A Gratitude Miniseries: July 2018

A Gratitude Miniseries: July 2018

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Editor’s note: A continuation of Charlene Marshall’s monthly “Gratitude Miniseries.”

Similar to my “Gratitude Miniseries” column for April, July was not one of my favorite months this year. While some good things happened, which I will highlight below, I had to navigate many social and emotional challenges that consumed a lot of energy.

While the goal of these gratitude columns is to reflect on all the good things that happened this year, it is inevitable that positivity will not fill all months. I believe in the phrase, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” and when I reflect on some of my more difficult months this year, I know I’ll be stronger as a result. Difficult times create opportunities for learning, and while it is hard to see this in the moment, reflecting helps me understand that lessons can come from hardships.

For example, I had some hard conversations with friends this month, which gave me opportunities for self-development that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I have also gained skills and comfort in the areas of conflict resolution and problem-solving, which are always important to have. While these difficult times certainly did not feel good in the moment and consumed a lot of my emotional energy, they did create opportunities for me to try harder, and I am always grateful for chances to do better.

Despite experiencing several difficulties this month, there were also good times. I am l glad to have the opportunity to document them through this column series. As I pull down the calendar hanging beside my bed and look at what I’ve written on it, I smile at the memories created from some of my July events. Here they are:

  • Attending a concert with my mom: While my music genre preference is not country, my mom has always been a fan of one particular country artist. For as long as I can remember, seeing this singer perform has been on my mom’s bucket list. This artist recently toured in Canada, and I bought tickets to her show as a surprise for my mom. Not only was this an incredible concert, and something we could both cross off our bucket lists, but it was also an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with my mom. This doesn’t happen as often as I’d like because we live so far apart, so I am really grateful for the opportunity to help her cross an item off her bucket list and share this experience with her. It is a wonderful memory that I’m grateful to have!
  • Dinner with a friend: This may seem like such a small item, but when so many of my days are consumed with medical appointments and fatigue, getting to spend time with friends is really special for me. My friend and I went for sushi together and spent hours catching up over dinner. It was so nice to get a thorough, unrushed update on her life and to share what is going on in my life besides the health issues. When living with a chronic illness, you quickly learn the importance and value of spending quality time with close friends.
  • A professional development conference: While attending this conference was technically for work, I had many opportunities for personal development in addition to strengthening my professional skills. The conference was unlike others I have attended, as it was quite “quirky,” so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I also can’t definitively decide whether the content and learning was my favorite part or whether it was the chance to network with some incredible people. I love meeting new people, and being able to do that with people from all over the world was really neat. Spending a week at the conference also enabled me to build stronger relationships with a few colleagues who joined me. Our roles usually don’t overlap in the office, so getting to know them on a more personal level was really great.
  • Spending a day with my nephew: Each summer, my nephew and I spend a day together at a local amusement and water park. I feared I wouldn’t be able to take him this year due to my health, but I am happy to say we recently had our day together and laughs filled it! I am grateful for the opportunity to create even more memories with him this year.

Finding opportunities to be grateful is an important part of coping with any life-threatening illness. What are you grateful for from this past month?

***

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!
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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!
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6 comments

  1. Daniel Hollandsworth says:

    I have a mild case of IPF but for the past year I was unable to lay down to sleep because I couphed so much. My doctor tried my on a new inhaler Breo and now I can sleep through the night.

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for reading my columns and getting in touch via the comments. I always appreciate hearing from others about what makes their life with IPF a little easier. I’ve never heard of the Breo inhaler, but I’ll keep it in mind for future. Thanks again for sharing that, and so glad to hear it is bringing you some relief with sleeping – everything can seem worse for us when we’re lacking sleep!

      Thanks again, and best wishes to you!
      Charlene.

  2. Lorena McManus says:

    Charlene, when you’re energy is drained and life is so challenging I applaud you for living with gratitude. It is no always easy but I believe it gives meaning & joy to life. Thanks for sharing. Lorena

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Lorena,

      Thanks so much for reading my columns and for your kind words… they have found me on a really tough day, and they’ve warmed my heart as a result. Thank you! I try to be grateful each day, although sometimes I struggle. In the end though, I agree with you that living with gratitude gives us meaning and joy in life so I will try to hold my head higher today. Thanks so much again for your kind words!
      Cheers,
      Charlene.

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Couldn’t agree more Judy re: how thankful I am for my friends. So glad you find my column helpful as well – I will continue writing as long as I can. I am thankful for the readers and their stories, which inspire me daily.
      Hugs to you!
      Charlene.

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