Truly Living with Pulmonary Hypertension in My 30s


The older I get, the more I relate on a spiritual level to Mike the Situation from “Jersey Shore” trying to force his head through a concrete wall in Italy. A few weeks before my 30th birthday, my PH specialist gave me the green light. He told me I was doing well and that I will probably be kicking for the next decade and hopefully beyond. Something in my gut told me this wasn’t right, so I stopped writing. I didn’t share the good news. Instead, I waited.

A few weeks after my appointment, my doctor called me back. My gut feeling was right: Some of my tests had shown that the PH is progressing … which is a nice way of saying my body is trying to kill itself again. It felt cruel to feel as if I finally had permission to feel excited about my life, only to have it ripped away again just a week before my 30th birthday. On the bright side, I have minimal symptoms of the “progression” and my doctor is optimistic about me bouncing back. So, even the bad news isn’t as bad as it could be.

Trying to be the girl with the most cake on my 30th birthday. (Courtesy of Serena Lawrence)

I had just started dating someone I met on Tinder, so I called him after receiving one of the worst phone calls of my life to try and have the “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but I am getting sick again, so we should break up, maybe …” call. I wouldn’t have gone on a dating app had I known this would happen. Maybe I was naive, but I really thought things were under control and would be for a while. And in my trend of not learning lessons, I still feel as if everything is going to be OK — eventually. I just have to get over whatever hurdle I am currently going through.

Instead of being met with fear, I was met with compassion and support. So, I ended up spending my 30th birthday in Toronto with someone I had only known for a few weeks. I know this sounds like the start of a “Dateline” episode, but it was actually really great. He was patient and kind with my special needs, so much so that I didn’t feel as self-conscious for being “different” or “disabled.” I ended up having such a remarkable time on our trip that I forgot about how scared I was about the metaphorical PH Boogie Monster rearing its ugly head again.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out with the person from Tinder, though we dated for several months. That should have been expected, considering how my 30s have been going. But at least my diagnosis didn’t play a part in our demise.

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