Kay has primary pulmonary hypertension, a rare condition of the blood vessels in her lungs. There are no treatments that can cure her illness, and she needs multiple medicines.
She is admitted to the hospital almost every month because she has a hard time breathing. Episodes can be brought on by a mere cold or changes in the weather. During these hospitalizations she receives extra doses of medication, but it takes a few days for her to feel better.
Each time she is hospitalized, the palliative care team works with her heart and lung doctors to treat her breathlessness. The medications they prescribe allow Kay to feel calm and comfortable.
With the team’s help, Kay filled out an advance directive to make sure her doctors know she would never want to be on a ventilator. This does not change Kay’s treatment when she is admitted. But now the doctors understand what she would want if she were too sick to breathe on her own.