‘Seeing the decrease in pressure gives me hope that I can continue my life with my PAH.’

Uraiwan Campbell, 52, lives in Maricopa, Arizona, with her boyfriend, Alan, 66, and Rottweiler-pitbull mix Jake. Uraiwan has two adult sons, Scottie, 27, and Matt, 23, who live an hour away. She enjoys socializing with friends, reading and completing puzzles. Uraiwan previously worked as an office manager for the city of Tempe, Arizona, and was co-owner of a towing business.

By Uraiwan Campbell
In November 2021, I helped my friend pack to move out of state. While packing, I noticed I had to rest often due to shortness of breath. I blew it off and figured it was seasonal allergies. Once I was done packing, my breathing would return to normal.

In the same month, I began falling asleep while driving. Twice, I was on the highway but avoided accidents. Although I had never fallen asleep at the wheel before, I didn’t connect it to my shortness of breath.

Around the same time, I took my dog Jake on a walk and fell after he began chasing another dog. After the fall, I had some minor cuts and a large scratch on my right calf. I tended to my wounds and thought nothing of it.

Later, I noticed my right leg would swell but return to normal in a few hours. I thought the wound might be infected, so I applied Neosporin. The swelling continued for a few months. In February 2022, I told myself that if my leg wasn’t better by mid-month, I would schedule an appointment with my doctor.

On Feb. 15, I woke up to swollen legs and fluid seeping from my right leg. I scheduled a telehealth appointment with my primary care doctor. The physician’s assistant told me to immediately go to urgent care for labs and other tests.

When I got to urgent care, I was told to go to the emergency room. I was admitted to Banner Hospital in Casa Grande, Arizona, for four days. After running a few tests, the doctors said I might have something called pulmonary hypertension (PH). The tests showed that my lung pressure was 91%.

I had no clue what was going on. I came in because I thought my leg was infected. But the swelling wasn’t related to my scratch. I learned the swelling was fluid retention related to the issue with my heart and lungs: PH. The edema prevented the wound from my months-ago fall from healing properly.

I was transferred to a larger hospital for a right heart catheterization to confirm my PH. On Feb. 20, I was officially diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

After my diagnosis, I began seeing Nafis Shamsid-Deen, M.D., at Banner Lung Institute in Phoenix to manage my PAH. Dr. Shamsid-Deen said my PAH was probably functional class 1 idiopathic, toxin-related PAH. I took phentermine for several years to lose weight, as well as smoked cigarettes. Both could have contributed to my PAH.

In December 2022, a second right heart catheterization showed my lung pressure was decreasing. The decrease gives me hope that I can continue life with PAH. Since my diagnosis, my hobbies have changed. Now, I enjoy researching PAH and finding delicious recipes that fit into my low sodium lifestyle.

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