30 Days of PH: The Reality of Being a High-risk Teen During Lockdown

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by BioNews Staff |

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Evelyn Keltgen

Isolation from classmates during the pandemic was hard on Evelyn Keltgen. (Photo courtesy of Evelyn Keltgen)

Day 27 of 30

This is Evelyn Keltgen‘s story:

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a very difficult time for everyone, but it has been especially hard on teens in the high-risk category due to health concerns. I’ve had pulmonary hypertension (PH) my entire life, so I’ve never known anything different. I’ve always needed to be very careful about germs so that I don’t get sick.

When the pandemic first hit, I was in seventh grade. My eighth-grade year was by far the most difficult for me. My pulmonary hypertension put me in the high-risk category, so I stayed home from school and did virtual learning. Regular colds take a huge toll on me, as I’m usually sick for over a week, so I can’t imagine what COVID-19 would do to me.

During this time, I would sit at the computer screen and try to learn, even though it felt like most teachers had forgotten about me. I tried to stay positive, but it was hard for me to see my friends have fun without me. I couldn’t help but get irritated with myself. Why did I have to have pulmonary hypertension? Why couldn’t I just be “normal”? My mental health suffered.

Once life returned to some sense of normal, my mental health started to improve. It may have left me more socially anxious than before, but that can be worked on. Looking back on those years, I know I could have attended school, but staying safe at home was worth it.

My faith and family got me through those hard times. I am now 15, in 10th grade, and attend school in person. Things are good now, and life is mostly back to normal. Of course, I still need to be careful about germ exposure, but I go to a small school, so I no longer wear a mask while I’m there.

If you ever feel excluded from something because of your pulmonary hypertension, just remember that many others are going through similar things. You can always reach out to the PH community if you want someone to talk to who can sympathize with what you are going through. Just remember to stay positive, turn to your friends and family, and find strength in God if you’re a person of faith.

Pulmonary Hypertension News’ 30 Days of PH campaign will publish one story per day for PH Awareness Month in November. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPH, or read the full series.

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