PHA UK member Shana Hindle was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension two years ago at the age of 45. This is her honest experience of looking for love with a chronic illness – and changing the course of her search…

At the point of being diagnosed with PH I had been single for three years and my main concern was not about finding a partner but accepting my diagnosis and dealing with the massive impact on my family, work and friends.

At the beginning it was just about dealing with the here and now. But as time went on, I accepted the illness and adjusted to it day-to-day, so a year ago I had a change of mind and thought I might be ready for romance.

I decided to dip my toe into online dating and as a novice, decided to try a free service first. It was a total waste of time and frankly scared me! I was that person who sent a picture of my cat when I was asked for a certain type of photo. The conversations were not what I was looking for and I promptly deleted my profile.

I then decided to have a look around Facebook for friendship groups. I found one local to me and spoke to a few men on there. Some were typical of single men of my age (they don’t know what they want!) but I confided in a few about my illness. I wanted to have the conversation early on and be honest and upfront.

I wanted to have the conversation early on and be honest and upfront

Unfortunately, initial responses included things like: ‘I am not wanting to look after someone who is ill’ or ‘My interest is walking and how can you keep up? I am not going to keep stopping’.

Someone told me he doesn’t date people that don’t work, and another asked me if I was ‘allowed’ to get sexually excited.

It’s difficult at my age too because men in my age bracket (with a pulse) want partners 20 years younger than them – I blame Leonardo DiCaprio! My milkshake stopped bringing the boys to the yard about 15 years ago.

I decided to move on to a different type of group which concentrates on bringing single people together for informal group meet-ups in places like coffee shops or pubs. The idea is that rather than looking for love, I am looking for companionship and letting something develop organically through that.

The group I found has a great mix of people and personalities. I find it very healthy and a positive step towards maybe getting into a relationship, at a pace that I’m comfortable with.

My advice to other single people living with PH is not to give up. I am not going to, but I’m going to look for companionship instead, in group dating / meeting settings.

Join people that have being single in common and you will find more understanding and tolerance.

Always be honest from the beginning. Explain it the best you can, don’t dress it down, and if rejection comes, don’t take it personally. It’s their problem, not yours. And it’s not you, it’s the illness.

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