Voices from the UK's pulmonary hypertension community
Chris Murray, 74, lives in North Wales. He has residual chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) following a pulmonary endarterectomy in 2019.
“The pandemic has been a strange experience. At first, the Welsh health authority didn’t recognise people with PH as being clinically extremely vulnerable and I ended up emailing the government and my local MP about it. Within ten minutes of it being changed, I received phone calls from supermarkets offering home delivery.
As well as my health problems, my wife had cancer a few years ago, so for many months neither of us went beyond the end of the drive.
Luckily both my son and daughter live in the village so if there were times we couldn’t get a supermarket delivery, they would bring us shopping. They would put it by the front door and then trot off. Eventually, we were able to sit in the garden with them with a bit of spacing.
Even when shielding was paused, we still stayed very careful and even now we will do our weekly Tesco shop at 6.45am when there is no-one else around.
I was feeling so much better after my pulmonary endarterectomy so it was frustrating that I couldn’t get out and do things [during the lockdowns]. I did start sneaking out late afternoon or evenings with the car just around the block.
I’m a big model railways enthusiast and I build them in my garage so that kept me busy, and it was a good distraction.
We also have a garden, and my wife is a crossword addict. I must say, I don’t think we were overly bored, and it went surprisingly quickly.
Our house looks out across the village green so you can sit and watch people go by, and it was absolutely fine really.
I had regular ongoing telephone consultations with my specialist centre throughout the pandemic, and the team there have been absolutely excellent.
Getting past the receptionist at my GP surgery has been a bone of contention that I think a lot of people have experienced, and I know this is nationwide and frustrating.
I have had all of my vaccinations and with having a pulmonary endarterectomy I’ve had so many injections and blood tests that needles never bother me. I’ve had no real side effects from the jabs either.
I’m quite happy to get out and about now.
The only thing that annoyed us at first was the number of young men in the supermarket who didn’t wear masks, and when my wife would confront them about it, the abuse we got was unbelievable.
It was annoying because everyone was trying their best and then you get one or two idiots like this. We did also notice that some older people, like us, totally ignored social distancing.
Looking back, I feel we did everything right and I wouldn’t do anything differently.”
~Chris told his 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