junior high school. I find more reasons every day to be thankful for my PH even though the situation is not ideal. I have been riding horses for about four years now, and I had a beautiful Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii. I have met so many amazing doctors and people in the field. My experience with PH has taught me so much, and it continues to teach me every day.

I want others with PH to know, whether you are young or older, no matter what life puts in front of you, you are worth it and just keep fighting because PH will not beat you. You will always have me and other PH patients to support you. You are not alone, and as time goes on, you will feel better! If you are a friend to someone who has PH, please make them feel like they are enough, and they are loved. We cannot always do the things we think or wish we could do, but we try, and we hope you can understand!

I thank my friends and family for supporting me and sticking by my side through all the hardships. I hope this story can give you some inspiration! Thank you for taking the time to read my story!