Voices from the UK's pulmonary hypertension community
Paula Hartley, 52, lives in Sheffield and was diagnosed with PH in 2007. She chose not to follow shielding guidance or have a vaccine.
“I was frightened at the beginning because they were saying that people with underlying conditions may not get ventilators in hospital, but as time went on, the more I listened the news, some things just didn’t add up for me. From then on, I decided I was just going to do what suited me.
My thinking was that if it was as bad as they were saying, I could get taken anyway, so I approached it in the same way as my PH – live my life to the full while I can and take the consequences of whatever comes.
I went out all the time after the first two to three weeks of the first lockdown.
We didn’t see anyone we thought we might jeopardise, but I saw my sister and my granddaughter because my daughter is a single parent. She was working all the way through, so we had to look after her.
I didn’t wear a mask because I’m claustrophobic; I did try a couple of times, but I had panic attacks. My husband did wear a mask when he needed to, and he would do shopping for half the street.
We were careful, but we didn’t want it to take over our lives because you never know how long you’ve got.
We decided that whatever was out there, we just had to live with because you don’t know what’s around the corner. Having PH has taught me that.
The pandemic hasn’t impacted my mental health becaue I haven’t let it.
We quite enjoyed the first part because the weather was glorious; we had breakfast in the garden every morning, and we got stuff done in the house. I think if you’ve got a clean house, you’ve got a clean mind. It felt really good.
After that first lockdown, we didn’t take any notice of anything that was said and went everywhere.
If we’d not disobeyed the restrictions in the other lockdowns I think my mental health would have taken a bad turn.
We never shielded, and even when we weren’t supposed to see people, we would see close family.They would come to us for takeaways, or we would go to theirs.
We all made a decision to be there for each other and not let it get us down. We didn’t talk about it; we didn’t let it rule us.
I’ve not watched the news since the first month of the pandemic. After that, I decided never to watch it again. It’s done a massive disservice to people as it’s all been doom and gloom.
I made a decision not to have a vaccine, for a few reasons.
When they first came out, one of the first things we heard was that we couldn’t sue the government or the NHS if anything went wrong with them. I’ve trialled drugs and I know the protocol it has to go through, so it wasn’t good that the very first thing they said was that you couldn’t sue them.
I then didn’t like all the scare factors they started coming out with, ramming it down your throat to try and force you to have it.
The pandemic seems to have done a weird thing to people. They won’t believe anything except what they hear from the BBC or the government. They are petrified.
I still see people now masked and gloved up and I think ‘how long can you carry this on for?’ I know that everyone’s situation is different though.”
~Paula told her story to the PHA UK in the summer of 2022~
Life is short, and that is exactly what the last couple of years have shown us
The lack of control is probably what I struggled with most
I wasn’t willing to go back to work and put her in danger
Every corner I turned during the pandemic was scary, but my specialist centre gave me hope