Has my PH diagnosis made me a better or worse friend?

How I'm improving my communication skills as someone with PH

Jen Cueva avatar

by Jen Cueva |

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Over the past few months, I’ve asked myself several times if I’ve become a better or worse friend, but I didn’t know the answer. When pulmonary hypertension (PH) makes me feel my worst, I worry I’m a bad friend. I can’t spend as much time with people as I’d like or once did. My time and energy go to managing my health, resting, or doing whatever my body needs.

Too often, I must cancel plans or miss important events due to PH symptoms or medication side effects. When this happens, I often feel guilty as I lie on the couch, out of commission. Not everyone will understand and remind me that my health is the priority, but those who do are true friends and dear to my heart. Words can’t express my gratitude for these special loved ones.

I recently asked my friends the question I’ve been asking myself: Does PH make me a better or worse friend? Their answers surprised me.

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The value of learning how to live in the moment with PH

Improving my communication skills

Several friends shared that I’m a better friend because I value life and relationships more. However, they also noted that I struggle at times to communicate my needs. That’s not necessarily a sign of a bad friend, but it can affect every type of relationship — marriage, friends, family, and so on. As I shared in a 2020 column, PH has changed me and my relationships in profound ways.

I realized I need to work on my communication skills, such as expressing my needs and being more open. That will enable me to build stronger relationships and increase the likelihood of me having positive interactions. Providing constructive feedback and addressing any issues are also essential in any relationship. Maintaining balance helps to ensure mutual respect.

In addition, staying self-aware and mindful of my actions and words is important. I need to work on understanding others’ perspectives while remaining true to myself. Recognizing how I feel in a particular moment helps keep me grounded.

Taking a step back to assess a situation before speaking or acting can also be helpful. Too often, I’m quick to talk too much, which can confuse others. My intentions aren’t always clear.

I’m working to become a more effective communicator in all aspects of my life. Part of that is practicing active listening — paying attention to what a person is saying and how they’re feeling. Listening allows me to better understand and empathize with their perspectives.

Developing better communication skills is an ongoing challenge that takes practice and patience. Following are a few strategies that have helped me strengthen my relationships as someone with PH:

  • Make sure I clearly articulate what I want from someone and why.
  • Communicate clear expectations about how I want to be supported and what that looks like.
  • Allow myself and others to ask nonjudgmental questions and provide input.
  • Know when it’s best to take some alone time so I don’t overwhelm anyone else with my emotions.

Remember that being open and honest can be a great way to build trust and connect. It takes courage, but it’s worth doing if you want meaningful relationships. Enough practice will help us feel comfortable sharing our feelings openly and authentically. It’s an ongoing process. Creating an environment of mutual respect takes time, but it’s very rewarding when achieved.

Overall, I believe I’m a better friend since my PH diagnosis. I’ve experienced moments of strength and understanding that have benefited me and the people around me. I strive to talk honestly without fear of judgment, making it easier for my friends to help me. That lets them know I trust them and care enough to share my struggles.

Are you wondering if you’ve become a better or worse friend after a PH diagnosis? Share your 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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


Valerie Romero avatar

Valerie Romero

Thank you for this article. I have found myself trying to explain to my friends and family that there will be days when I cannot join them for various functions. I never know how I will be feeling. I tell them I will be there and unexpectedly I just cannot do it.
I have had friends think that I just do not want to participate with the group and that is not the case at all.
They know I am sick and have multiple health issues. I have good days and really bad days. The bad days are mostly caused by me over doing chores when I feel some what better. It has been a balancing act. As the years go on I am finding it is getting harder for me. I don't want to lose friends, It is just a matter of them understanding my medical problems and just understanding I am not who I used to be. Be patient with me.

Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Valerie, I'm grateful you found this piece about friends beneficial. Too often we do end up losing "friends" because they can't relate and that stinks!

I can certainly relate to overdoing it and pushing my body on feel good days. Then it's like I crash and burn a few days. You are not alone, Valerie. Your true friends will stick around and the others , well maybe they were only meant to be in our lives for a season.

Patience, as we both know is not easy. But patience and grace is needed.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment, my PHriend. It means more than you know. <3


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