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LIving in the present

In Life with PH

I used to love dreaming about my future, and thinking about how great things would be someday. Now, as someone with pulmonary hypertension, I have mixed emotions.

Sometimes the future can feel like a pretty scary place. I worry about what my body will be able to do on its own. I worry about what my health will be like. I worry that I will be alone. Gone are the nights I used to lay awake, excited, thinking about what could be.

Pulmonary hypertension has changed many aspects of my life. One of the hardest things I have tried to adapt to is the sense of worry that washes over me when thinking about my future, and feeling as if I have no permanent roots. Thinking about getting married, moving out, and my future health have all morphed into stomach-turning speculations.

Part of me still feels wonder and excitement about what could be, but part of me aches.

I often think of the words — “And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep” — written by Kurt Vonnegut in “Slaughterhouse-Five” when struggling with musing over my present and my future.

Pulmonary hypertension has certainly taken many things away from me. It has added challenges, obstacles, and pain that I could have lived happily without experiencing.

However, how much of the present is mine if I am constantly in fear of the “what ifs?” By the same token, does every “what if” have to lead to a bad road? Maybe not.

In the past year I have learned to be more present and to live more fully in the moment. I may have a lot of reasons to fear the future, but that doesn’t change the potential for the happiness that today holds.

After diagnosis, I couldn’t imagine having another good day, or making new cherished memories. I kept putting things off for “someday.” I thought I could only enjoy things once all the darkness went away. It took me over a year, but I finally realized that days that had the potential to be something grand were passing me by. I couldn’t wait for “someday” anymore, I had to try and learn to live in the present.

I have found that living in the moment and focusing on the present has helped me live a more meaningful life after diagnosis. Of course, I still struggle with a lot of fear that looms over my future, but I try to maintain my optimism through this as well. I’m very fortunate because the last year of my life (although filled with heartache) was filled with a lot of love, happiness, and small adventures. These were all things that I did not feel were possible again after diagnosis.

Last week I got to go to a farm with my boyfriend and pet a cow. The cow was like a big dog, and leaned into my pets and affectionately wrapped its big tongue around my arm. This may sound silly, but I have always wanted to a pet a cow. It was a really special moment for me. Despite having a head full of worries (and a head cold) I had a really fun day. By shifting my focus to the present, I was able to create some really special memories at the farm.

Maybe by focusing on today, the present is mine to keep.

Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Pulmonary Hypertension. 

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Serena Lawrence graduated from the University of Waterloo 2012 where she earned an honours degree in Fine Arts. After she was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension in 2013 she started the blog called The PHight or Flight Project where she began freelance writing and curating guest writer content. Serena enjoys a good cup of tea, little adventures and her Boston Terrier named Sammy.
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