Ways to Lighten the Weight of Expectations Around the House

Rebecca Lidenberg avatar

by Rebecca Lidenberg |

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Before I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension I was a real go-getter. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved a day in my sweats and a good Netflix binge as much as anyone, but I worked hard. I was a nanny and worked more than 50 hours a week, cooked every night, and easily kept up with household chores. I loved doing a good load of laundry and going grocery shopping.

When I got sick, I couldn’t even wash my hair. I could barely dress myself. Going to the grocery store became impossible. My husband and I lived off grilled cheese sandwiches, and anything that he could BBQ.

Over the past two years, I’ve improved, but I’ve had to accept that I’ll never be at my “pre-PH” level of ability. It was a hard pill to swallow. I wanted so badly to be able to take my pills, cut out salt, and bounce back to who I used to be. But it didn’t happen. And now, that’s okay.

So, today I’ve come up with a list of ways to make your life a little easier.

· Meal plan: There’s nothing worse than beginning to prepare dinner and realizing you have no food in your house. Going to the grocery store can be overwhelming and tiring. Every Sunday, I make a list of meals I plan to make that week. I write out every single ingredient, and include household items as well.

Take your time, move slow, and try not to forget things. (I forget things every single time, no matter how slow I go. My husband, Matt, runs to the store for me at least once a week, picking up one lone item.) Go to the store, and walk slowly. You’re not in a rush, friend!

· Meal prep: This one is just as useful. Bake and cut-up all your meats. Chop all your veggies. Sometimes I even measure and divide up my seasonings, and store them in ready to go Ziploc bags. Then all you have to do is dump it all together that night.

· Laundry: This one is tricky. It involved lifting heavy baskets, bending, going up and down stairs, etc. I usually have Matt bring the laundry basket downstairs before he leaves for work. I’ll take a day, or two, and slowly do a load. When it’s all done, I’ll pile it back in the basket and wait until he’s home so he can carry it upstairs for me. Do I wish I could do it all myself? Sure. Is that always reasonable or realistic? Nope. Adjust those expectations.

· Showering: Few things wear me out more than taking a shower. I do have a shower chair that I used. Now I tend to wait a couple of days between showers. It’s easier on my lungs, and better for my hair! Also, baths. Lifesaver.

· Sleeping: Get a wedge pillow. Seriously. They have them at amazon.com and they’re incredible. I used to just bunch up a pile of pillows, and slowly slide off of them by the middle of the night. Now I just have my wedge pillow, and it makes nighttime much easier.

· Cleaning: There are certain things I can do with no problems. Vacuuming is an easy one for me. Doing dishes, and loading them in a dishwasher? Much more difficult. So, I’ll do the sweeping and vacuuming, and I delegate the dishes to Matt.

This little list may seem silly, and some of it may seem obvious. But it has taken me a couple of years to remind myself that I can’t do it all myself anymore. I have to ask for help. I have to rely on people more than I’m used to, more than I ever did before.

My ego took a giant hit, but now I just keep reminding myself that I am worth more than how much laundry I can get done. At the end of the day, does it really matter that I need to ask for help doing dishes? No.

Pulmonary hypertension is a disease that seeps into every aspect of your life. But it doesn’t have to ruin your life. Just adjust those expectations, friends. Readjust your sails, and set sail.


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.


Sherry Sanford avatar

Sherry Sanford

I'm a PH patient and can relate to pretty much all the comments people make regarding the challenges we all face as a PH patient. I was wondering if anyone with PH has ever experienced eating and talking with people and all of a sudden feel as though you were going to faint. It's as though I have a sudden drop in my oxygen level.

C avatar


Not to the point of feeling like I'm going to faint - however both eating (and the diversion of blood to digestion for about an hour afterward) and talking a lot tend to bring on shortness of breath.


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