Giving Thanks Despite a Curveball

Jen Cueva avatar

by Jen Cueva |

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self-care and caregiving

Thanksgiving is almost here, y’all. Scroll through any social media channel and you’ll see people sharing their thoughts on gratitude. Daily reflection on the things I am grateful for is important to me. I keep a gratitude journal on my nightstand.

While writing this column, an unexpected event crept into our lives. I have been overwhelmed and somewhat numb for the past several days. Life does not slow down when living with a life-threatening illness like pulmonary hypertension (PH). But my family never saw this curveball coming.

My husband was experiencing odd symptoms. He had an episode at work more than a month ago that he didn’t mention to me, even though I worked as a nurse prior to my diagnosis. He reasoned that my doctors have said that adding stress to PH is bad.

He is a cyclist who rides 40 to 80 miles a week. Recently, he was carrying groceries when I noticed him stop to catch his breath. I knew something wasn’t right. He insisted he was OK, but admitted that he had stopped after 10 miles on his last two bike rides because his right arm was numb.

My wife and nursing brain kicked into overdrive. Without trying to freak him out, I told him that we needed to have him checked out by a doctor.

He agreed to see his primary care provider, who ordered an electrocardiogram and messaged a cardiologist friend of hers. Little did she know that she would save my husband’s life!

We saw the cardiologist that evening, and he sent us to the emergency room. A catheterization was scheduled for the next day. I prayed for clarity and that any major heart issues would be ruled out. I gave it to God, but I was terrified. I’m thankful that the kids were there to wait with me. I tried to distract myself by working on projects and writing. But my heart and mind were with him, my rock.

My husband had to have stents put in. The cardiologist told us that it was possible that he wouldn’t have made it another week without treatment. He was shocked that my hubby had managed a two-day bike ride in April. He said that with his age and demographics, he never would have guessed the blockages were that bad. The genetics on both sides of his family likely played a role. I tried wiping away the tears before my husband saw me feeling paralyzed.

I am beyond grateful for the care and concern from his doctors. And I am thankful for the kiddos, who dropped what they had planned to offer support.

When you are the “sick” partner and your partner is dealing with something massive, it can take a toll. I am thankful that I can perform my basic needs. Still, I count on him and the kiddos to be there when I need a helping hand. Others may require more care if one partner is out of commission.

My emotions have been all over the place. Anxiety, fear, devastation, shock, anger, and gratitude are still hanging around in my mind.

Marriage is teamwork, and the dynamics may change at any given time. When one partner is lacking, the other picks up the slack. Our goal is to live our longest and healthiest lives together, doing what we enjoy. Together, we will get through this.

Have y’all dealt with a sick partner? If so, please share your coping tips and thoughts in the comments below.


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.


Catalina avatar


I had a scare a few years ago with my hubby. Like yours, he didn't/wouldn't tell me what his PCP Dr had told him. But I knew there was something wrong. I made him give me the paperwork and when I read what it said, my jaw dropped. Thank GOD the specilaist was able to treat him. I know when he isn't feeling well. His voice changes. I don't mean a change like when you get a cold or sore throat. He sounds really different. They take care of us and tend to forget about taking care of themselves. I'm glad and relieved that your hubby was able to get the help he needed right away.

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Cathy,( Moma Hen),
This certainly can be a scary situation. As you mention, our hubbies are our caregivers. They do often neglect to take care of themselves. They often need reminders that if they do not take care of themselves first, they cannot take care of us. We are both blessed with awesome caregivers and I know like myself, you thank God daily for yours, too.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family.

Beth DeCristofaro avatar

Beth DeCristofaro

Jen, thank you for sharing this with us. Not a partner but I recently had a curveball thrown at me and my 89 year old mom who lived with us. Mom died in September and my stress level was out the roof. At times felt ill myself. She began failing about 7 months before although nothing was diagnosed. She underwent successful treatments for skin cancer during the last year which were hard on her but there was no “reason” for losing weight. She experienced increasing confusion so I began to hide my own care (prep and maintaining my IV Remodulin needs) because they disturbed her, a retired RN. My coping included daily walks, letting go of lower priority housework, and strategically relying on friends and family as I had never done before. Also I carved out early a.m. time for silence and prayer. I also began home health assistants for her long term needs which ultimately were very short term. My mom suffered a TIA with a two day stay in the hospital which was frightening for her although she recovered her speech. I requested hospice and two weeks later my mom, Katharine, died peacefully with my adult daughter and I at her side. There is a peace to our sadness and I continue my coping in grief by limiting demands - especially during these holidays - walking, meditation, and resting. And I’m taking the time to laugh with those I love. Happy Thanksgiving and Good Health to you, your husband and family.

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Beth, I am sorry to hear about the loss of your Mom. I know that the holidays will certainly be tough this year for you. My hubby lost both of his parents last year. It is going to be tough but we will be grateful for our family and the memories of our loved ones who have gone before us.

It certainly can be a curveball when anyone in our family is sick, especially when dealing with PH and other health issues. I agree that having those coping mechanisms and breaks are much needed. As caregivers, we often neglect self-care which can cause added stress to our bodies. I appreciate that you took the time to share your tips.

Thanks again and I hope that you and your family can enjoy the holidays while thinking of the great memories that you had with your mom.


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