Can I Have a Bit of Normalcy Without Fear?

Can I Have a Bit of Normalcy Without Fear?
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“I have watched fear change us. I have watched fear ride roughshod over our families, organizations, and communities.” – Brené Brown, “Braving The Wilderness.” 

In the above quote, lecturer Brené Brown was speaking about fear after 9/11. Lately, we are again learning to live in fear. We are inundated with the words “fear” and “panic” in relation to COVID-19. I intended to write about something other than the fear-driven response to this virus. But fear continues to make its way into my life.

I am more vulnerable.

Because of PH and my coexisting illnesses, it is no secret that I am more vulnerable to this pandemic. For this reason, I am self-isolating from my family and the general public.

If you read my column, you’ll know that I recently wrote about how I am losing it with social distancing. I continue to isolate myself, but I would like to go back to enjoying our families and loved ones while taking precautions without fear.

Seeing other humans outdoors was moving.

A few days ago, my husband and I took our usual drive around the lake. We pulled into a small park on the water. People were enjoying the park while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Signs were posted throughout the park in case anyone forgot. My excitement was evident — seeing other humans outdoors was moving.

As my husband grabbed my wheelchair out of the Jeep, I was surprised to sense my heart racing. He noticed that I was becoming nervous. The sun was starting to set, so he pushed me to the pier.

As he did, a man at the pier’s entrance was talking on his phone. I told my husband I hoped the man would move before we got there. He did, and we continued to the end of the pier, where we enjoyed a spectacular view of the setting sun and a slight breeze of cool air.

I relaxed some, but then a couple pushing a stroller with a toddler walked toward the end of the pier. I could sense my heart starting to race again. This was discouraging, and I thought, “Please stay on that side,” while offering them a smile.

This was not the only incident that frightened me. Two weeks ago, I was scheduled to have lab tests. I usually go every two weeks but hadn’t gone in several weeks. My nurse said it was time to be cautious and wear a mask. As I made the appointment, I looked forward to some sort of normalcy. Yet, the night before my appointment, I chickened out.

Fear crept in.

I thought about the germs and then the lab results. “What-ifs” kept popping into my head. For example, what if my labs are off and I need fluid, electrolytes, or something else? I’ve been admitted to the hospital several times because of these types of issues. Y’all, I was afraid of being hospitalized and catching COVID-19.

I have conquered bigger mountains. 

Although I needed to give myself pep talks, I made the appointment. Wearing my mask, which makes it more difficult to breathe, I eventually left for my lab appointment. I was nervous, but I have conquered bigger mountains, and I could do this, too.

All masked up and ready to go to the lab. (Photo by Jen Cueva)

To my surprise, when I arrived at the lab, the place was empty of patients. My girls were there and doing all that they could to help me feel safe. My medical team will be thrilled. Maintaining a good patient-doctor relationship is critical.

However, frustrations and confusion continue to fog my mind. I am so not this person. I am a people person who loves to interact, hug, and talk with those I meet. Because I have been living in my “bubble” for weeks, I am petrified that this will continue to happen the longer this self-isolation extends.

Brené Brown was right: Fear does change us. Will this fear-driven virus change me? Thinking about it, I remind myself of the struggles and fears that I have overcome. This serves as a reminder of my resiliency. I will continue to suit up and face these fears. I will not allow the current situation to cause fear and stop me from enjoying the people and things that I enjoy.

Have you experienced fear related to social distancing? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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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.

Jen Cueva is a “ well -seasoned” patient who has been living with pulmonary hypertension (PH) since 2005. Although her favorite place is Southern California, she now lives on the Texas Gulf Coast. She lives with her supportive and comical husband and their Mini Schnauzer named Sasha. Prior to acquiring pulmonary hypertension (PH), she worked in nursing, which she wholeheartedly loved. She enjoys cooking for her family, listening to live music, and sitting by the water. You can also find her visiting local coffee shops with her daughter(as she writes or chills) or at a medley of restaurants. She’s a total foodie! In her weekly column, ”Worth the PHIght ”, she delves into the rollercoaster of emotions that she faces living with PH. She hopes to share her challenges and tips while touching on current topics with other PH patients and their caregivers. Her goal is that by sharing her PH journey, she will inspire and instill hope in others. Together, eventually, we will find a cure for pulmonary hypertension- Never give up hope.
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Jen Cueva is a “ well -seasoned” patient who has been living with pulmonary hypertension (PH) since 2005. Although her favorite place is Southern California, she now lives on the Texas Gulf Coast. She lives with her supportive and comical husband and their Mini Schnauzer named Sasha. Prior to acquiring pulmonary hypertension (PH), she worked in nursing, which she wholeheartedly loved. She enjoys cooking for her family, listening to live music, and sitting by the water. You can also find her visiting local coffee shops with her daughter(as she writes or chills) or at a medley of restaurants. She’s a total foodie! In her weekly column, ”Worth the PHIght ”, she delves into the rollercoaster of emotions that she faces living with PH. She hopes to share her challenges and tips while touching on current topics with other PH patients and their caregivers. Her goal is that by sharing her PH journey, she will inspire and instill hope in others. Together, eventually, we will find a cure for pulmonary hypertension- Never give up hope.
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4 comments

  1. Ruby says:

    Jen,
    Your articles are always well written! I haven’t left my home in 7 weeks except to go for a ride with my hubby and to sit by my pool in my backyard. I guess what bothers me the most is not seeing my son and my 3 grandchildren and their parents. All are 7 hours or more from us. I’m paranoid about going into a gas station to use the bathroom. I just don’t want to be close to someone who is contagious and give it to someone in my family or catch it myself. Therefore, I’ll be staying home a lot longer. Thankful for my hubby! Feel sorry for people who live alone. I’m doing Bible Studies, reading for fun, calling some friends who live alone, doing adult coloring, and keeping up with people on Facebook. I miss hugs, being with friends, and going to church. Watching on tv just isn’t the same. I’m afraid this is going to be a long, long self quarantine.

    • Jen Cueva says:

      Hi Ruby Nan, thanks for always being so supportive while reading my columns. It has been peaceful to sit out back by the pool for me, too.

      I can relate to the pain being away from the kids. I am sure that with the grandkids, it is even harder on you. I think just keeping busy helps but never takes the place of visiting and holding our family members. It is such an uncertain time; that is why we fear so much. I pray every day that God will take care of my family friends and PHriends. Take care, sweet PHriend.

  2. Dena Curnow says:

    My adult daughter who lives alone has had PAH for 7 years. As she realized states were beginning to slowly open up she began thinking how she would “re-enter” into previous relationships. Her first step was to send me her boundaries – which if I did not keep, I would not be able to see her. Most were the basics which we had be following with everyone – hand washing, distancing, and masks. But then she asked me to keep a log on a calendar of all the places I have been in the past weeks so she can review it first before agreeing to a visit. She said it was her way of feeling safe. Are any of you making similar boundaries?

    • Jen Cueva says:

      Hi Dena,
      I can understand how your adult daughter must feel. It has been difficult for me during this pandemic. I have not seen my adult daughter for 2 months, and she lives within the area. She has done a quick “drive-by” from the street and waved. This has been a difficult time for our loved ones and us.

      I have not had anyone make a list of where they have been because I have only been around my hubby. I hope to see and hug my adult daughter soon. I miss that. I can see how frustrating and difficult for you. I think maybe give your adult daughter a little time as she, too, adjusts to yet another new normal after this pandemic.

      With my adult daughter, when we have concerns, I have found that the best is to discuss these and hopefully come up with a plan. I feel like in my family, I am more like you and want to see my daughter even if I need to wear a mask, etc. She is the over-protective one, and I am the patient. Try to remember that she loves you, and this is all new for everyone and scary.
      Thanks for reading.

      Kind regards,
      Jen

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