‘Before my PH story began, I never knew what it meant to look forward to each day, to enjoy each experience to the fullest and to love with all my heart.’

Wendy McBride, of Statesboro, Georgia, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English and wants to become a writer. She lives near her sons Connor and Brannen and has a “spoiled rotten” American Staffordshire Terrier named Sissy.

By Wendy McBride

In January 2020, I had a growing career in logistics, a 401(k) and a path toward stability that would’ve made an accountant proud. My two grown sons were successful and beginning their own lives.

One month later, my life changed. I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The best-case scenario was an expiration date of five years. I was 45 years old.

I learned that my condition was accompanied by massive congestive heart failure and was end-stage symptomatic. PAH extinguished my career and damaged my social and support network. People who didn’t want to understand vanished from my life, and I pushed away those who loved me enough to try.

After a month in the intensive care unit, I was sitting in my living room attached to a central line and more medicine than a Pfizer gift bag. I could choose to live or die. I chose to live.

A week after I came home from the hospital, I walked around my cul-de-sac. I felt like a fish out of water, but every day I tried to go a little farther. I found that healthful eating with low amounts of sodium and moderate exercise have helped. If I can do it, anybody can.

My life changed for the better. I learned to cope with my condition through diet, exercise and a quit-feeling-sorry-for-yourself attitude. This led me to uncover a strength I never knew I had.

I discovered I was four classes short of the English degree I had abandoned to raise my two beautiful sons. So I decided to begin my path to represent the PH community. It’s more than a duty; it’s an obligation to fight, use my gift of gab and share my story to represent this small but driven community until we find a cure. I will set an example by placing my health first and finishing my degree.

Now I say that PH was the best thing that ever happened to me.

My goal is to spread the word of survival. I want to encourage others to eat healthfully, and I want them to know that it’s OK to exercise a little. A diagnosis like PH doesn’t have to end your life.

Before my PH story began, I never knew what it meant to look forward to each day, to enjoy each experience to the fullest and to love with all my heart.

My sons are my motivation, my strength and the two most amazing men in my life. They need to know that their mother is a fighter and that this diagnosis became a part of our family for a reason. I look forward to sharing my story each year and to motivate newly diagnosed and long-term patients with this condition.

Inspire and give hope to the PH community by sharing your experience with PH. Submit your story here, and read more stories from PHA’s Right Heart Blog