Be a Good Friend to Yourself

Be a Good Friend to Yourself

Being diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis is not for the faint of heart

It is a rough road full of fears, losses and unknowns. Being a good friend to yourself makes this difficult journey a little easier. Hi, I’m Kim Fredrickson, and it is an honor to write this column from a patient’s perspective. I invite patients, caregivers, family members, physicians, and friends to walk this journey together.

d87dbd0122f8a05f8c93e6576ea24dfaEach of us has our own unique story. Here’s mine

In July 2013 I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. I finished treatment after 8 months and breathed a sigh of relief. Then an even bigger life-altering and serious health crisis ensued. Four days after I finished radiation, I noticed I couldn’t take a deep breath. After lots of medical tests, I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in May 2014, a rare side effect from chemotherapy and radiation. In July 2014, I went on supplemental oxygen 24/7 and closed my counseling practice of 30 years soon thereafter.

It’s been a rough road getting used to all of this … lots of up and downs, tears, disbelief and trying to adjust. Of course, this cycle repeats itself with each new loss. I am determined to use this for good and to, hopefully, bless others as I walk this journey. Being able to write this column is a huge blessing to me, and I hope it will be to you as well.

I have found that being a good friend to myself on this journey has made a huge difference to me

It eases the losses and fears I experience when I am able to treat myself with the kindness and compassion I would give a friend. My patient column will reflect this as I:

  • Provide practical ideas to help you care for yourself on this PF journey.
  • Help you fight for what you need (O2, doctors, insurance, tests, medication, etc.). I am a bulldog, and don’t give up … boy, I’ve got some stories to share, and skills to pass on.
  • Teach you how to talk to yourself with kindness and compassion about what you are going through.
  • Share skills for processing your many-layered emotions, and help with ongoing grief and fear.

This is such a hard road and we’ve never been through this before

In addition, just when we figure something out, it changes. The loved ones in your life have never done this before either, so I hope there is encouragement here for them as well.

Most of us get down on ourselves for the struggles, difficulty adjusting, and discouragement we face. It is normal to wish we handled things better, but unfortunately that makes us feel even worse. Let’s learn together how to be a compassionate friend to ourselves.

It is my desire that this column be a place we can share ideas, skills, tips and compassionate hearts on this PF journey. I know there are many diagnoses that come under the PF umbrella. All are welcome here.

So many of you have more experience and wisdom than I do

I look forward to hearing from all of you. At the end of each post, please take a look at the questions I include. I’d love to have you share your thoughts, perspectives, and experience. I have so much to learn, and my hope is that we will bless one another. Please share with any other PF warriors or sites you think would benefit.

Thanks for joining me for my very first column of Just Breathe: Compassionate Help for the PF Journey!

Questions to Ponder. Please comment below if you’d like to:

What do you think about the idea of being a good friend to yourself as you live with PF?

What ways are you already a good friend to yourself? When is it the hardest?

What topics would you like me to cover?

What else stood out to you in this post?

Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis 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 Fibrosis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.

 

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15 comments

  1. Carol Goddard says:

    I too loved your column, I live in the UK so am lucky enough not to have to fight for any treatment, our National Health Service has been good to me so far. I was diagnosed in March 2015 with Interstitial Lung Disease – up to then I had always had a parrot and several budgies. My consultant felt this was the cause of my ILD, sad to say I no longer have a budgie but do have 2 dogs. Having the dogs means I walk everyday for an hour – hour half, I am sure this keeps me well. Yes I get breathless at times but do love the morning walks watching the sunrise and the sounds of nature waking another day. Keep strong PF friends, I do not know you personally but share your struggle which binds us together across the pond.

    • Carol,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m so glad you are able to go out on walks with your dogs in the morning. I could feel the joy and beauty you soak in every morning…and am so glad for you. So appreciate your well wishes and the ways we can support and encourage one another, all over the world 🙂

  2. Charlene Hymel says:

    I think I will enjoy your column. I look forward to sharing the journey with others going through the same thing: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. I do think we need to our own best friend without feeling guilty or selfish. Two things I will share that I do are (1) never hesitate to ask for help. This could be in a store where I need help reaching an item or calling my children or grandchildren. For example I have called my grandson, who lives 10 minutes away, to come help me unload the groceries from my car or carry heavy items upstairs. Many people would see this as a huge imposition on their grandson. I see it as he is big and strong and able to help. I do not call often but if I need help I ask. (2). I decided I will not feel I have to attend all events I am asked to or do activities I don’t enjoy. Just today I did not go to the local high school play with my daughter. In the past I would have gone but not any more. I did not want to lug my oxygen around, I did not know any of the students and I wanted to avoid any germs. I stayed home and worked on a puzzle. When my daughter came home she said the play had not been too good. I was glad I stayed home. Asking for help and not going places when asked is fairly new to me but they make my life better for me. I am being good to myself.

    • Charlene,
      Thanks so much for sharing. I love the ways you are taking care of yourself. Asking for help is such an important way of being a good friend to yourself, and gives others a way to bless us too! I totally agree about giving yourself the freedom to not go to an event if it will be too taxing, or expose you to germs. There is no way others can understand just how tiring it is to get around with oxygen. But you know, and you are being good to yourself! What an inspiration you are for all of us. Thanks for sharing such concrete examples.

  3. Marcia says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey! My partner of 20 years was diagnosed with PF as a result of her radiation that cured her cancer in 2004.

    This journey is difficult but together the community can help make this load lighter.

    • Marcia,
      Thanks so much for sharing with us. I’m so sorry to hear that your partner got PF from radiation. She is blessed to have you by her side. I so agree that the support of the PF community helps so much. This is why I am so grateful to write this column…patients and caregivers understand all the challenges as well as the unique ways we can empathize and support one another. So glad to have you here. Please send my best wishes to your partner.

  4. John says:

    I’m looking forward to reading more about your journey Kim and what you have learnt along the way. I was diagnosed with IPF Oct 2015, during IPF week, which was a nice touch! I find that a good/quirky sense of humour is an important factor when dealing with the various aspects of the journey! On a more sobering note my father passed away from IPF a number of years ago and my sister has a possible similar diagnosis, so it is hard to avoid the obvious genetic dimension. Despite this I do manage to remain positive and I do what I can to keep current with research and clinical trials, a number of which I’m participating in at the present time. I’m also involved with an ILD Support group, which I helped to set-up at my local hospital with the help of both patients and HCP and which is a great support. There is still so much to learn and we (both patients and health professionals) need to continue to do our bit in raising awareness of these little known but devastating collection of repertory conditions. Best wishes Kim in your endeavour.

    • Hi John,
      Thanks so much for your warm welcome and sharing about your own diagnosis and family history. Wow, that is very sobering. I’m so glad you shared how important it is to have a healthy sense of humor. I find this helpful as well. I love your determination to be positive — that is inspiring to all of us. What a blessing you are to yourself and so many others starting an ILD support group at your local hospital. That is so wonderful. It does help to talk with others who truly understand, and we all have so much to share and learn. So glad to have you here!

  5. Richard Wells says:

    Hopefully this may help other iPF patients. When you have this condition, you begin to experience more tiredness when trying to do things such as:
    Walking – I have found it to be beneficial by doing my daily walk at my local grocery store. I grab a grocery cart, put my portable oxygen machine in the basket and make my two to three trips around the whole store. I have made many friends that work at the grocery, that will talk to me and most of all be there if I have a problem. I can also find food sales.
    Exercise – I go to the local YMCA every other day and get some weight training to help keep me strong. Again, you make friends with the staff and other members who will all help me if I have any problems. Do what your body will allow, anything is better then nothing.
    Showers – I always wear my oxygen hose into the shower and only take it off when washing my face and hair. I also have my cell phone next to the shower in case I have any problems.
    All three of the above will differently tire you out, but do it at your own pace. Never be in a hurry and do not be afraid to try anything. You will learn to live with IPF. I am starting my fifth year as an IPF patient, and was diagnosed as a advanced stage patient. Never give up, there is always tomorrow to look forward to ????

  6. Ann Weaver says:

    Hi Kim, I look forward to following your blog and learning how people are handling their PF. I am the youngest in a family of five children. Three of my siblings have died from IPF, and my surviving brother just recently learned that, after taking his annual breathing test, his oxygen level has slipped to the range of mid-50% from mid 60s a year ago. He is 73 and has accepted that he is on the IPF path, although not yet having to use an oxygen machine. I am the youngest, a long-time smoker (quit 2 1/2 years ago), am 67, but have not been diagnosed. Yet. Generally I’m in pretty good health, but realize how easily that can change. Learning more about how people are coping with it will certainly be helpful. Thanks to everyone for sharing.

    • Hello Ann,Thank you so much for your comment and sharing your story. I am so sorry to hear how strong PF is in your family. Wow…I am so sorry. Blessings to you and your brother. So glad you will be following my blog as we all learn from one another how to best cope and embrace the time we have. So glad you shared with us!

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