As the seasons slowly change here in Southwestern Ontario and we welcome the beauty of fall, I can’t help but reflect on this past summer. It was filled with some happy memories, but also hard times as my disease progressed and my lungs struggled with the heat and humidity that comes with summertime in Canada.
This summer was harder for me than those in the past due to the progression of my idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and the decline of my lung function. This really kept me from fully participating in the summertime activities that I typically love and look forward to.
Today, as I was scrolling through my personal social media pages, I saw many posts and pictures of people sharing all the things they were thankful for. The start of a new season and reflecting on ones passed tie in nicely with it being Thanksgiving weekend in Canada as I write this. Despite my disease leaving me frustrated and angry a lot of the time and feeling as though I have lost so much, I am also aware that I still have a lot to be thankful for.
With this in mind, I have decided that, from time to time, I want to use these columns to document things I have to be thankful for. While I have lost a lot both physically and emotionally from this journey with IPF, I could likely counter most of those losses with something I am still thankful for.
Let’s give this a try!
- It is hard to accept that I have lost the ability to participate in sports, particularly water sports, of which I am so fond. It’s not easy to go from being so physically active and busy during the day to only being able to work a full day — and sometimes not even that — and then needing to come home to rest. On the flip side, I am thankful for the gifts that resting and being still have given me. Prior to my diagnosis and having to learn more about stillness, I never would have considered writing columns online, which has enabled me to connect with an entire online community of support surrounding my disease and other interests. Had I not learned to be still, I also never would have developed a new artistic skill that I now thoroughly enjoy and am using to make others happy. I am thankful for this new learning and skill development.
- I feel as though I have lost the ability to budget effectively due to increasing medical costs. I used to consider myself good with money and someone who could manage a budget well. That was before I got slammed on the regular with costs associated with having a chronic illness, including hospital parking, gas to and from appointments, medical equipment, and medications. That said, although I have lost the privilege of being a little lenient or frivolous with my money, I am very thankful for Canadian healthcare. I couldn’t imagine the expenses I would have incurred by now had our healthcare system been different and I had to pay more out of pocket. Thankful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel when I also think about the world-renowned hospital that is close and that leads incredible advancements in lung transplantation.
- I often am unable to participate in large social gatherings with my friends due to fatigue or the desire to stay home and be away from large crowds for fear of getting sick. That said, I am so thankful for the quality time I have with friends who have stuck with me throughout this illness and offered to help me in the most generous ways. It isn’t easy to support someone with a life-threatening illness, and many of my friends have offered help in ways that I never even knew I needed. I have also learned to appreciate time with friends more since my diagnosis, cherishing the quality time we spend together. Lastly, having a life-threatening illness has also enabled me to have very tough, but meaningful conversations with those I love most, and I am thankful for that.
If you look hard enough, there is always something to be thankful for. I have decided to let go of what I couldn’t do this year and instead focus on the things I have to be thankful for and excited about in this season and always.
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.