My 2021 Reflections: It’s Been a Wild Ride

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by Jen Cueva |

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As another year comes to an end, I reflect on memories from 2021. Since my pulmonary hypertension (PH) diagnosis, I desire reflection more each year. Those of us with rare diseases often get caught up in the mundane moments of being a patient. Whether this means taking handfuls of medications around the clock, undergoing multiple tests, or attending myriad doctor appointments, it can become redundant. If we aren’t careful, it’s easy to survive only as a patient while missing out on the outside world and our little blessings.

However, this year was unique for my husband, Manny, and me. If I were to sum it up, I would say it’s been a wild and crazy ride, full of surprise blessings.

This time last year, I was beginning the long road to recovery from COVID-19. Manny and I both caught the virus and are thankful his case didn’t necessitate hospitalization. If you missed his story, he shared his experiences as a caregiver on day 23 of 30 Days of PH. Warning, Kleenex needed.

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Sharing My Struggles as I ‘PHight’ Through Recovery From COVID-19

Thankfully, we’re both doing much better medically than this time a year ago. We are beyond grateful for that blessing and many others. Gratitude is finding blessings amid the storms. Starting my day with a gratitude journal sets my mindset for the day. Yes, PH often takes over, and things can go downhill quickly. But I choose to find the blessings among the trials and tribulations.

Speaking of tribulations, we also experienced heartache with the loss of my stepfather, our cowboy, Tonyray. Then, the week of Thanksgiving, my grandmother, Mawmaw, lost her battle with dementia. Sadly, I could not attend her services, but her memories will live on in my heart. We continue to mourn the lives lost and cherish our memories with them, while celebrating those whose lives have just begun.

As I continued my recovery from COVID-19, Manny and I took a chance on our dreams and moved from Houston, Texas, to San Diego, California. We lived in San Diego as newlyweds when Manny was stationed there with the Navy. It’s where we’ve always found peace, joy, and adventure. While it was stressful planning for the move on short notice, we had always dreamed of moving back one day. Although this was only in October, I am grateful for the improved quality of life we have already noticed in our daily lives.

We chose to do this for ourselves. The pandemic has been extremely painful for us, but it has also reminded us that life is too short. After my PH diagnosis, we craved that peace and adventure, and knew we’d find it in San Diego.

Life with PH is a beast. But reflections remind us of the beauty within the beast that we may have missed. There is currently no cure for PH, and the treatments are costly. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. I’m grateful to have access to lifesaving medications and insurance that helps to cover the high cost. My chronic pain is daily but manageable, and I choose to persevere.

Nothing about PH is a given; I find that patience is essential. Yes, my patience is put to the test many days. This, too, is a blessing in disguise.

Some of you may have had a turbulent year. It’s OK if you can’t find blessings to reflect on right now. Please know that support is here if needed. We may not know what 2022 will bring, but we can still choose hope and continue this PHight together with gratitude, patience, grace, and love.

Happy New Year. See you all next year.

***

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.

Comments

Sally Hoffman avatar

Sally Hoffman

Jen, you said it all. You summed up all my feelings. Gratitude takes me through every day. "Normal" people don't understand about taking meds all day everyday. We often get a response like "Oh, I don't take any medication, except ????" Sometimes I feel like they are thinking "Boy she must be crazy to take so much stuff" They cannot know how much I appreciate all this expensive medication, that I hate taking. So now the year ends up with Roger and me isolating again. The latest dilemma is whether to brave the very long lines to see if we have Omicron. Roger had a headache (very rare for him) a few days ago, and I had a headache yesterday. Any other symptoms can be written off to usual stuff. So what happens if we don't get a test? We are isolating anyway because it is so contagious. Are we in more danger waiting on a line with hundreds even masked? All this craziness for a headache!
Happy and Healthier New Year to all.

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Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Sally, how are you and Roger feeling? I pray that it wasn't Omnicron, and both of you are feeling better this week. Yes, starting 202 with yet another variant is not a good feeling at all. Quite confusing and scary, indeed.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm grateful to know that you can relate to my writing. Most others have no idea what we deal with daily.

Please take care of each other. Thanks again for reading and your support.

Warm hugs,
Jen

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auntlizzie avatar

auntlizzie

Jen, my heart goes out to you and husband Manny. I have been more than lucky with my PH. It was diagnosed about 10 years ago as serious, and it still is, with very high pressures, so I am at risk if I get the dreaded lurgi. Yesterday, here in NSW Australia, our positive cases jumped from 6,000 to 11,200 in one day and I laughed when I heard this - I think it was hysterical laughter - LOL. Those numbers may not sound much to anyone living in the USA, but our population is only about 24 million, so it is bad. Husband Ron and I isolate as much as possible and every trip to the supermarket is fraught with danger, but we have to eat, eh? Anyone trying to get a PCR test these days has to queue for hours, and rapid tests are not to be had anywhere. After a belated Xmas lunch yesterday we both felt breathless, but a good cup of Turkish coffee fixed it - who knew? Too much champagne I guess. With love.

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Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Oh no, Lizzie! I'm sorry to hear of such an increase in cases in Australia. This is undoubtedly scary and a bit frustrating to start 2022. When we need to get out for food and other necessities, we do put ourselves at risk. But we have to have those items to survive. I hope and pray that you and Ron stay safe amidst this all.

Ahh, who would know that a strong cup of Turkish coffee would help? You needed that champagne, it sounds. Maybe you toasted to get rid of this pandemic this year. It's been going on for too long already. Take care of one another. Let us know how you're doing in the forums. I haven't seen you in some time.

Thanks for reading and your support, my PHriend.

Warm hugs,
Jen

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Grace Frank avatar

Grace Frank

Beautiful post, Jen, thanks for sharing this! Keep enjoying the adventure that is San Diego and life, Jen and Manny!

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Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Grace,
Thank you kindly for your thoughtful words and support. You are admired, my lovely friend.

I hope you and your family have started 2022 well—cheers to a healthier new year.

Kindly,
Jen

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Susan Collin avatar

Susan Collin

Jen, what a beautiful, heartful post!! First, thank you and Manny for his service to our country. Second, I was not very involved with PHN last year so I was not aware of your fight w/ Covid. I am so sorry you both went through it, but so glad you both are OK. Your articles and posts are always so helpful and inspiring. Thank you for all the effort you put into PHN - you made a difference for me in 2021, and I am sure in 2022. Glad you followed the dream back to San Diego and I bet your GRATITUDE journal is already filled with wonderful, sunny relections. Best, Sue

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Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Sue,
Thank you for such thoughtful words. YOu have inspired me and us all in the PHN forums. I'm so happy that you found us. I hope you and your hubby are doing well in FL and soaking up the sunshine.

Your words truly touch my heart. Thank you for reading and your contributions to the forums.

Warm hugs,
Jen

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Joe donofrio avatar

Joe donofrio

Thank You for your voice and encouragement. I am still mired in the sadness and loneliness of this diagnosis. But
Your words inspire hope.

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Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Joe,
I'm sorry about your recent PH diagnosis. I'm grateful that my column offered you hope. I was diagnosed almost 17 years ago. I'm also a forum moderator for PH News. I'm sharing a link there if you want to haven't yet joined. In the forums, we have many supportive members who have been through the sadness and loneliness you are experiencing or going through it now. It's certainly expected. We would love you to join us and hopefully decrease some loneliness.

We are here as you adjust to your new normal after this PH diagnosis. Thanks for reading and offering such kind words that I inspired hope.

I hope to talk to you more in the forums.

Kindly,
Jen

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