The first signs that something was wrong
I was on vacation in New York City when I first noticed I was having trouble breathing. I’m a fitness fanatic, so that got me worried. I had never experienced anything like this.
I’m from the Caribbean island of Grenada, so I went to a doctor in New York but nothing was found. I also saw a doctor when I returned home. But again, they couldn’t find anything. Something had to be wrong, but what?
Things gradually got worse over time. I kept having trouble breathing. After only 10 minutes of exercise, I got very tired. This wasn’t like me. Every test came back negative. Nobody could figure out what was wrong with me. I wondered if I would ever find out.
Good news that quickly turned bad
Since Grenada has limited medical resources, I returned to New York in search of an answer. It was there, in 2016, that a cardiologist diagnosed me with blood clots in my lungs. I finally had an answer! I was relieved to know what was causing my breathing problems.
The doctor put me on blood thinners to prevent more clots from forming, but there was bad news. Since the clots had been there for awhile, I had also developed severe pulmonary hypertension. That’s a dangerous type of high blood pressure that occurs in the lungs’ arteries.
The news got even worse. The combination of the two problems led to a life-threatening condition called chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, or CTEPH for short. This was causing the right side of my heart to fail.