Bridget’s story

Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Despite living with four lung conditions, including Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH), Bridget is a bubbly and positive young woman who tries to always look on the bright side of life. It’s the life-long friendships made with others living with PAH, the love and support of her family and the motivation of her role models that encourage and inspire Bridget to live her best life. 

This is her story. 

My name is Bridget, I am 25 years old and I live in Narangba, Queensland with a friend. We both recently moved into Specialised Disability Accommodation. My Assistance Dog Lily also moved with me. I have four lung conditions: Kartagener Syndrome, Bronchiectasis, Reactive Small Airways Disease and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). 

I was diagnosed with Kartagener Syndrome at 3 months old. It is a genetic disorder which I had to deal with a lot growing up, as I got bullied in school for having a runny nose. 

The journey to my diagnosis of PAH was six months after I first started getting severe symptoms but because of Kartagener Syndrome the doctors thought it was that causing the breathlessness, or I was a bit unfit.  

I was eventually diagnosed at 16 with PAH. I did not understand the diagnosis and what it meant for me. I just thought I would have to deal with another medical condition. I was so angry at one stage I pushed a chair against a wall. I was scared because I did not know what was happening. When I was diagnosed mum wanted to find out more information and she was very sad because she told me I could not have kids and that made cry. 

My treatment has changed a little bit throughout my eight-year fight. When my treatment started, I was on a smaller dose of three different medications, this has since increased to larger dosages and more medication. Along with a long list of daily medication, I also deal with pain and daily symptoms. Some of the side effects of the medications are weight gain, nausea and vomiting, pain and feeling and looking flushed. Treatment and medication has had an impact on my life because I need to think of where am I going and do I need to take my medication with me because I will be out when medication is due.  I need to know if places have toilets because of the effect of diuretics 

I also must do physio twice daily to get the mucus out of my lungs because it doesn’t move otherwise. I cannot walk long distances on the flat and I cannot walk upstairs or inclines because I become very short of breath and become cyanotic. I am unable to work because of the impact of the symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension. 

There are positives. My condition is being managed with the medication, if not my prognosis would have been two years. My parents and I are closer. I have met some life-long friends with PAH. My advice to someone who is newly diagnosed with PAH is to take it one day at a time. Manage symptoms with medications. Everyone with PAH is different so do not compare yourself to someone else. 

My motto is Keep Phighting, every day is a new day. 

I have been inspired by Turia Pitt because she keeps going in the face of adversity and never gives up. Kylie Corkery because she keeps going raises two children even though she has Pulmonary Hypertension. My mum because she does everything to help me. Tries to do everything herself.