I’ve been feeling vulnerable lately. I feel vulnerable having pulmonary fibrosis (PF), being disabled, using supplemental oxygen, and being ever-increasingly more dependent on others.
What do I mean by vulnerable?
Oxford English Dictionary defines “vulnerable” as “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. A person in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect.”
It’s hard to be always worried about having enough oxygen to breathe. I often get kinks in my cords, have to check oxygen supply wherever I go, and deal with unexpected oxygen delivery problems.
I’m grateful to remain able to leave home to run errands, attend doctor’s appointments, and go on dates with my husband. However, it is a lot of work to make it happen, and this makes me feel vulnerable. I have to be vigilant about my oxygen, and so I always bring more tanks than I think I’ll need.
I had lunch with a friend recently, and I enjoyed our time together. At the same time, I was distracted as I checked my tanks to ensure I had enough oxygen and used an oximeter to check that my oxygen saturation levels were OK. I couldn’t be fully present with her, and I ended our lunch by letting her know I needed to leave to make sure I had enough oxygen to get home. Ugh!
It’s so hard to deal with all of this. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I’d rather not leave home with all the hassle that’s required.
Slowly but surely, I need more help around the house. I don’t have trouble accepting help; in fact, I’m grateful for it. It’s just hard to adjust to my reduced capabilities. I had a rough week last week when I threw out my back while moving something heavy. I upped my oxygen to make sure my oxygen levels were above 90 percent. My husband does so much for me, and I didn’t want to ask him because I thought it would be OK. It wasn’t.
I spent most of the last week in extreme pain and getting treatment for my injury. I’m better now, but I need to accept that I should do less and less, even if that makes me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.
A balanced outlook
I strive to be balanced about the hardships of this diagnosis, as well as the challenges of living with pulmonary fibrosis. I try to live life to the fullest and be grateful for every day and every breath. At the same time, I try to be real about the vulnerable emotions and hardships that I am going through.
I’ve found that facing my painful emotions helps me to grieve and to accept reality, which then helps me to come up with solutions. As a therapist of 30 years, I found that people who didn’t allow themselves to grieve stayed stuck, and became depressed and anxious. It’s hard to let ourselves feel the feelings, but it makes room in our hearts for what we have to be grateful for, and what we need to do to make our lives as satisfying as possible.
My faith helps me as I reach out to God for strength, guidance, and wisdom. Here’s a video I made to remind me to ask Him for help.
I hope this has been an encouragement to you as you deal with the challenges that PF brings.
I’d love to hear from you
When do you feel the most vulnerable? What helps you to get through those challenges? How do you keep a balanced perspective?
Please leave a comment below or on social media.
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.