Hold Onto Things Loosely

Hold Onto Things Loosely

Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey

I am learning to hold onto things loosely. To me, holding things loosely as a PF patient means being active in the pursuit of my health, taking care of things I need to, and letting go of things that are out of my control. I’m shifting my focus to holding tightly to the precious moments in front of me. This is where my faith in God helps so much. For me, loosely holding things means placing my future in God’s hands.

We think we are in control

Most of us cling tightly to the idea that we are in control of our lives. The reality is that while our actions influence our lives, we don’t control life. There are many variables that we can only react to. Marriages break up. Friendships change. Careers end. Hurricanes happen. And yes, some people get pulmonary fibrosis.

Working through grief helps us adjust from what was to what is. Part of accepting this disease is holding things loosely; being willing to open our hands and let happen what happens. This doesn’t mean we don’t care or that we stop doing all we can to stay as healthy for as long as possible. We do.

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Preparing for transplant, or death

I’ve expressed my God-given gifts for 30 years through counseling, teaching, writing, and public speaking. I’m grateful I could be a positive influence in the lives of others for so long. But I’ve had to let go of most of that. I’m learning to loosen my hold on things. This shift helps me adjust and enjoy the precious moments happening right now.

I’m going through testing to get on the transplant list. I hope to get on it and have a successful transplant that will extend my life. It may happen and it may not. My job is to do all I can to stay healthy and follow my doctor’s orders. That’s what I have control of. I don’t have control over getting on the list, getting new lungs, or having a successful transplant. I am loosely holding onto hopes of a transplant. Whether it happens or not, I’ll be OK. God is in control of my life and future, and I trust Him.

The first time I released my hold

My first real experience with loosening my hold on things came 39 years ago. My husband and I had been married just a year when we set off from California to go to graduate school in Texas. He wanted to become a pastor and I wanted to become a counselor. We were driving a souped-up VW Bug and towing a trailer containing all of our worldly belongings, including our wedding presents. We traveled at night because it was so hot. At about midnight on the second night, we were driving on the freeway when suddenly we lurched forward and rolled off the road. We landed in a heap, upside down and hanging from our seatbelts.

(Photo by Kim Fredrickson)

Fortunately, we were OK, and we crawled out of the door. A truck had pulled off the road, and my husband ran to ask him to radio for help. There were no cellphones back then, and we were in the middle of the Arizona desert. As my husband approached the driver, he said, “I’m so sorry, I fell asleep and hit you.” Our car and trailer had turned over twice, spreading our belongings all over the freeway. A policeman drove us to a hotel to spend the night, and the next day we had to load our totaled car and smashed belongings into a U-Haul truck to drive to Dallas to file a claim.

That was a rough experience for a newly-married couple. However, it helped us grow stronger together, and it was my first experience of intentionally loosening my hold on material things. And, honestly, losing those things didn’t matter. There was great freedom in knowing we could lose all of our possessions and still be OK on the inside. God helped us in amazing ways to get through such a difficult time. I think this experience has prepared me for many losses in my life and has helped me hold onto things loosely. It’s also prepared me for this next step of losing my life. I can notice and appreciate the small things in life. I still feel blessed by the life I have yet to live.

I’d love to hear from you!

What jumped out at you from this column? How have you been able to hold things loosely? How have past losses helped you adjust to the losses that come with PF?

Please leave a comment below and share with those who could benefit via email or on social media.

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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.

12 comments

  1. N Morris says:

    If we are going to be talking about god in what i was hoping is a serious discussion about ipf please delete me from your advisory list

    • Hello, Thanks for your comment. I think it is great that you are being wise in deciding which type of information you want to read to help you navigate this difficult disease. You may not have realized that this is a column, written by myself, a patient, sharing about my struggles and solutions to cope with this disease. If you received this column via e-mail you can go to the bottom of it and click unsubscribe. I wish you the very best as you travel this difficult path 🙂

      • Julie S says:

        36 years sober and learned in AA how to live ‘one day at a time.’ In those years I met Jesus and held on tight. Living ODAAT has been a blessing beyond belief after my diagnose of IPF, pulmonary Hypertension and bottom left and right heart damage. I had 62% lung capacity when dignosed. In 6 months lost 10% more and do for my CT scan and breathing test next week. We will see if OFEV has hopefully slowed down the progression. Either way I hear the news, I am at peace because I know that my whole life has brought me here with courage, strength, perseverence and trusting that God is in control and it is up to Him to make way…where there seems to be no way. I have my paperwork in for Transplant but still need to loose a few lbs. Been sick 3 times in the last 3 months and it has been difficult to take it off. I am a fighter and will accomplish it and can only hope and pray that I will get accepted. I am in the process of my pre-planning of my funeral, etc,. I do not want my Husband and 2 sons left to handle that. This way, I can put it fully together as I would choose and not as someone else would. That is another part of letting go and not letting the IPF get me down. I have encouraged several of my best friends to help me and it has been great memories not only for me but for them too. We actually laugh and cry together as we love each other.
        I made some horrible decisions when I was drinking but I would never give up my 36 years and counting ever. I know that even if I get a lung in a transplant, it may not work. Am I willing to take the risk, yes! Because it is not my place to say no to trying. If God wants it stopped, He will make that happen for His reasons and I have to trust it is all for the best.
        I have no regrets and of anything that I failed at because it was in those failings, I grew into who I am today. Being able to handle this tough situation, I have never said, “Why me?”
        I let go and let God and again I credit AA with bringing me into life of letting go of all I cannot handle. Knowing that by letting go, I have God’s unending peace, Faith. Hope and love.
        I use all the resources I have and build my life on that with my IPF. Some may not embrace God at this point in their care plan and that is fine. I just hope they learn to live and let go, otherwise it will be a struggle beyond words. God loves all of us and we just need to turn back and at least try. This life speaks volumes of everything that is happening. I choose to hold onto by belief and loose all the fear, sadness and anger because that itself will kill us because of the stress and strain it puts on our lungs and heart.
        I am happy that you are forging ahead and continue to share because it is the truth that sets us Free!! U go girl!💕

        • Brian Thomson says:

          Thank you Julie for your sharing I am 46 years sober also in the fellowship.I was diagnosed with I.P.F.in July and I am struggling every day,I don’t have your faith I wish I did it would make all of this a little more bearable,I keep reading your message and it helps a lot.

  2. Kelly says:

    I believe that God is guiding my life also. I’ve went through the grief process already. This disease makes you realize very quickly what is important in your life. Without God I am nothing! I’m not going to pursue a transplant.The Lord will take me when he’s ready!

  3. Robin Ives says:

    Kim this is such a beautiful column – I love the thoughts of letting go and letting God take the reins. There have been many times in our lives when I said ok God please take care of this – I don’t know what to do…. And lo and behold a solution arrives. Having IPF and being a caregiver is a struggle every day. But trying to find something to smile about each and every day is our goal and to continue to make memories.

  4. Sybil Sutton says:

    Kim,
    Your columns are always so richly thought provoking and wonderful to read. I pray for God’s direction, protection, and ultimate “control” over your life and others on this forum.
    Thank you for all that you do for this community.

  5. Anne McIntosh says:

    Kim, Timing of your article was perfect. I am going through the process of getting on the transplant list. One of the most difficult things to accept is that I am not in control, and I found your story comforting. I do believe that God gave the gift of knowledge and talent for transplants to happen. I wish a total success for you.

  6. Liz Jones says:

    My husband was diagnosed with IPF in 2015 and it has been a scary journey of “breathing” decent. He is on medicine to slow down the progression, but he breathing capacity has decreased drastically. He was put on Oxygen maybe a month ago, but he is fatigued going from one room to another in our small house. His daily shower takes at least a 45 minute recuperation process. Yesterday, he went to his Cardiologist and from some tests he took last week, the doctor said he has a blockage. So, today he is getting a Heart Cautherization to see what is going on! We have faith in God and we know our times are in His hands. We have lived a life of putting things in God’s hands; but, we didn’t think this would be his life not able to do so many things. He is 77 and had a wonderful 30 year career in the Marine Corps. He is wonderful person and our family is so appreciative of the multitude of God’s blessings – married 54 years, 3 children, 13 grandchildren, and 9 (& a 1/2) great grandchildren. What a wonderful life! We say “God is good all the time and we still trust him!

  7. Audrey Ludlam says:

    I too find my trust and love for the Lord has grown since being diagnosed with PF. I am thankful for His peace beyond understanding. I am thankful for every baby step of improvement. I am so thankful He is with me for everyone of those baby steps. I am so thankful I am never alone, that He is with me and will never leave me or forsake me. Thank you Kim for your encouragement and faith.

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