My Next Step in Recovery Is Taking a ‘Less Is More’ Approach

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by Jen Cueva |

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It’s no secret that the world is tough. When juggling its chaos, we often feel pressured to do more, and we quickly lose sight of what is most important.

With a rare disease like pulmonary hypertension (PH), we also battle symptoms and medication side effects. At times, it is overwhelming. We require a heck of a lot of energy to PHight and thrive daily. If like me, you need to be productive every day, keep reading.

There comes a time when we must make decisions and create boundaries to protect our psyche. During my therapy sessions, I am often challenged to set boundaries. As I recover from my last hospitalization due to COVID-19, my boundaries have changed. I’ve had to let go of things, including some relationships. 

My therapist challenged me to take a “less is more” approach. 

Because she knows I’m the type who needs to check off daily tasks on a to-do list, she has me focus only on three tasks each day. Once my three tasks are complete, I need to focus on self-care and rest. This is an ongoing battle between my mind and my body. During this time, I am learning to let go as I go with the flow. As you can imagine, it’s been a work in progress for this borderline Type A personality.

Following are some changes I’ve made to make my life easier:

Taking time off work and freeing up my schedule

Apart from my four medication alarms, my phone’s task alarms are turned off. Listening to my body and learning what it needs is most important right now. Many have asked why my recovery has taken so long. They have no clue what happened and what my fragile body just went through.

Ending the constant need for a clean house

During the early days of my recovery, my husband, Manny, and my caregiver usually completed the chores at home. Now, Manny is back at his job and working full time. Although I have let go of some of the chores, I have not let go of the guilt this change brings me.

Cooking is no longer necessary

The kiddos visited a few weeks back, and I usually cook for them. This time, we played board games, ate snacks, and had food delivered instead. The other evening, Manny cooked up some comforting soup. I savored our time together without too much exhaustion. 

Manny picks up prepped meals a few nights during the week to help with this. My Protein Grill is a local meal prep company that offers great flavors and extra protein without the prep and dishwashing. Soon I will be back in my kitchen cooking more often, but I realize that my recovery backtracks if I overdo it. So, “less is more” may stick with me.  

Protecting my social energy

Letting go of certain relationships has been one of the toughest things to do. Difficult relationships drain energy. My therapist refers to this as energy vampires. Cutting ties is difficult to do, but it’s for our protection, healing, and recovery. 

Investing in a medical alert device

Most people think of the elderly when they hear about medical alert systems. I resisted buying one for years because I thought it was a step toward losing my independence. However, I finally agreed with Manny to get one so that he could go to work. It was not only for me, but also for my family — they have greater peace of mind because of it.

My new Mini Guardian. (Photo by Jen Cueva)

We chose Medical Guardian. Their mini device is about the size of a Tic Tac box or key fob, so I can wear it as a necklace or on a clip, even in the shower. Pushing the button connects me to a person who then contacts an ambulance if needed. It also has GPS, so when I start driving again, I can pick up groceries or Starbucks. 

You can read more about medical alert systems here.

As y’all can see, I am working on letting go of my norm and trying this “less is more” approach in many areas of my life. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, I must work on these changes one day at a time.


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.


Butch Pope avatar

Butch Pope

I was told I had PHT about 3 years ago.
I was a symptomatic for the day I was
Diagnosed until
About 6 weeks ago . I lost
Most of my energy and not knowing much about the disease
Since I had been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome, which seemed to be cyclical, i would
Take modafinal or Armodafinal. These drugs would
Work and then stop. I was put on Ritalin for energy which worked. But probably made the PHT worse. I did not know I had PHT. I guess
I’m finished. I’m starting to feel short of wind at
Times. I have been sedentary due to Covid. I’m 77
And I was hoping I might get 5-6 years without
Symptoms. I would have been happy , my little
Grandchildren would know me and if I died, I died.
I never made it that far. I had a hip replaced in may.
Usually when I stop the drugs for energy I’m sleeping 18 hrs per day.
I did not have that in the hospital or when I got home
One day my body was dragging and I took provisions.
I never stoped and now I’m on ritalin again. When I
Stop taking that it won’t be easy. I cannot tell my wife, she’s of no
Support in this type of thing.
I would like to take that 6 min. Walk test to see if I
Can do 400 meters or moor. I doubt it. I walk slow
Always. Since I have this hip replacement, my balance is off too.
I’m scared and very sad. I know this disease is a death sentence.
Thank you for listening.


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