“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” — Albert Einstein
After I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH), I wanted to live my best life. But because of waxing and waning symptoms, I haven’t pushed my boundaries as much.
I have yet to bounce back after several traumatic hospitalizations. It is almost like those setbacks took the wind out of my sails. Was this a learned reaction or a result of age?
My little family engages in physical activity that tests their strength and boundaries. I usually cheer them on from the sidelines, amazed at their strength. If I’m a bit peppier, I push myself. But then I pay for days. These setbacks often deter me from pressing more.
Since my diagnosis in 2005, I have met many inspiring and unique people who live with a rare disease. Want to see resilience? Please get to know some of the incredible beings who continue to PHight despite their struggles. The kids are some of the strongest. While it breaks my heart to hear their stories, they inspire me to PHight harder each day.
One young woman, Britt, was born with congenital heart disease and developed PH. She has been through more in the few years I have known her than I have in all of my 40-something years.
Britt’s social media posts and updates inspire me to push harder. She is a Pulmonary Hypertension News columnist, which is how I learned about this website. You can read her column, “Recharged and Rewired,” to learn more about her.
I debated buying an electric bike for a while, but fear and negative thoughts clouded my mind. One of the biggest issues was the cost. Because I am my husband’s “Million Dollar Baby,” I’m not particularly eager to spend much on myself.
Last week, I finally selected one. Yep, I am the proud owner of a shiny, new, beautiful e-bike. After the first ride, my husband, Manny, remarked, “It is already worth every cent.”
Jen and Manny on their first ride together. (Courtesy of Jen Cueva)
Given the chaos in the world, this was not as easy as one would think. Everyone is buying bikes. But I was fortunate, and we found one within an hour’s drive. Don’t fret, I have a bike helmet, too — safety first, or third, as my son-in-love says.
For those who do not know, my husband, Manny, cycles, and now we can enjoy rides together. I cannot begin to explain how surreal this is for me. Of course, I am far from his level, but our few rides thus far have felt almost magical. I usually use a wheelchair for distances, so this is simultaneously exciting and frightening.
Suited up with my backpack carrying my oxygen, I’m ready. E-bikes offer pedal assist, which includes a throttle. The first day, we rode almost four miles! The weather was beautiful, and the nature trails were picturesque. I didn’t experience any problems falling asleep that night. I slept hard, which is a struggle for me most nights.
Our most recent ride was at the Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center. Last year, I sat on a blanket by the play area and read books while my husband rode. He said he wished I could see what he did. On Saturday, his wish came true. Riding with the cool breeze of wind against my face and taking in the spectacular nature was profound.
An e-bike may not be for everyone, but I am excited to continue building up my strength. I hope this column will inspire some of you to push your boundaries a bit.
Of course, I discussed this with my medical team. At first, they were not fully on board. But then I approached e-biking as physical exercise and agreed to listen to my body. We don’t know how long we have left, but I plan to enjoy life and ride as long as my body permits.
A shoutout to my family, PHriends, and friends who inspire me by always setting the bar high. You are the true heroes. Words cannot express my love and appreciation for your support.
It certainly takes a village. Without y’all, I wouldn’t have the courage to push through and try new things. Remember: We have PH, but PH does not have us.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.
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