My Friend Karen, Pulmonary Hypertension & Sarcoidosis

Sunrise: December 11, 1961- Sunset: May 19, 2020

On May 19, 2020 Karen lost her battle with Pulmonary Hypertension/Sarcoidosis after 7 weeks in the hospital. Karen will be missed greatly, and we want the world to know how much we loved her! A larger than life personality and a light so great went out on May 2020. Rest in Heaven Karen. Let the peace of God rest, rule, and abide in you.!/TributeWall.

What Is Pulmonary Hypertension?

According to the CDC and Medical MD, Pulmonary hypertension a type of heart disease can occur when the pressures in the blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs is extremely higher than normal. Which can be very hard to control, causing lung disease and cardiovascular disease.

Pulmonary hypertension, is when the blood vessels to the lungs develop a higher muscle mass. The heart will pump blood from the (R) ventricle to the lungs to get it’s supply of oxygen. But because the blood doesn’t have far to travel, the pressure in this side of the heart and in the artery that takes blood from the (R) ventricle to the lungs is usually very low, often times lower than the systolic or diastolic blood pressures.

As the pressure in this particular artery is higher than normal. The arteries in the lungs will narrow and will cause the blood not to flow as freely as needed. Resulting in less oxygen in the blood, pressures in the lungs, creating a form of heart disease or heart failure. As we learned more, we became more aware of heart health care.

The odds were stacked against Karen, Pulmonary Hypertension, Sarcoidosis, Diabetes, Heart failure, Allergies, Portable Concentrators, Inability to breathe, and a Mobility issue, not to mention living on a budget that seem to blow her mind every month. My 8 year old grandson said “She ran out of choices “, this statement affected me for a moment. I had to shake myself in oder to come to terms with it, but it was true. All the breathing exercises and oxygen therapy could not help as we waited hoping a transplant could happen.

What Is Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis is a disease that is characterized by the growth of very small collections of inflammatory cells (Granulomas) in any part of your body, but usually in the lungs and lymph nodes. It is also known to affect your eyes, heart, skin and other organs. It is unknown what the cause of sarcoidosis is, experts believe it can result from the body’s immune system responding to an unknown substance.

It is also know that there is no cure, and the only alternative is a lung transplant, if you are lucky. People with sarcoidosis have a tough time breathing, so imagine having both Sarcoidosis and Pulmonary Hypertension. On the maximum amount of oxygen one can use at home, but even in the hospital this became an issue. Heart disease is the leading cause of death especially for African American women.

Karen and I met back in 2014, she was a General Manager and I was this little old pee-butt supervisor who had the rude awakening of what it was like to work in the hospital in Houston. Karen loved her job and knew it like the back of her hand. From cleaning and waxing or stripping floors, to cooing with the CEO’s and everyone else in between.

The EVS/Environmental Services is what Karen was put her on this earth to do. It was incredible watching her do her job, and me meeting all of these big wigs on the job. In Karen’s sleep, during church service, in the shower, going 85mph down the 45, Karen could tell you all you needed to know, and where to find it. She could run a buffer in her sleep.

Karen and I got acquainted and traveled a few places together such as Atlanta, Oklahoma and Dallas. Because of her lack of oxygen flow, I would pack up the car and she would do all of the driving, down the road we would go. She never let the oxygen get in her way of doing anything she wanted to do. Until 2017, when a different company out bid us on the contract, and she no longer had a job. It was also during that time that the Pulmonary Hypertension surfaced, rather congenital heart failure.

Karen loved traveling, singing in the choir, she loved her TV shows and people. She had this larger than life personality and a smile big as Texas. Her smile was simply inviting to all and she met no strangers. She showed her professionalism and skills off like no ones business at that job, and had the greatest way with people, especially her employees.

The timing was crazy because she had started getting worse. Karen went from a small cylinder (M6) in a backpack on her back. Where it gave her air when she would inhale, to a (E) tank lasting only about 45 minutes with a constant flow at 10 liters, but would ordinarily last two or three hours depending on the circumstances. She had reached the point where she could not walk as usual, having to rely on a mobile scooter to get around the hospital, as well as other locations; such as church, the grocery store etc,. But Karen did what she had to do.

Often times she grew depressed knowing that her health was taking a turn for the worst. The shortness of breath grew obvious every day. Taking a deep breath became harder, because the lungs would not inhale or exhale as needed. Cheering her up became more and more difficult at times, reminding her to keep the faith. Knowing that God was able to heal her body even if He didn’t, this is the word of God for the people of God.

Karen grew up in church and it was all she knew, you couldn’t deter her from the word or faith that was embedded in her from when she was a child. So Karen knew that things would be easier with God. To comfort herself she would pray and sing, she would worship and cry, to God, her Creator, her Redeemer, the Salvation of her soul.

I write this article because Karen was my friend, I could tell anything, we spoke several times everyday on the phone. During these unprecedented times with Covid19, I wasn’t able to attend her funeral in Oklahoma. She spent about seven weeks in the hospital, before going home to be with God. I couldn’t even imagine being in the hospital that long and only getting to see my friends and family once, after being told there was no hope.

Giving five months, Karen had a harsh reality to deal with. Luckily the doctors allowed a friend to be with her, while told she wasn’t eligible for a transplant. and this would be the end of what the hospital could do for her. “Anyone who desires to see you, they can come now”. We can offer you In-house Hospice, you can go home and live out the remainder of your time, but there is no one at home with you. So Karen opted not to drag this process out.

Karen made a tough decision that night, she decided that all the extra oxygen they were giving her wasn’t needed that night, May 19, 2020. I got the call from Felicia who never calls me, so I instantly knew. I was on the phone with another friend who was dealing with her husband who was found unconscious on the ground, in ICU, non-responsive and that situation wasn’t looking good. I begin to cry, trying to be strong for AC, but could not contain myself. AC wanted to know what was wrong, I told her Karen Passed, she cried and I cried. Wow, what a night!

I wanted to share with my audience about the day I loss my friend, because I was extremely full emotionally. It seem that maybe if I share, I could get some relief, especially since we are in a pandemic, no family near by, and trying to process everything that has happened lately. Yes, AC loss her husband, which was mind blowing to say the least. Praying and crying, pleading with God to heal the land, heal the sick, and heal the broken hearted. With no sign of relief in the near future, my mind is racing wondering when, why and if.

Words cannot really comfort the heart, so it takes God intervening in the situation. I can say I have some comfort knowing that Karen made a conscious decision on May 19, 2020. No more pain and suffering for Karen, but no more chatting each afternoon or evening. I cried at first but realized that she was okay, she knew what she was doing when she decided this was the end.

Karen took care of the obvious, the inevitable, she must have thought why suffer five or six more months? No one could even imagine what was going on in her mind or heart, but what I do know is, she so wanted to live. Karen did not want to die alone at the house, so in that aspect she got part of what she wanted.

Rest In Peace my friend! I love you with the love of the LORD. Anita