Many people in their late 20’s find themselves settling down to build a family. Maybe they’re building their career – or even buying their first home. What the majority of people are not doing is working through a congestive heart failure diagnosis, but that’s exactly what Tina Marie Marsden found herself doing.
Tina was 28, and diagnosed with a form of pregnancy-related heart failure called postpartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM). In her case, missed early warning signs during and after her pregnancy; and an inability to recover eventually led to her needing a mechanical heart pump/LVAD.
It all started when at 4-months post-partum Tina continued to experience shortness of breath. Having recently moved to Metro Atlanta from Indianapolis, Tina knew something was wrong. Pre-pregnancy and throughout adolescence, Tina had been healthy – athletic, fit, and unaware of her paternal history of heart disease. That state of health she had known for so long created a fear of going into the hospital, because she was worried her symptoms were so debilitating they would keep her there. Finally, she was forced to visit the emergency room because her symptoms became too difficult to live with.
She was quickly discharged with a diagnosis of walking pneumonia, then returned home and continued to experience shortness of breath so debilitating she couldn’t lie down. Tina returned to the hospital. This time, they listened to her. Conducting multiple diagnostic tests on this visit led to her diagnosis of postpartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) and congestive heart failure.
Leaving the hospital after this diagnosis, Tina created a new normal. A diet of decreased sodium and fat intake combined with her daily walks helped lead to her to losing over 40 pounds in 4 months. Instead of just accepting her diagnosis, Tina decided to have a say in the rest of her story.
Around this time, she joined the American Heart Association at a local Go Red For Women event in Atlanta. This event led to her advocacy, and ultimately becoming connected with Laura Bracci, Government Relations Director. Laura was able to invite Tina to share her story with the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on February 1st, where Expanded Postpartum Medicaid Coverage passed unanimously. This policy was voted favorably out of Senate, and is now waiting to be placed on House Health and Human Services Committee.
Advocates like Tina would tell you “advocating is an on-going process,” but that’s why they get involved with lifesaving campaigns – to make a difference. And Tina, who is passionate about post-partum health for new mothers, ended her story with a final thought as a survivor who never stopped fighting: “We didn’t overcome to live, not to live.”
Joining You’re the Cure was a way Tina kept fighting, and hasn’t stopped. Like all of our advocates, we accomplish what we do because of your fight. Thank you – and thank you, Tina!