Loving Your Job Has Added Purpose When You Have IPF

Loving Your Job Has Added Purpose When You Have IPF

younger than 30

In most of my conversations with people who also have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a painful loss they have experienced as a result of their disease is no longer being able to work. Some people have to stop working altogether, while others have to reduce their hours from full-time to part-time, or modify their duties in order to manage their daily tasks at work while also struggling to breathe.

When I speak to people who share this, most are upset they no longer can work; it is just one more painful loss that has resulted from their diagnosis of IPF. I cannot imagine the pain these individuals feel, and although my day to stop working may come, it is one of my greatest fears because my job is so much more than just work.

To have IPF and love your job means so many different things. It means knowing that each day you have a purpose; that your life is not just defined by your illness and new limitations. It means that in the morning, you have somewhere to go and something to do that is meaningful. When I struggle with pain or fatigue in the morning, it is my job that makes getting out of bed easier and worthwhile.

In my particular career, loving your job means meeting new people, hearing new stories and creatively working out a plan that fits their needs and provides them with some relief. I am privileged to see joy, relief and excitement on the faces of families that I work with every day. It never gets old.

That is what it means to love your job with IPF. It also means being happy to complete meetings with families or with colleagues that are sometimes repetitive, but enable you to embrace the unique differences in each family’s or individual’s lives. Loving your job with IPF also means that you get a glimpse into the lives of others, which often acts as a subtle reminder that everyone has struggles and that sometimes the problems we face aren’t as big as we think in comparison to those around us. When living with a life-threatening illness such as IPF, this is an important reminder from time to time.

Loving your job with IPF also contributes to feeling supported, loved and safe. My colleagues and their many talents and gifts inspire me to try new things each day. Their trials, tribulations and successes remind me how lucky I am to be part of a team of people that truly cares for and supports one another.

Loving your job with IPF means that I get to encounter these people every single day, and that I can draw upon that caring and support to carry me through another test, procedure, or bad news. It also means that I can provide support in return, because my colleagues don’t just feel like colleagues; it’s more than that. Loving your job with IPF means that in addition to the meaningful work that gives purpose to your day, and feeling supported by your colleagues, it also means I have somewhere to exercise my desire to try new things, be innovative, create and stand up for the needs of the families I work with.

I can do this because loving your job with IPF means that I feel safe enough with my manager to explore, challenge and ask questions to increase my understanding. It also means I can safely and comfortably admit, without fear or judgment, when I have made a mistake.

Loving your job with IPF is hard to explain. When so many other things in your life as a patient with a chronic illness seems unsteady, out of control and uncertain, loving your job means there is something stable, meaningful and exciting at the dawn of each new weekday. For that, I am truly grateful.

***

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.

Thanks for stopping by my column! My name is Charlene Marshall and I was diagnosed officially with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) on April 7 2016 after 13 months of various tests, hospitalizations and misdiagnoses, such as bronchitis and asthma. Due to my age, the specialist disclosed that he was unsure how the IPF would manifest itself in terms of progression, and whether it would be fast or slow and what the course of my illness might look like. Not much has changed since then, meaning there is still a lot that remains unknown, which is largely due to my age and how “rare” it is for someone under 30 to receive a diagnosis of IPF. That being said, a lot has changed for me in the time since diagnosis and I am looking forward to sharing some of those changes with you through this online platform, and I invite you along for the ride! Throughout this column I intend to chronicle the experience of living with an invisible, yet fatal disease as a young adult and share some stories about how IPF has impacted every aspect of my life, both good and bad, thus far. I plan on highlighting the challenges (and where I can, the positives…) that come with living with IPF and the impact on social and intimate relationships, finances, family dynamics, facing mortality, infertility, travelling, medication side effects, career goals and so much more as it arises for me as a “new” patient. I hope others’ with similar experiences will reach out as no story trumps any other, nor should any go unheard. For now, let me leave you with some personal details about who I am, outside of my IPF diagnosis. I grew up in a small town in south-western Ontario and still live within Ontario, although in a much bigger city. My favorite sport is/was underwater hockey (yes, it is a thing: look it up on YouTube), I love working with people, I work full-time in the Social Work/Social Services field, I am an avid learner filled with heaps of curiosity for the world, which lead me to start my Masters Degree in 2014. I am in the last few months of my Masters Degree and am looking forward to an upcoming trip to Australia more than I’ve looked forward to anything before. Welcome to the shambles and chaos that is my life!
×
Thanks for stopping by my column! My name is Charlene Marshall and I was diagnosed officially with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) on April 7 2016 after 13 months of various tests, hospitalizations and misdiagnoses, such as bronchitis and asthma. Due to my age, the specialist disclosed that he was unsure how the IPF would manifest itself in terms of progression, and whether it would be fast or slow and what the course of my illness might look like. Not much has changed since then, meaning there is still a lot that remains unknown, which is largely due to my age and how “rare” it is for someone under 30 to receive a diagnosis of IPF. That being said, a lot has changed for me in the time since diagnosis and I am looking forward to sharing some of those changes with you through this online platform, and I invite you along for the ride! Throughout this column I intend to chronicle the experience of living with an invisible, yet fatal disease as a young adult and share some stories about how IPF has impacted every aspect of my life, both good and bad, thus far. I plan on highlighting the challenges (and where I can, the positives…) that come with living with IPF and the impact on social and intimate relationships, finances, family dynamics, facing mortality, infertility, travelling, medication side effects, career goals and so much more as it arises for me as a “new” patient. I hope others’ with similar experiences will reach out as no story trumps any other, nor should any go unheard. For now, let me leave you with some personal details about who I am, outside of my IPF diagnosis. I grew up in a small town in south-western Ontario and still live within Ontario, although in a much bigger city. My favorite sport is/was underwater hockey (yes, it is a thing: look it up on YouTube), I love working with people, I work full-time in the Social Work/Social Services field, I am an avid learner filled with heaps of curiosity for the world, which lead me to start my Masters Degree in 2014. I am in the last few months of my Masters Degree and am looking forward to an upcoming trip to Australia more than I’ve looked forward to anything before. Welcome to the shambles and chaos that is my life!

One comment

  1. Dr Holly Smith says:

    Thank you for this lovely message. I too have IPF and have cut my hours back. I find blessings in the cutting back as I am trying new things on my days of rest. Regards Holly Smith

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *