Voices from the UK's pulmonary hypertension community
Amy Mitchell, 42, lives in Kent and is in the process of being diagnosed with PH. She opened a children’s play café just before the pandemic hit and was hospitalised with covid during the first lockdown.
“My husband and I opened Ollie Polly Play Cafe in February 2020, and we had only been trading for two weeks before we had to close. We’d spent £27,000 and six months to renovate the building, and then all of a sudden, the bottom fell out of everything.
I was terrified, thinking I would lose the business, the house, everything. At that point, I wasn’t really thinking about my health.
The government was promising support and saying that it would be okay, and my husband and I are lucky that we have faith. We’ve both come from difficult backgrounds which have made us very grateful for everything that we have. We just thought ‘we will get through it.’ We had to believe that it would be okay.
Not long after we had to close the café, I contracted covid and was taken by ambulance to hospital.
I was there for three weeks on oxygen, and I didn’t think I would see my kids again because I couldn’t breathe.
With no visitors allowed, there were lots of video calls and lots of tears from my girls who kept asking why I couldn’t come home. It was hard.
A little while after I had been discharged, I was called back in to take part in a lung study and because I was still breathless and exhausted, further tests were run and this showed part of my lung wasn’t working properly. Looking back on scans, doctors saw a clot in 2015 that hadn’t been flagged up properly, and when pulmonary hypertension was suggested, my world just imploded.
I went through a very bad depression, but then I decided to fight it. The positive mental attitude has got me through covid, my other health problems, everything.
I call myself a Christian but maybe it’s spiritualism rather than faith… having the belief that things will get better.
Because the café was closed, we started providing doorstep-delivered celebration boxes with cakes, decorations and games, and a huge balloon display. We were then able to open with reduced numbers and we provided activity packs for children to do at the tables to minimise mixing.
We learned so much about the business through covid and it’s like we had a two-year trial run in the worst possible circumstances.
But there has been so much support and we are so grateful to have come out the other side and still be growing and thriving.
Another positive from it all is that if I hadn’t had covid, the lung clot wouldn’t have been found and I would never have known what was making me so out of breath and tired.
I feel like we are the lucky ones; a covid success story.”
~Amy told her story to the PHA UK in the summer of 2022~
Life is short, and that is exactly what the last couple of years have shown us
The lack of control is probably what I struggled with most
I wasn’t willing to go back to work and put her in danger
Every corner I turned during the pandemic was scary, but my specialist centre gave me hope