Despite PH, I Continue to Set and Achieve Goals

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by Jen Cueva |

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It’s no secret that life turned upside down for my family and me when I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH) in 2005. But my life was far from over; I still craved so much. My chronic illness may prevent me from achieving goals I once had, but I can still create and accomplish new goals. My family has made adjustments over the years to help me pursue my dreams.

When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t sure I’d live to see my daughter, Kayla (whom we call KK), get married. It became a new goal. Now, one of my precious milestones is attending KK’s wedding in 2019. It was an honor to be there for her special day. Words can’t describe how gorgeous she was — the princess she and I had always dreamed of.

Another pre-PH goal was to work in nursing, a career I dearly loved until I retired. BioNews, the publisher of this website, saved me and gave me a sense of pride and passion several years ago. Although I had to leave my nursing job after my diagnosis, BioNews has given me a way to help others. It’s my pleasure to help moderate the forums and write this column for Pulmonary Hypertension News.

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Last October, my husband, Manny, and I took a chance on our dreams and followed our hearts to San Diego. We had put this vision on hold for years because of many factors related to my PH. But finally, we took the leap and moved from Texas to California. Living in San Diego has improved my breathing and our overall quality of life.

achieving goals | Pulmonary Hypertension News | Jen and her husband, Manny, smile aboard a hot air balloon as they fly over San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.

Jen Cueva and her husband, Manny, celebrate their 30th anniversary with a hot air balloon adventure in March. (Courtesy of Jen Cueva)

In March, Manny and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. (Yeah, I know, I was 9 years old when we married. Hee-hee.) It’s been a PHight to stay alive at times over the past 17 years, so this was not an anniversary we expected to reach. We celebrated with a hot air balloon ride overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a surprise he planned for me, out of love, because he is afraid of heights. Love conquers all and makes us do crazy things.

When I was younger I loved to travel and go on adventures with my family. PH makes it complicated and risky to travel by plane, and traveling during a pandemic is even more stressful.

At the end of March, I flew alone for the first time since being diagnosed. In other flights, Manny had always been with me. I think he was more stressed about my solo flight than I was. I traveled with my portable oxygen concentrator (POC), wheelchair, a backpack full of medications, and extra batteries for my POC, and I made it with only a few hitches and anxiety medications. I’m grateful for those who supported me and reminded me that I could do it.

PH alters our lives, but we continue to create goals and dreams. Achieving even the tiniest of victories can boost our morale and self-esteem. It takes courage to dream big with PH, but never doubt yourself. If I had given up 17 years ago after my diagnosis, these dreams probably never would have come to fruition.

Our health often controls our lives. We must learn that we can still control some things, such as our mindset or our goals. Establishing and accomplishing small goals is possible. At times we may need to take a step back and reassess our goals. That’s part of life. But going slow and changing directions is OK, as long as we keep going.

What do you say? Are you ready to define your goals, despite living with PH, and conquer your dreams? There’s no better time than now to begin. Let’s do it. We all need support and encouragement, and I’m here, ready to walk beside you every step of the way.

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.


Debbie Moore avatar

Debbie Moore

How encouraging you are! New goals are a fabulous idea to pursue instead of looking at what you can't and changing it to what you can! Thanks for such an uplifting article.

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Debbie, I'm delighted that you found my column uplifting! New goals are something that we can continue to do. Although they may be adapted at times, we can work on making goals that work best for our new lives with PH. Thanks so much for your kind words and for reading my column.

Take care, my PHriend.

Vicky Olsen avatar

Vicky Olsen

I enjoy your articles! You are a longterm survivor which makes me hopeful for myself. Over the winter, my husband and I were in Puerto Vallarta for 6 months and felt quite good there. I had my cardiac ultrasound sixweeks before our trip in September. My cardiologist said for me to see him in May. Now, his receptionist says they are still seeing patients from February and she will call me. My rvsp is 39.7. Time is going by quickly. The elevation where I live is 3900 feet. I am short of breath when I move around. My feet are swollen and they never were before. My arms, hands, legs and feet are aching all the time except when I am in bed. Should I start being the patient from hell or do you have any other suggestions? Thank you.

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Vicky, your comment about being a "patient from hell" has me laughing. I call that being your advocate, speaking up, and letting them know what you need. Can your cardiologist call in a state order, so they move you to the top of the list and see you sooner? I would start there.

Altitude certainly does impact PH symptoms as well as weather and stress. I'm sorry that you're experiencing such breathing difficulties and swelling. Both of which could be PH symptoms. You could move to Puerto Vallarta and feel better, hehe.

Also, if you want to communicate with many of us with experiences with PH, join us in the PH News forums. I co-moderate the forums and would love to have you join us. You can set up an account by answering a few simple questions. Here's that link, if you're interested.

Thanks so much for reading my columns and for your kind words. I hope to see you around in the forums.


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