The Power of Words

Colleen Steele avatar

by Colleen Steele |

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Lately, I have been reflecting on the power of words. It started one sleepless night, as I wondered how often I have thought or spoken the words pulmonary hypertension since my son’s diagnosis. Even after his heart and lung transplant relieved him of that dreadful condition, not a day has gone by without PH crossing my mind or lips.

I cannot and should not stop thinking about the lives PH has taken and the growing numbers of children and adults fighting this illness. PH is more than a diagnosis or a disease. It is a silent stalker, thief, and murderer that will forever haunt the recesses of my mind.

Another word that has bothered me is “idiopathic.” Personally, I think it is an ugly-sounding word. Medical dictionaries define it as a symptom or syndrome that appears without apparent cause. My son was diagnosed with PH when he was 8. Despite numerous tests, my seemingly healthy son was experiencing symptoms that could not be linked to any medication, coexisting condition, environmental influence, or genetics. His frustratingly final diagnosis was idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.

This consumed my thoughts for years. It was inconceivable how he suddenly became symptomatic of an incurable and life-threatening condition. I spent many nights dreaming up theories to what caused his PH. I was worried that my son’s illness was somehow my fault. I desperately wanted proof that it was caused by something beyond my control.

Through prayers, reflection, and deep discussions with my husband, I managed to heal my mind from these dark thoughts. All those sleepless nights trying to find a reason turned out to be a search for an answer that was not there. Ultimately, even if I knew the cause, it would not change the outcome. My attention was better served by helping my son fight PH than dwelling on the reason he had it in the first place.

As it turned out, his PH being idiopathic was a blessing. The myriad tests searching for a cause helped rule out conditions that could have made him ineligible for transplant. When that was explained, I decided that maybe not knowing was not so bad after all.

This brings me to the word “blessing,” which has multiple uplifting meanings. Many believe it to mean God’s favor and protection, and it can also be a prayer. It describes something that you feel deeply grateful for or refers to a person’s sanction and support.

I think it is used too often, without thought or proper respect. It is a very personal word that I believe should be spoken with care. Someone I barely knew shared how blessed she felt having a healthy family when my son was so sick. I realize she meant well, and yes, she was blessed, but her use of the word made me wonder if it implied that my family was cursed.

Feeling angry and upset, I stewed over it for days until I had an epiphany. Not only am I blessed, but throughout my son’s illness and transplant experiences, I have become deeply aware of just how blessed I am.

Throughout the long ordeal of diagnosis, treatment, transplant, and recovery, I found myself relying on several more words. Beautiful words like “faith,” “hope,” “love,” “family,” and “friendship.” These words are life to me. Without them, I never could have found strength during struggle, happiness despite tears, and peace amid chaos.

When things have looked bleak, faith and hope have been the light in the dark guiding me to better days. I have been strengthened by prayer, and when too weak to find the words, others have prayed on my behalf. The love of family and friends has always been the foundation of my life. Without them I would have crumbled long ago.

I have felt peace over the years through the prayerful blessings of others. For example, there are no words that can describe how comforting it was to know that so many were praying for my son and our family on the day of his transplant. I honestly could feel our strength growing from the multitude of people praying for us.

Since then, I have made certain that I honor the words, “I will pray for you.” It is not just something I say for lack of words, but rather a conscious commitment to doing it.

The next time you have trouble sleeping, focus on one word that has special meaning in your heart. Be mindful of how you take that word for granted and try to use it more wisely. If the word hurts, think about how you can take away its power. Consider how that one word has possibly led you to words that bring you peace, so that you can sleep.


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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