My name is Nia Elsbeth, I’m 26 years old and this is my ‘Souls with a Story’. It begins in September 2011. I was thrilled to have had a teaching assistant’s post in a local Primary school following an unsuccessful application for the teachers training course to begin that September. Undoubtedly upset at not beginning the teachers training, I was very much looking forward to contributing to a school that I had attended as a child, a school that I held very dear to my heart.
One morning, a few weeks into my new job, I had a bout of coughing (which wasn’t unusual as I had been diagnosed with Asthma for many years) I started to cough up blood (hemoptysis). I was living at home with my parents at the time, my mum quickly realised I needed immediate medical attention and fortunately, took me to the A&E department, which was only a 10-minute drive away. Thankfully, I was seen to immediately, but the experience for both my mum and myself was surreal and frightening.
The medical staff were perplexed, not knowing the cause of the bleeding, and especially puzzled at these symptoms in a young, healthy woman. For many days, the coughing of blood persisted and my symptoms did not ease, I saw numerous doctors and consultants, still unaware of what was wrong, a decision was made for me to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Following many days of discussions surrounding my health, doctors agreed that I was to be flown to the Hammersmith Hospital, London; a Specialist Hospital renowned for it’s strong research connections. However, in the end the operation had to be done locally because of the urgency.
Doctors analysed my blood and lymph vessels and found an abnormality within my right lung. Surgeons then inserted a coil into the right lung, dividing the malformation of an artery and vein. To my relief, I was told that the procedure was a success and the cause of the hemoptysis was referred to as a ‘Pulmonary Arteriovenous Malformation’ which put down to a possible congenital defect. I was later discharged from hospital.
During this very traumatic week, my nephew was born, and holding this healthy baby in my arms gave me hope that I was going to lead a happy and healthy life. For a few enjoyable months, I returned as a teaching assistant, and life seemed back to normal, I felt happy.
Everything seemed to be going well, until one day the symptoms of hemoptysis came back with avengeance, and I coughed up a lot of blood. The next few days were terrifying, and before I could accept what was happening, I was told that I was to have a Lobectomy; the surgical removal of two thirds of my right lung. The surgery went well, and I spent time from then on recovering in Intensive Care.
It was three months before I could return to work. My mother was my full time career; bathing me, dressing me, feeding me; without her and my family’s support, I would not have been able to remain so positive.
I have since returned to work and qualified as a Teacher. There were times were it was very tough, and times where I wanted to give up, but I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t because I love being a teacher. I am living a normal and healthy life, and, above all, I have become a mum to a precious baby boy.
The fear of the unknown still scares me, but if I have learned one thing, it is to live one day at a time because we simply don’t know what is around the corner. If anything, I now feel better with 2/3 of my lung removed, my asthma symptoms have eased and I feel that I can do more.
I will always be thankful to the dedicated staff within the NHS. The care that I received was simply remarkable. I believe that by supporting each other we can get through life’s challenges easier and by talking about these challenges we feel less alone.
I have been told that I may have sailed through life without this defect affecting me, but it did, and this is my ‘Souls with a Story’.