Adjusting Christmas Plans Due to Exhaustion

Adjusting Christmas Plans Due to Exhaustion

Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey

Christmas is a week away, and I’ve been tired from shopping, decorating, and making plans. I’m feeling discouraged because my fatigue has prevented me from accomplishing what I want to. I’ve had to do a lot of adjusting due to my pulmonary fibrosis (PF) troubles.

I love decorating, but this year I haven’t done much. It makes me sad that I’m not able to do more. Doing my shopping online has made things easier. My husband has helped me wrap gifts.

Adjusting plans

This week, I had to adjust our plans with family over Christmas. I’m blessed to have a loving extended family. They are coming to spend Christmas with us because I can’t travel very far, and staying at a hotel because my husband and I have a small house. We’ll get together at my home for meals. Last year, I was able to plan the meals and do the shopping. I enlisted help from everyone to do the cooking. Everyone left for a few hours in the middle of the day so I could rest. It worked pretty well.

PF progresses over time — a reality I’m experiencing this Christmas season. What a difference a year makes. This year, I felt panicky every time I thought about planning meals and coming up with a schedule.

I decided to ask for help

Two weeks ago, I realized I needed to be honest about how I felt, rather than procrastinate. I sent an email to my two sisters-in-law that said:

“I’ll be honest, I haven’t made any concrete plans. I could really use all of your help. I’m so looking forward to time together and need to reserve my energy to interact with everyone. It feels overwhelming to me to figure out meals. I could use both of your help.

Last year I was able to make dinner when everyone arrived, partly because our son was here for a couple of days. I won’t be able to do that this year. Dave and I can go grocery shopping a few days before to have beverages, snacks and fruit on hand. I won’t be able to make any meals, but we’re happy to do take out.

I’d really appreciate your input on what to do meals-wise and schedule-wise. I don’t feel overwhelmed having all of you come – I’m looking forward to it. I do feel overwhelmed having to plan it, and make meals happen. I’m a little worse than last year and get tired more easily.”

My sisters-in-law reacted wonderfully by talking with one another and setting up a schedule and meal plan. They even will come up with a grocery list of snacks and beverages for us to buy ahead of time.

Most of us at the 2017 dinner. (Courtesy of Kim Fredrickson)

Here’s what I learned

It took me a while to figure out what I felt and why I procrastinated in making plans for Christmas. I stepped back and asked myself what the panicky feeling was all about.

I then had to swallow my pride and admit that I needed help. I could really use all of your help.

I tried to be very specific with what I could and couldn’t do. I can go grocery shopping a few days before to have beverages, snacks, and fruit on hand. I won’t be able to make any meals, but we’re happy to do take out.

It was important to me to be clear that I was looking forward to visiting with them, but was overwhelmed having to make plans. I didn’t want to give the message that I don’t want them to come — because I do! I don’t feel overwhelmed by having all of you come — I’m looking forward to it. I do feel overwhelmed having to plan it and make meals happen. I’m a little worse than last year and get tired more easily.”

I am blessed to have support

I know you may not have as supportive a family as I do who will step in to help. I’m so sorry if that is your situation. No matter what your situation is, whether with Christmas planning or the daily grind of living with PF, take care of yourself.

  • Assess how you feel and what you need.
  • Adjust your expectations to be more realistic.
  • Ask for help if at all possible.
  • Let yourself grieve about how hard things are.
  • Embrace the good around you.
  • Do something nice for yourself!

Merry Christmas from me to you!

I’d love to hear from you!

How have you had to adjust your holiday plans? Have any tips to share? How will you care for yourself during this season?

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.

14 comments

  1. Linda Olson-Avery says:

    Thank you, Kim! Your story has SO many great suggestions for the holidays!! One thing that our family has started doing is on line grocery shopping. All we have to do is drive to the store. Someone even comes out and packs all of the groceries in the car for you! Always a good reminder that we need to slow down and go at our own pace during the holidays. Planning in rest time around all of the activities is essential. Merry Christmas!!

  2. Judy Sanders says:

    Hi Kim,
    Thank for writing what I needed to hear. We are traveling out of town for Christmas, and staying in a hotel. I gave an oxygen concentrator reserved for the trip
    We have a small tree up, a Christmas doormat and a poinsettia. A far cry from my usual decorating. I vasilate between sadness and acceptance that things are so different. Our shopping was done online also.
    I found a site for Mantras and it is helping me with relaxation and breathing.
    Thank you for giving us your insights on coping with IPF.
    Merry Christmas, Judy.

    • Hi Judy,
      So glad my column was what you needed to hear. Sometimes we need validation that our struggles are normal. I know what you mean about feeling sad while also accepting our new normal. Thanks for the tip about the site for Mantras. We need all the help we can get to relax. In case you haven’t heard, I just released a book (on amazon) called Pulmonary Fibrosis Journey: A Counselor and Fellow Patient Walks with You. I’m hoping to help as many patients and their loved ones as possible. This is such a hard road, but we’re in it together!

  3. Angela Trisel says:

    Omg this hit home tonight. I feel so very overwhelmed, it takes me so long to do anything these days as I am getting worse myself. I feel so guilty because I should be so happy right now my son and daughter-in-law are coming tomorrow and I have worked so hard to make everything perfect ,it has taken me a whole month to decorate and to clean my very big house and of course I am such a control freak that I want to do everything myself so I can get it right the 1st time so I’m having a lot of trouble trying to admit that I need help, I really do.I am in tears as I write this cause I am soooo tired,I hope I have enough energy to enjoy this visit. 😴

    • Hi Angela,
      I know this transition is so hard. It’s tough to admit we need help. I think your body and whole being are crying out for you to listen. You can feel good about what you’ve done. I encourage you to ask for help tomorrow. They will want to help, and want you to enjoy your visit. I will be praying for you…

  4. Katie Broach says:

    I begin my 6th year with IPF with the new year. My fatigue has lessened since my primary care doctor found I was ‘slightly low’ on B12. I now take a daily B12 and within two weeks I had more energy and less fatigue. My arthritis pain holds me back but I found I can now ‘push through’ the pain to get some things done. I could wash dishes again w/a stool and could strip the bed and make it again. I am definitely better than this time last year. As for ‘hosting’ guests, the only extended-stay guests are family who arrive and ‘take over.’ I am 80 with heart disease and a risk of stroke that can be scary so I like to avoid stress at every turn. I ‘shopped’ all year through catalogs and enjoyed a very few hours of wrapping despite the ‘help’ of my cat Pippin. My main decoration has always been the tree. I have a little tree and have added a wreath. I will spend Christmas with family close by, maybe take a dish. My time in the kitchen is limited by the arthritis, but I love doing my own grocery shopping in the battery-operated carts. I am blessed with a helper 2 hours a week to do the things that are hardest for me (and yes I grieved those until it was time to let it go). Let the carols and promises of Christmas comfort us and have hope for the new year that some thing CAN GET BETTER despite our disease.

    • Dear Katie,
      Thanks so much for sharing with us. I love your attitude and wisdom about ways to thrive while living with PF. So appreciate the speciic examples you shared 🙂 A very Merry Christmas to you!!!

  5. mike gargett says:

    I have had ipf for about a year and i can relate to the pride thing.
    I am a male who was a very proud independent and some would say a stubborn pig headed individual.
    The thing with IPF although i have accepted it,the loved ones in my life find it so much harder to accept and i really do worry about how they are coping.
    There are no outwardly visible signs for them to see so they struggle to understand how quickly it progresses and why it can not be cured,i on the other hand count myself to be very fortunate because i have the time to say what i want to say to my loved ones which in fairness most people never get the chance to say.
    Thank you for sharing with us

    • Dear Mike,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I know what you mean about how hard it is for our loved ones to accept what a serious illness this is, and how it will progress and not get better. It is normal for them to go into denial, but can be lonely for us when we accept the reality that they cannot. I love the silver lining of being able to tell your loved ones what’s in your heart, which most people do not. What an encouraging perspective!

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