At the age of just 21, Cobey was diagnosed with a progressive and incurable lung disease called Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). For Christmas this year, Coby is wishing for a cure for lung disease.
I had shortness of breath, a racing heart and fatigue. I rationalised all my symptoms but deep down I knew something wasn’t right.– Cobey 23
I went from being very active to not being able to walk my dog because of the shortness of breath. I would fall asleep at 7pm because of the fatigue. I saw a GP for the racing heart and they diagnosed me with anxiety, but they didn’t send me for any tests even though I told them about my shortness of breath.
I was living in Yeppoon in 2018 completing my pharmacy internship and I came back to Brisbane to get my annual check-up at the Prince Charles Hospital – I have been monitored by them since 2016 for an unrelated heart issue. During my check up, my test were taking much longer than they normally did and during the echocardiogram, they stopped halfway through and brought my cardiologist in to speak to me. They said that I may have Pulmonary Hypertension as the right side of my heart had doubled in size from 2017 and my pulmonary pressures had gone from normal to high.
They wanted to admit me to hospital so they could fast track all my diagnostic tests as I wasn’t living in Brisbane. I spent five days in hospital and I had all sorts of tests done: blood tests, VQ scan, pulmonary function tests, 6-minute walk tests, right and left heart catheter etc.
I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) in July 2018.
I was totally devastated. It turned my life upside down. At my age, you don’t expect to be told you have a life-threatening disease with no cure. Not when you think you have the rest of your life ahead of you.
I was told that at this stage having children would be very dangerous and that the medication I was put on to help my disease could cause birth defects. My fiancé and I had talked about having children in the future, but my diagnosis has made us re-evaluate these plans.
It’s a terminal disease with no cure so finding out at 21 I had a condition like that was pretty hard.
Adjusting my lifestyle was a big change. It’s not something you can get better from. I’ll be dealing with it for the rest of my life. Every day is a mental and physical battle.
Since I’ve been diagnosed and put on medication, my life has improved. Medical advances have come a long way and I’m hopeful of what the future holds with more research.
Cobey knows that at some point, the medication she is on may stop working. Thankfully, she has other options through further medication; however at some point a lung transplant will be a likely necessity.
“My one wish for Christmas is a cure for lung disease. No one should have to go through this.”