In addition to living with a rare and very serious disease, there are a host of accompanying issues. I became aware of how few resources are available to those living with pulmonary hypertension. So, I wondered, how can we empower patients with pulmonary hypertension to handle those issues?
As someone living with pulmonary hypertension (PH), I wish there were more resources available to me. I have heard from others living with PH that they wish more mental health resources were at their disposal. Often, we are diagnosed and sent on our way. Some PH centers do have mental health workers on staff, but it isn’t always required. Suddenly, regular routine check-ups become part of life, along with medications, medical equipment and other necessities.
When I was first diagnosed I had terrible night terrors. Each one had the the same theme. I was in the hospital, dying. I was having this nightmare because I had no idea how to tell the people in my life about my diagnosis. I barely knew how to handle it myself, let alone give the news to other people.
Living with PH is a big adjustment, and perhaps having a mental health professional available could help make the transition a little bit more manageable. At the very least, it would provide us a person with whom we could discuss our fears.
When we consider other life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, more and more research to help empower patients is becoming available. The data collected is allowing us to have a better understanding on what therapies patients can choose, in addition to conventional treatments, to help improve or prolong survival. Many cancer patients who incorporate complementary therapies in combination with their traditional cancer treatments may benefit from improved emotional well-being, along with a reduction in their symptoms.
Likewise, more cancer centers are starting to offer an integrative approach when treating cancer. Some hospitals are now offering rehabilitation services to help their patients through their treatments. By treating a patient beyond their diagnosis, patients are given practical tools to empower themselves. These multidisciplinary services help encourage exercise therapy, and teach the importance of stress management and nutrition. They also offer mental health and counseling services.
Empower beyond disease
Personally, I don’t want to be treated for PH in just conventional ways. I see myself as an entire being. I see myself beyond the disease, but I also see how intertwined the disease is with every other part of my body, physically and spiritually. I want more resources available to me in terms of incorporating complementary therapies. I have tried several alternative therapies, and it has been difficult. I feel like I often am trying things blindly because the data for PH and complementary therapies doesn’t exist as it does for other diseases.
We live in an age where we are gaining great insight into how certain things, like nutrition, impact our health and susceptibility of developing diseases. More data also is becoming available about the positive impact certain diets can have on health. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew more about what foods could help improve our health with pulmonary hypertension?
I find it so difficult to know what diet is right for me as I live with PH. There are so many different conflicting views on veganism, vegetarianism, and consuming dairy and meat (so long as its organic). I’ve done my research, talked to nutritionists, my doctors and naturopaths, and I still find it difficult to navigate to a decision.
I really wish more of these resources were available to us, along with data to support what could be beneficial for us to incorporate into our treatment. Treatment can go beyond the white walls in the hospital. I don’t want to sound like I’ve got my head up too high in the clouds, but I want more. I want to know the benefits of certain alternative therapies for people living with PH. I would like to know what super-foods are best for someone like me. I want to know what lifestyle changes can be the most constructive for what ails me. While I do go to the hospital and doctors more often than a “healthy” person, I want to know what I can do between doctors visits to keep me in the best shape possible.
I also think that having the knowledge about what could help us can empower us. It will give us the option to decide if we want to try a certain complementary therapy or practice. It will give us the choice on how to alter our diet. I know that many of us have those choices anyway, and we make them everyday. However, I would find it encouraging to know that more research has been conducted to find out what could help improve our chances of survival.
So many of us feel like we lost a lot of choices, and power, when we were diagnosed with PH. I think that having more of these choices backed by data would help remedy that. I would love to see the day when my pulmonary hypertension specialists prescribed avocados or meditation, for example, along with my regular treatments.
As someone living with pulmonary hypertension, what would help empower you?
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.