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.
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.
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?
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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.