I'm Aware That I'm Rare: David Grady
Pulmonary Hypertension patient, David Grady is a recently retired police officer from Ohio. Because he lives along, David describes the importance of being your own advocate. David is also a proud member of the PH Men’s PHight Club on facebook. He discusses how PHight Club strives to be role models for the younger generation of males suffering from this rare, life-threatening disease.
My name is David Grady, and I’m from Cleveland, Ohio.
2008 I had been short of breath, probably for about a year, year and half. Kept saying it was my asthma, increasing my asthma medication. It wasn’t doing anything. Feeling short of breath, having trouble walking up stairs. Saw my primary care doctor for just a physical. He always did an EKG for the last couple of year. He did it this time, and he heard him outside the room, telling the nurse that the machine’s broken. I thought, “Uh, the machine’s not broken. There’s something wrong.”
He did it again, and looked at it, and he says, “When you get dressed, meet me in my office.” I’ve been family friend, you know he’s a family friend. I sat in his office, and he said, “I’m not really sure what’s wrong, your EKG says there’s a problem with the right side of your heart.” He said, “I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s pulmonary hypertension.” I thought, “Ah, hypertension, you know.” Mid-40s. I was a policemen. Figured, well, that’s kind of par for the course I guess. I kind of half listened to him, went home. Googled pulmonary hypertension and was like, “Holy crap!” This is really serious, it’s not most people’s idea of what hypertension is. It was a whole different disease.
About the following Monday, it was Friday the 13th when he told me this. Of course it’s 3:00 in the afternoon, no cardiologist are in their office. He tried to call a couple. He said, “I’m going to go have you meet with somebody on Monday.” I had an echo done. The nurse wasn’t really too concerned, it seemed like. She said if it was really bad a doctor would be in here. So I felt better. The next morning, about 8:00, the hospital calls, “How fast can you be in here?” I said, “Well, half hour.” “All right we’ll see you in a half hour. We want to set you up for a CAT scan.”
They did that. Waited around. They said tomorrow you’re scheduled for a heart cath. From Friday to Wednesday, I had the heart cath and my pulmonary pressures were like, 75. The cardiologist told me, “I’m going to refer you to the Cleveland Clinic. I see this once every 3 years, and they’re the best people to go to.” I met Dr. Joseph Parambil, and my nurse Nancy Bear. Really, it was a life, game changer for me. Great doctor. Very positive. She’s a great lady, great nurse. When you’re not sure what’s going on, and that black cloud’s hanging over you a little bit, he told me, “Don’t worry about how long you’re going to live, just live life normally, and we’ll get through this together.”
It was really an important message at the time. It just wasn’t, take this medicine, see how it works, talk to you in 6 months, bye. I think back to that, if I hadn’t gotten him as a doctor, would the same results, you know maybe they would have. It was just his positivity and her kindness, really, at a time when you need it.
Yesterday was my 8 year anniversary of pulmonary hypertension. I feel great. I’m on a 3 medicine cocktail, I guess. I feel great. Walk on the treadmill for 3.5 miles a couple times a week. I have a dog. I take her for couple mile walks every day. You have to remain positive, and I think that was conveyed to me by my doctor early on. Live life. Your sick but, don’t think you’re sick. A lot of it’s just metal. You’ve got to keep pushing through.
Yeah, I’m involved with Men’s PHight Club. It’s just a male organization on Facebook that has PH. We support each other. We have a good time. We don’t sit there and wallow in self-pity or anything. It’s a great group of guys. We’re kind of the forgotten group in pulmonary hypertension. We want the young male kids, when they get older, because the medicines are fantastic. They’re going to live to be our age, and we want to set a group that they can continue on, 30, 40 years from now. You’re kind of role models for the younger generation too, that, hey, we’ve been there. What are your questions, concerns? We’ll be happy to sit down and talk to you. That’s what I think is really important with the group.
I’m aware of what’s going on with the new research. Nobody in my house has, since it’s just me, and unless my dog learns to talk, pick up on … If I’m feeling bad, I have to make sure that I take care of myself. That I call the doctor and let him know. I don’t have a wife, or a girlfriend who lives in the house to say, “You really look bad, you ought to see the doctor.” It’s all on me. Which I’m good with. I’m okay with that. You have to really be on top of your game sometimes. You don’t have a fall back.
I just think all this awareness is fantastic. The advocacy has grown so much, with phaware, and groups like that in just the last 2 to 3 years. The research, with the new meds. You hear, you know, South American countries with one medicine. We have 14. You feel horrible, that people don’t have the same opportunities to feel healthy. The more we advocate for, get this disease out there, and let all the doctors really educate them on it. It’ll really help improve a lot of other people’s health, and that’s what’s important.
David Grady, I’m aware that I’m rare!