Heart Stories – Joana Marie S. Egido

Exhausted and unable to properly breathe, Joana Marie S. Egido wouldn’t have made it without her village coming together to care for her. Although she survived the night, Joana had many more challenges ahead as she faced a peripartum cardiomyopathy diagnosis in a Third World country. Here is Joana’s story.

On July 26, 2013, I gave birth to my son, Kyrie, in the Philippines. The birth of my first child was so exciting but I knew almost from the start that something was not right.

After returning home from the hospital, I recall laying down with my son to breastfeed. I could barely lift my head due to my exhaustion. Laying down flat didn’t help, however, because whenever I tried, I suddenly found it very difficult to breathe. As I laid there struggling to feed my baby I was painfully coughing with each inhalation. Around 10 pm that evening I felt like I couldn’t breathe at all. I screamed for help and soon my mother-in-law rushed in to aid me.

In the Philippines, we only have motorcycles for transportation and it obviously wasn’t possible for me to ride on one in my current state. With this, my mother-in-law went around to all of our neighbors begging for help. Learning that I was in trouble, the village came together to help care for me. Many brought natural herbs to massage into my pressure points to help keep my circulation flowing and my heart pumping. Using special techniques, they massaged me throughout the night using various herbal leaves. Our village is very poor and we don’t have money to spare but we come together for survival. I feel so blessed to have a village that cared enough to try and save my life.

At some point during the night, I passed out and didn’t wake up until around 5 am the next morning. When I opened my eyes my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and three nephews were surrounding me and keeping guard. I could tell by the looks on their terrified faced that something horrible had occurred the night before. Gently they told me that my heart had stopped while they had been caring for me. I was shocked when I heard this and my mind instantly jumped to my newborn. Turning my head to the side, I saw my child sleeping soundly next to me. My family told me that he had given them no issue while they were tending to me. He had slept through the night and hadn’t cried once while his mommy was in cardiac arrest.

That day my brother-in-law hired a motor cab off the street to take me to the hospital. When I arrived, the nurses in the emergency room didn’t make much of an effort to assist me. As I sat there experiencing extreme shortness of breath, I could hear the nurses talking and laughing. My mother-in-law finally could no longer take another minute of their disregard for my health, she shouted “Help her! We need oxygen, my daughter is catching her breath.” Upon hearing her they turned their heads to find me passed out on the floor of the ER.

After acknowledging my condition, they took my vitals, placed an IV in my hand, and gave me oxygen. The cardiologist was then contacted and he was able to diagnosis me with peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) after analyzing the results of my echo and ECG. Over the next two weeks, I stayed in the ICU for treatment.

Following the birth of my son, I had started to swell and getting the fluid off of my body was a top priority for my medical team. While I was in the hospital, I was given diuretics which helped me shed the thirty extra pounds of fluid. Finally, on August 13, 2013, I was discharged from the hospital and allowed to return home to my baby.

After leaving the hospital, the doctor had advised me to return in two weeks for follow-up care. Due to my family’s financial situation, however, I couldn’t go to those follow-up appointments or maintain my medication. It wasn’t until almost seven years later when I was able to connect with the PPCM Fund and receive financial assistance that I was finally able to start receiving medical care again.

I am so grateful to my village for saving my life and feel so lucky that they were there for me when I needed them the most. I am also extremely grateful for PPCM FUND Inc. Over the past year, their financial support has helped fund my medical visits, medication, seeds to create Kyrie’s Farm that helps feed my village and provide us with a fruitful business.

I want people to know that having PPCM is not something to take lightly. This is a life-threatening condition for mothers and more awareness needs to happen now. This is a silent killer of women especially in a country like the Philippines where there is such a lack of medical knowledge about PPCM.

Thank you for reading my story and God bless all of my heart sisters.

Joana is a supporter of the PPCMFund INC. 

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