2017 A Year’s Review…

Living On O2 for Life

Life during 2017 sure has been interesting. K and I have found ourselves confronted with many challenges that mostly were unexpected, which usually is the case for us. However, there were a LOT of good, fun, adventurous times throughout the year for us too. Thank goodness… because we really needed them.

January 2017 started with a visit from BOTH of my sisters at the same time! It was shockingly fabulous because it’s difficult for the both of them to have the same time off with their work schedule and then they’d have to drive down to see me now. I don’t travel well anymore and they are starting to understand that a little better now. It’s one thing for them to know their sister’s health is declining but it’s another thing to actually see it first hand. January brought the gift that I’d been waiting for… Christmas cookies made by my older sister and frosted by me and my sister and decorated (little kid style) by my very adorable niece.

February 2017 brought all kinds of exciting fun planning of my vegetable garden. We tried growing new things this year, like broccoli, squash, and tomatoes. I tried to keep up with the garden but with my health and the Texas heat, it started to get me way too tired just trying to keep it watered. A couple of times, K would tell me to just go inside because he would see me struggling with my breathing. So, he took over the garden for me. He’s my hero!

If you haven’t ever grown your own vegetables, it’s a sight to see and it’s actually very therapeutic. No, really… I swear! In March, the potatoes and our two tomato plants were growing like crazy due to amount of rain we’d keep having! Yay!!

In March, K and I were shopping in Home Depot and my liquid oxygen tank flew out of the cart and landed on the cement. What a scene that was! K was so worried about me but I handled it amazingly well after I realized it still put out oxygen. Whew, right? By the end of March, I was harvesting my first strawberries! Yummy! In fact, K was so interested in my strawberries that he filled two hanging baskets with strawberry plants to grow some of his own. Wow. I’m slowly turning him into a farmer! haha!

In April, K’s Aunts and Uncles came down to visit but stayed with his mom and his aunt here in town. By May, I had a lot of tomatoes I didn’t know what to do with them. I mean, we could only eat so many slices of tomatoes on sandwiches and for salads. So, I looked up on Pinterest how to make homemade tomato sauce. The process was tedious and it felt like it took forever but it sure was a success. I even had to call my mom for advice.

I didn’t get to go to my niece’s recital or birthday party because I can’t drive myself that far alone anymore. It just wears me out being the driver for that long. In between the missed trip to my sister, to the time I got to go see them later in the year, K and I went to 2 concerts. We saw U2 and then we saw Roger Waters (think Pink Floyd). Those concerts were a gift from me to K for his birthday and Christmas of last year. We used my wheelchair and I a bought a cup holder that I could attach to the arm of my wheelchair from Amazon. It was SO handy.. so convenient and affordable! Yay.. we all love affordable, right? Going to the concerts with K reminded me of the old days of dating K. We had a good time dancing, singing and acting goofy back then as we did for these two concerts.

In August, my older sister road the train to my city and drove me in my van to her house. I stayed with her for 10 days and then she drove me home and caught the train home. How sweet was that??? I know, right? I have to admit that I missed K something fierce. After I got home and rested up, K and I went on an adventure to South Padre Island for our 25th anniversary. We hit every art gallery and tried various restaurants and did all kinds of fun things. It was a great 10 days but on the way home, the front grill of my van flew off and went over the top of the van. I’m just thankful that it wasn’t me driving because it sure was scary. We didn’t see where it landed and thankfully no one was behind us. I knew we should have taken Klondike, my rubber chicken (road trip mascot). We got an estimate to replace the grill but it was an outrageous price. K and I had an idea but we didn’t realize that we were both thinking the same thing until we started talking about Plan B. We’d the grill replacement part on Amazon, order it, and K thought he could put it on the van himself. So that’s what we did for so much less! I’m so impressed with K’s skills! Though, he’s not much of a car guy but he can fix simple things. My MacGyver, he was! *wink*

From October up to now has been rough, K has had a lot of trouble with his eyes that scared the ever-lovin’ bejeebers out of us. He’s had to have 2 surgeries and I needed to take care of him while he recovered. It reminded me of just how much he actually does for me with my health needs and all done willingly and without complaint. I’m so lucky. I have to mention that he’s got some great ophthalmologists. One of them has the most awesome waiting room filled with jigsaw puzzles that anyone can work on and even a blanket rack that has CROCHETED afghans! *shock* Wow! K said his doctor wanted to meet me. Apparently, K had been telling him about me and the doctor has a daughter with scoliosis like me. So, without giving names, I’d like to give a shoutout to her! “HEY! If you are reading this, here’s a big hello to you and hoping that you are doing well.” *hugs*

Christmas was great! I got to help K decorate the house with new creative ideas this year. We try to add new ideas every year to the decorations! This year we added 5 wreaths we decorated together, 3 hung in our family room windows and one for two large mirrors we have. I had to go at a really slow pace hanging Christmas bulbs, wrapping ribbon around trees, and creating my 3 wreath masterpieces but we got it all done in about 5 days. Hooray! And now it’s January 2018. We’re ready for a better year. *fingers crossed* We’re already planning some exciting things to look forward to which is how we stay optimistic during the tough times.

You can see the pictures I take if you look in the right column of this blog under the Instagram heading. You don’t need to have an account to see my pictures. I just didn’t add them to this post because it’s already so long.

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I’m famous!!! *wink*

Living On Oxygen for Life

Yay! I have a podcast thanks to the interview I did while at the Pulmonary Hypertension International Conference in June of 2016 and to Steve Van Wormer’s awesome PHAware Global Podcasts. He helps bring awareness to Pulmonary Hypertension. He gives those of us who have the various forms of PH an opportunity to share our stories of what it’s like to go through the process of becoming diagnosed and then living with this incurable disease.

I was pretty nervous about being interviewed. I hope you will check out this website that includes my podcast and many others’. You can listen to me here (so cool!!):

My podcast by PHAware.global to help spread awareness of Pulmonary Hypertension.

Please support this effort by going to this website: “Donate now to support pulmonary hypertension research. Engage for a cure with phaware.” You could even get an “I’m Aware That I’m Rare” t-shirt to spread awareness when you donate. I highly encourage you to check it out.

After you listen to my podcast, come back to my blog and click on the tab above, “Pulmonary Hypertension,” and scroll down to the section that says “My PH Story.” This is something that I wrote that includes everything I wanted to say additionally to what I said in the podcast.

Love y’all! *hugs*

My PH Story

Living On Oxygen for Life

While at the 2016 Pulmonary Hypertension International Conference in Dallas, TX on June 17 – 19, I met Steve Van Wormer, who helped create the PHAware Global Association. At the conference, he did interviews of PH patients to help get their PH Stories out to the public to raise awareness of this devastating and currently incurable disease. He asked me to do an interview. I tried my best to do the interview. He was SO gracious when my brain decided to blank out.. I explained that I write much better than I talk. The long term effect of high CO2 on my brain really has affected my memory and recall. Thank goodness for editing… and cut & paste. Hopefully, he can make something out of what I said.

For this reason, I want to get what I REALLY wanted to say here on my blog. Here we go!

**********

I'm aware that I'm rare. Rocco has now become PHAware. He's my PH Pup!

I’m aware that I’m rare.
Rocco has now become PHAware. He’s my PH Pup!

My name is Christine Liles and I have Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension. I was born with PH due to Congenital Heart Defects and Scoliosis that caused Restrictive Lung Disease. The doctors knew almost right away that I had Pulmonary Hypertension. The pressures were really high and since I was born in 1969, there were no PH medications or a course of treatment for this very rare disease. So, I grew up living with this disease taking Lanoxin for a short time to help slow my heart rate down. I was restricted from most gym activity because of the shortness of breath.

My parents & sisters were great at providing me with as close to a normal life as possible. Before the age of 10 years old, if my sisters bowled and played baseball in leagues, I was right there with them. Granted, I was much slower but I did it even though the doctors kind of frowned upon it. At the age of 10, my parents finally talked my Cardiologist into performing a corrective surgery on my Ventrical Septal Defect in my heart. My Thoracic & Cardiac doctors, both, didn’t want to do it because they didn’t think I had a chance to make it off the table. It was my most glorious moment walking out of the hospital 7 days later with a patched VSD. With that successful surgery, my PH pressures reduced slightly.

Life really improved until I turned 17 years old. I started having blackouts while driving, began becoming forgetful, and my CO2 was much higher. So I started using oxygen at night. As time went by in my life, I started having more Shortness of Breath. My oxygen flow increased, I started using a bipap to sleep with and I had to stop working all together. This happened when I was 23, just a year after I got married to the love of my life. It was a very difficult adjustment. He knew it was coming.. this health change. I told him when we were dating and then before we married. This is the best I will be. I won’t get better because there are no medications to fix my PH and only one pill that can regulate my heart arrhythmia that I now have. I asked him… Can you handle this? His answer was total honesty which is what I wanted to hear but was hard to hear because he said.. I don’t know. And then, I went on oxygen 24/7. My husband has been my rock and he’s made from the finest quality of human beings… his parents.

In 2006, my Cardiologist asked me to check out the medicine Revatio & Cialis with my pulmonologist. So off I went to see my Pulmonologist who then sent me to see a PH Specialist. I didn’t even know there were PH Specialists. Over the years, after trying most of the PH medications that are available, which there aren’t nearly enough, there is only one medication that my body can tolerate. This is what I will stay on until something new comes along that my doctor thinks might work. I’m not a candidate for lung transplant because of my deformed ribs. I spend my life finding different ways to do the things I need to get done. Picking things off the floor are by using my toes to lift it to my hands. Vacuuming is my husband’s job now. I bend at the waist to wash my hair. I have an adapter for my van to use my bipap on the road for vacations while in the car if have trouble breathing. I do things in short bursts of energy. What takes my husband 2 hours to clean the whole house, takes me all week and even then I can’t get all of the really hard things done.. such as scrubbing the tub, vacuuming or mopping the floors.

This is my life now and I’ve learned to adapt which is the key to keeping myself happy. I’ve found hobbies that I can do that brings me GREAT joy. Just to be able to garden, my husband has built me a raised garden at the height of 16 inches to help me not have to bend down to the ground to grow vegetables. Instead of growing my dwarf fruit trees in the ground, he planted them in half whiskey barrels. I had trouble with dragging a long rubber watering hose, so I asked for a Pocket Hose because it is SOOOO light!

Will there be a cure in my lifetime? I don’t really know. In all honesty, I’m not so concerned for a cure for ME. I’ve had a GREAT life, filled with love and so many adventures. What I am concerned about are all the children who have Primary Pulmonary Hypertension. They need a cure in their lifetime. They have their whole life in front of them but with PH and without a cure, all they have are the medications that are currently available. My passion is for these kids. I know what it’s like to grow up with health problems. PH is no easy disease to live with. Help us. Be PHAware and get the message out that we need a cure. WE ARE DESPERATE TO BREATHE. Check out PHAware.global to see how you can become involved in finding a cure and spreading the word about Pulmonary Hypertension. Or follow on social media @phaware

#PHAware

2016 PH International Conference in Dallas, TX

Living On Oxygen for Life

I’ve been waiting for this conference to come for the past several years. It was held several years ago in Canada and ever since then, I’ve been really, REALLY wanting to good.

So imagine my surprise when I heard nearly a year ago that the next conference will be held practically in my own backyard!!! Ok not really that close. It will be in Dallas, TX and that, my friends, is drivable since I go there anyway for my Pulmonary Hypertension doctor appointments. In fact, my doctor will be there. I already told her that I’ll try not to embarrass her by screeching and flagging her down saying, “*GASP!* There’s my doctor!!!*”

Seriously though, this conference is hugely important because it’s where PH patients (like me), Caretakers (like K), PH physicians and some sponsors all come together to offer the latest information about Pulmonary Hypertension. There will be support groups for parents of children with PH as well as for adults with PH and even for the caretakers.

I’m super excited to be spending the weekend there. I’ll have my puppy with me in my room. I think it will be a wonderful experience to be surrounded by so many wonderful people and learning how they have adapted their lives to overcome the challenges of having Pulmonary Hypertension.

I’m really interested in finding the people who were born with scoliosis and have PH as well. That’s similar to my health condition. I was born with Pulmonary Hypertension. So that makes me a long-term survivor of secondary PH and hopefully I can offer information to anyone who asks me.

I will be blogging my experience while at the conference. Hopefully I will have lots of pictures to post & show you. I’m still thinking of whether or not to take Klondike, my rubber chicken. He’s going to need a new hat. My sister kept Klondike’s beach hat. Probably for the llama she has. haha!

Learn more about Pulmonary Hypertension at:PH Association Organization

Be sure you FOLLOW my BLOG to read all about my fun adventures and living on O2 for life!

A good read… trust me..

Living On Oxygen for Life

You know I love writing on my blog about living on oxygen and all that it entails but when an opportunity comes along where I share more of what I know to the world, of course I’d jump at it. I was approached by another blogger, Johan, who writes an incredibly wonderful blog. It’s not about his life. He took blogging to a whole other level. Have you ever been curious about things? Johan interviews people who have incredible stories to tell about all sorts of subjects. Sad stories, adventure, war, inspirational people, space travel… just a lot of interesting interview articles.

When I first visited Read an Interview and started reading the interviews, I thought…these are good! They are something that easily could be in a magazine. So, Johan, emailed me a list of questions pertaining to living with Pulmonary Hypertension and the equipment that I use to survive this incurable disease. I dug deep with this one. It’s the first time I’ve ever done an interview and I hope you like it. If you would like to read it, you can find it here: Living with Pulmonary Hypertension.

I did it!!

Living On Oxygen for Life

I really miss Photoshop. Seriously, I do. I really love taking pictures and also creating neat-looking graphics. So, I fell in love with Photoshop when I had a PC computer. Now that I have a MAC, I don’t have Photoshop. I looked for an app to create something to bring awareness to this month’s Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness campaign. You know, something subtle but eye-catching. Naturally, my picture was in my creation. hehe! Look to your left. Stunning, isn’t it? Ok, don’t laugh. I could only find a very basic app to put text on my photo. So sad. But! It gets the message out there and that is what’s most important. For those who need more information on Pulmonary Hypertension please go to: Pulmonary Hypertension Association.

We need YOU to spread the AWARENESS of Pulmonary Hypertension!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Hello to November! It’s finally cool weather. I never thought this day would come here in Texas. There is something else exciting happening in November! Oh yes… exciting, indeed! November is the month designated for Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness. So, get out your Periwinkle or Purple clothes and support PH for the cure!

Seriously, we need your help. Did you know that Pulmonary Hypertension is a incurable disease… that means, there’s no cure.. YET! With YOUR help, by spreading the awareness of this disease, you can, not only help others to become educated about Pulmonary Hypertension, you can be saving someone’s life. Did you know that Pulmonary Hypertension is often misdiagnosed? For example, a lot of people with PH, before being diagnosed, just think that they are out of shape or their doctors think they have asthma or just extra tired. PH is a serious disease that can kill within 3 years of being diagnosed without medical treatment.

I don’t mean to scare people. I mean I have this disease. There are only 12 approved medications to treat Pulmonary Hypertension. That’s not nearly enough. Double lung transplants can cure you but how many people out there have signed up to be a donor? Are you one? If you are and I could be approved to have a transplant (which I can not), I would thank you from the bottom of my heart.

There are several ways to read up on Pulmonary Hypertension. You can visit Pulmonary Hypertension Association or visit PHAware.

I want to add a SHOUT OUT for two websites that sell some pretty awesome PH jewelry. PHantistic Jewelry and Josephine’s Jewelry. I’ve bought from both of these lovely ladies and they make some awesome jewelry for a price you can’t beat! Support Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness and wear that periwinkle or purple!!!

Supporter of PHA
Women are 4X more likely to develop idiopathic pulmonary hypertension (IPAH) - know the symptoms - infographic