With her upbeat attitude and never ending smile, if it
weren’t for the oxygen tubes, it would be hard to tell at
first glance that Carrie Peterson of Norwood Young America has
a serious medical condition.
In January, a few months after the birth of her third child,
Montana, Peterson was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension,
which causes the pulmonary artery to become enlarged. The
condition restricts the blood supply to her lungs and the
oxygen to her heart.
For many the life expectancy after diagnoses is three years.
However, with Peterson’s age and medical advances, doctors
are optimistic she will have a long life a head of her.
Peterson began feeling ill in the early months of her
pregnancy. She was suddenly short of breath after walking only
10 to 15 steps.
“The doctors thought the baby was just positioned on my
diaphragm,” Peterson said of her early symptoms. “So we
just assumed it was the baby.”
However, her condition worsened. About a month before Montana
was born, Peterson began having difficulty standing and was
After the baby was born, her ankles became swollen and it
became more difficult to walk shorter and shorter distances.
Then she began passing out. She fell in the shower and in the
bathroom. She was having horrible stomach cramps and was
seeing what she described as lightening spots. When trying to
do the dishes, she would have to sit every two minutes,
because she was out of breath.
Peterson became a frequent visitor at the doctor’s office.
Each visit revealed a possible diagnoses: toxemia, asthma, and
even the possibility of post partum depression. However, none
were the source of Peterson’s condition.
Then Peterson began to notice her stomach was becoming
“My stomach was bigger than it was when I was pregnant,”
After passing out five days in a row, Peterson again went to
the doctor, knowing something was seriously wrong. Instead of
going to her normal doctor’s office, she went to Lakeview
Clinic in Norwood Young America because it was closer.
Dr. Bergeron and Nurse Yancy saw her.
After some tests, Bergeron discovered Peterson’s heart was
enlarged. She was sent to Ridgeview Medical Center for a CT
scan. Within an hour she had the answer to what was wrong with
her— Pulmonary Hypertension.
“I was so happy to finally know what was wrong. That was all
that mattered. I no longer felt like I was crazy,” Peterson
said. “I am so thankful to them (Dr. Bergeron and Nurse
Yancy). They saved my life.”
Since her diagnoses, while Peterson is more comfortable due to
medications, her life definitely isn’t easy. While the
oxygen makes it easier to breath, she also takes about 30
pills a day. Recently she had surgery to install a
subcutaneous pump, which gives her constant medication.
She’s not in pain, except for the injection sites for the
medication pump, as she has had to change it every three days.
So far the nine different sites in her left arm have left very
painful welts. She says to even lightly bump it on something
causes great pain.
Peterson has remained positive through her ordeal and is
hopeful they will be able to stabilize her condition.
After all, with three young children and a husband, Peterson
said she has a lot to look forward to and live for.
“The doctors and nurses at Abott have been wonderful,”
Peterson said. At Abbot she sees Dr. Lawer and Kathy
O’Brien, a nurse practitioner, whom she says have given her
wonderful care. She has to visit the doctor on a weekly basis.
If the current methods of treatment are unable to stabilize
her condition the only other option for Peterson is a heart
and lung transplant. While she has been given the information
about the double transplant, the doctors will try every other
available option first.
“God’s pulling our way and has gotten us this far,
While Peterson is hoping for a cool summer, as the heat and
humidity make it harder to breath, she enjoys spending time
with her children, Hailey, 12, Raeven, 7, and Montana, even if
she can’t venture out doors.
She said other members of her family including her mother and
sisters have been wonderful and have been able to help find
activities for the kids to enjoy.
Peterson’s family moved to Norwood Young America in 1998 and
since then she has been an active volunteer at school,
community food shelf, and her church. For several years she
helped make the Sunday evening “Backroom” at the Pizza
Ranch a popular activity for Norwood Young America youth and
helped organize “Party at the Park” and the annual city
wide “free garage sale”.
Since her diagnoses, Peterson has also been unable to work.
Her husband, Joe, has had to take over her duties as caretaker
for the apartment and town home complex they live in. He also
needs to be home to care for their family and to transport
Carrie to weekly appointments at Abbott Heart Hospital and
countless other trips to Lakeview Clinic.
However, with medication and doctor’s bills, money has been
tight for the Peterson’s, especially with children. Luckily
the Peterson’s have health insurance, as if they didn’t
the bills would be more than $70,000 a month. Even with
insurance, however, the medical bills take up more than half
their small income.
In order to help the Peterson family, a benefit is being held
on Wednesday, June 20. The Mexican Fiesta and Silent Auction
will take place at the Willkommen Memorial Park Pavilion.
Dinner will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the silent
auction taking place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The cost for the
event is $5 for adults. The cost for children six and under is
$3. Donations may also be sent to “Caring for Carrie” at
Klein Bank, P.O. Box 839, Norwood Young America, 55368.
Peterson and her family are grateful for all the support their
friends and community have shown over the past several months.
“There are lots of people who have done a lot for us. I want
to say thank you to everyone,” Peterson said.