How hosting Thanksgiving dinner is similar to managing PH

Both require careful planning and preparation, a columnist explains

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by Jen Cueva |

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Have you ever considered the surprising similarities between managing pulmonary hypertension (PH) and hosting Thanksgiving dinner? Like hosts who plan and prepare an elaborate holiday feast for their guests, PH patients must plan and coordinate the many aspects of their care. Both require a constant juggling act.

Preparing Thanksgiving dinner involves multiple tasks, such as grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and organizing seating arrangements. Similarly, managing PH involves an extensive to-do list. As patients, we must carefully plan daily activities based on our symptoms and abilities, refill medications and administer treatments, and schedule doctor appointments.

Of course, extra spoons are needed for both. (Those with chronic illness often have limited “spoons” — a metaphor for energy.)

And we can’t forget the sides! While PH may bring issues like shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and fatigue, a turkey dinner is often accompanied by stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and cranberry sauce. Those holiday extras are far more delightful than the PH ones.

In addition, PH and Thanksgiving dinner can both lead to stress and anxiety. With PH, we worry about symptoms and potential complications, while hosts stress about cooking the perfect meal and ensuring everything goes smoothly. However, just as support from loved ones can make a difference for those of us with PH, Thanksgiving hosts can seek help from family and friends to alleviate the stress.

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This Holiday Season, Share Kindness and Gratitude

Bringing people together

The hustle and bustle of the holidays often takes center stage, but what truly matters is spending quality time with loved ones. While my husband, Manny, and I are no longer near my extended family after relocating to San Diego, we’re grateful to have our daughter, Kayla (aka KK), and Manny’s sister and her family close.

Since my first struggle with COVID-19 a few years ago, I’ve come to appreciate more laid-back holiday seasons. Don’t get me wrong, I still cherish family traditions and indulge in delicious Thanksgiving food. However, as I’ve grown older and dealt with long-term effects of COVID-19, including brain fog, increased anxiety, and memory loss, I’ve learned the importance of taking it easy and not becoming overwhelmed.

Similarly, PH has taught me that quality time with my loved ones is the most important thing year-round. I’ve learned to focus on what’s essential, even during celebrations.

But the most powerful commonality is the sense of community. Just as Thanksgiving dinner brings people together, those of us with PH have formed a supportive community of people we can lean on. By connecting through support groups and online forums, we’re able to find comfort and understanding among others who truly get it.

Can you think of other ways PH and Thanksgiving are similar? Let’s keep the discussion going!


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.

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