Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 25, 2013

McNutt stays positive in fight against pulmonary hypertension

VALDOSTA — Christa McNutt couldn’t be happier about turning 40. Her birthday was in January, and she feels fantastic about it.

“Forty is the new 30 or something, right?” she said. “I have no qualms about growing older or getting gray hair or wrinkles. I love every minute of it!”

This might seem strange to the average aging adult clinging to her youth, but McNutt counts another year past her like another hurdled jumped. With pulmonary hypertension, everyday breathing is precious.

In patients with PH, the blood pressure in the tissues of the lungs are extremely high, causing shortness of breath, severe chest pains, dizziness and fainting, swelling of the legs and abdomen, and sometimes blue fingertips or lips.

“Normal lung pressure is between 14 and 25 mmHg,” McNutt said. “At diagnosis in May of 2010, the pressure in my lungs was 100 mmHg. Now it’s 49.”

Circulation problems associated with the disease can lead to heart failure, and currently, there is no cure.

McNutt takes a diuretic twice a day for swelling, and for the constricted blood vessels of the lungs that cause the symptoms, she takes a drug called Adcirca, more commonly known as Cialis, taken by men for erectile dysfunction.

The constriction in the lungs in PH patients is caused by an excess of the normal human protein called endothelin that naturally constricts blood vessels. McNutt takes a third drug called Letairis to block it. She sleeps and goes out of the house during the day (only on good days) with a tank of oxygen.

“You sort of go through a grieving process after being diagnosed,” McNutt said. “You have to say goodbye to your old life and the way you used to do things in order to figure out new ways of doing things, so you can start your new life. I do have bad days. I call them PHunk days. But I don’t allow myself to wallow for a long time because there are so many things I want to see and do.”

McNutt was a hairstylist for 18 years, and she had to retire because of her disease. She misses her old life and her job, but she has developed other hobbies to occupy her time.

“I enjoy photography on my feel-good days, and I’ve surprised myself by taking up cooking,” McNutt said. “Normally I’m the one that would rather clean.”

McNutt had to say goodbye to Savannah, where she lived for 11 years, and move back to Valdosta because of her health. She now lives with her father and his wife, who help her get through her bad days and stay positive.

“It had been an adjustment for all of us, but I’m thankful I’m able to be here for now,” McNutt said. “I hope to get my own place again soon. My sister and my dad both worry a good bit, and my PHunk days probably put a bit of strain on things, but I think all in all, we’re handling it well.”

McNutt had never heard of PH until she had gone to the doctor for a regular check-up and was told her oxygen was low. Her physician seemed unconcerned, she said, but one of her friends in nursing school advised her to get a second opinion, and took McNutt to the ER.

Doctors in the ER told her the symptoms she had been having were either due to PH or heart failure.

“I felt horrible,” McNutt said. “My lungs felt like they were on fire when I’d walk long distances. Today I feel pretty good. I just have to think about everything I’m going to be doing before I do it because of medications and the PH symptoms.”

McNutt sometimes has several good days in a row, but she will pay for them with several bad days, she said. Spontaneity is difficult with her condition.

To learn more about her disease and how to manage it, McNutt joined an online support group and did some research at PHAssociation.org . The information and the advice of her web friends during the last four years have given her hope, a reason to stay positive, and some lasting connections.

“I also have a friend — or a ‘PHriend’ as we say in the PH community — that I met through ex-coworkers here in town,” McNutt said. “She also has PH. We meet for lunch once a month to vent and mostly have a great time.”

In spite of her tremendous struggle, McNutt will not give up. She’s “too stubborn for that,” she said. One of her friends passed away last year from breast cancer, and McNutt remembers the words she once told her.

“She said, ‘Life isn’t fair, but it’s still wonderful,’” McNutt said. “I think that no matter what kind of cards life deals you, you’ve got to find at least one good thing about your day every single day.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Jim Zachary Mug shot.jpg Zachary named The Valdosta Daily Times’ editor

    Veteran newspaper editor Jim Zachary has assumed the editor’s chair at The Valdosta Daily Times.
    During the past two decades Zachary has been one of the most decorated community newspaper journalists in Georgia and Tennessee.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-griner001.jpg Griner takes oath

     Surrounded by family, friends, and fellow commissioners, Clay Griner took the oath of office Monday morning as the Lowndes County Super District 5 commissioner.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-man_hunt001.jpg Dump truck thieves sought

    Authorities continued searching for suspects Monday evening connected to a stolen dump truck involved in a chase with law-enforcement.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • City workers strike natural gas main

    A gas leak evacuated a neighborhood Monday when workers struck a natural gas main.

    July 29, 2014

  • education.jpg Desegregation status approved

    Forty-three years after an initial lawsuit was filed to force the system to desegregate, Valdosta City Schools has officially been approved for “unitary status.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ARociewilliams_002.jpg Woman shares nearly a century of lessons

    With nearly 100 years of life under her belt, Ocie Viola Williams has plenty of advice to share with the world. Her top two pieces of advice: know the importance of education and don’t expect a teacher to raise your child for you. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • psst1 photo page copy.jpg PSST! finishes peachy season

    Peach State Summer Theatre concluded its 2014 season Sunday, a season which broke attendance records for the professional musical theatre company.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_2381.jpeg Award-winning young professionals share success secrets

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Young Professionals hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn to highlight successful business practices.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140726_summerlibrary002.jpg Library celebrates end of summer reading program

    With the first day of school just around the corner, students are soaking in the last few weeks of summer vacation. The end of summer also means the end of the South Georgia Regional Library’s 2014 summer reading program.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • artseason1 copy.jpg A sneak peek at some area arts organizations’ 2014-15 seasons

    Beethoven. Tennessee Williams. Non-stop art. Two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 2014-15 arts season is coming.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results