“With some adjustments, you can live a happy and fulfilled life”
Cynthia Croughton from Hertfordshire was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension aged 70, and years later, still enjoys an active life. She shares her inspirational PH journey with Emphasis.
“Although I was only diagnosed with PH much later in life, I’ve had problems with my lungs since I was eighteen months old, when I developed pneumonia following a bout of measles. Later on I can remember becoming out of breath just walking up the hill to the train station on my way to work in London.
That said, I have always loved sport and played netball, tennis, badminton and occasionally squash when I was younger. I was always out of breath, of course, but after a while I developed little ploys to get my breath back – tidying up the tennis balls at the back of the court, or bouncing the ball a few times before serving.
It wasn’t until 2004, just after my 70th birthday, that I realised something had changed. I was first referred to a cardiologist who said the problem was my lungs. A chest specialist sent me for a CT scan which revealed both lungs were full of blood clots; I was admitted to hospital straight away and started on Warfarin.
Being a member of PHA UK is a huge support and encouragement.Cynthia Croughton
Despite this I had further bouts of pulmonary emboli in 2005 and 2006, and it was not until a second opinion was sought that I was referred to Hammersmith Hospital’s Pulmonary Hypertension Service in February 2007. It had taken five doctors two and a half years to properly diagnose PH.
In a way, it was a relief to find myself in a hospital where doctors and nurses were showing me such care and explaining all I needed to know about my illness. I have gradually become more breathless more quickly on exertion, which has restricted my walking and activities. But I have a stairlift and use a stick, or sometimes two. I can still drive and have a Blue Badge but most of all I have a very supportive husband and family, many kind friends, and neighbours offering help too.
Being a member of PHA UK is a huge support and encouragement and I realise how fortunate I am to have had such an active and contented life for so long. Others are not so lucky, because PH is not an old ladies disease. I have had to learn patience and to be thankful for the many things I still enjoy. So to anyone newly diagnosed I would say, don’t be despondent; there is so much help out there so please accept it. Then with some adjustments you can live a happy and fulfilled life.”