My beginner’s driving permit expired this summer. Even though it is no longer valid, I still carry it around with me in my wallet. It serves as a sort of memento, a sacred artifact to remind me that I am 29 and still can’t drive. I mean, it is a relic to remind me that I am still here.
When I was diagnosed with PH four years ago, my future felt pretty uncertain. I was told that I probably only had a few years left to live and was referred to as the “sickest of the sick” by one of my doctors.
It became pretty important at this time that my IDs were up to date in the chance that something happened. I was often asked when my healthcare card and driver’s permit expired, which I usually met with laughter. I vividly remember looking at the date on my driver’s permit and thinking how I wouldn’t be here to have to worry about renewing it. There was a time when I really thought all of this would be gone by now.
But here I am, four years later, sans driver’s permit. (As a side note, I might have to actually learn how to drive now. I am running out of excuses at this point. No one is buying it when I say I am too scared to drive — I’ve been awake for a right-cath, after all.)
Truthfully, my future still feels uncertain — but it doesn’t feel as shaky. And doesn’t everyone’s future feel uncertain to an extent? Healthy people get sick, careers change, relationships end, and metaphorical anvils drop from the sky. Life is constantly changing, for everyone.
I know how lucky I am for the turnaround I’ve had, and of course, this has contributed to my outlook on everything. Time has helped, but so has dumb luck, genetics, age, and maybe even my stubbornness — or whatever else you want to call it. My life has moved on from where it was when I was diagnosed. And even though I still may be sick, I’ve learned that sickness doesn’t always mean death. It means finding balance, learning how to adapt, finding ways to survive, and most of all, it means living.
I had several PH mentors who I turned to for support upon my diagnosis. All of them told me it would take time, but that someday, things would feel better. When they said this, I rolled my eyes, cried, and wanted to scream into a pillow. How could things ever feel better when my life felt so doomed? Wasn’t my life diagnosed as being over?
My PH mentors were right; it has taken some time, but things have slowly been getting better for the past few years. I purposely stayed oblivious to it, scared to tempt fate to pull the rug out from underneath me again. In fact, these past few weeks have been the best I have had in years, and I can’t deny how great things feel simply because of fear. I’ve learned that things aren’t over. Maybe I was given a second chance, and even though this isn’t what I would have picked for my life, I am going to grab onto whatever this is.
I know that rug may get pulled out from underneath me again — I feel the tug every time I go for my dreaded PH checkups — but I have to believe that I will learn to adapt and continue to not just survive, but to thrive. And in the same token, if there is a chance for chaos or disaster, I have to believe that there is an equal chance for miracles or beauty to unfold.
After all, I wasn’t sure I would be here to see my driver’s permit expire, and that is kind of a weirdly beautiful thing.
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