Being diagnosed with any type of life-threatening illness will inevitably change a person. This is especially true when there is no link (i.e., genetic predisposition) or reason to think that anything could be wrong, or when the illness is unlikely to target someone due to their age.
That was my case when I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) three years ago. According to everything I read online, along with what my doctor shared, IPF was stereotyped as a disease of the elderly. It was unusual that I was diagnosed with this lung disease at 28 years old, although I am slowly learning that young adults living with IPF are not as rare as people might think.
Since receiving my life-threatening lung disease diagnosis, I’ve begun to think about some things differently than I did before. I also act and choose to live my life differently since IPF crept in. Just last month, I wrote a column about priorities as a patient with IPF and how mine have changed. Today, I’m reflecting on the things I think about differently and comparing my current perspective to my life before IPF.
- What I post to my social media pages: Many social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have a feature that brings up posts you’ve shared to your account in previous years as “memories.” I never thought I’d use or like this feature, but since I was diagnosed with IPF, I enjoy looking back on things I did when my life was drastically different from how it is now. Not only do I enjoy looking back, I intentionally post things that will eventually become a memory for my loved ones if and when I succumb to this disease. There is a feature on some social media sites that lets you memorialize a page after someone has passed away. My friend who lost her husband had his Facebook page turned into a hardcover memorial book, which is a beautiful way to share his life and the things that were important to him. I think differently about what I post to social media, recognizing that someday it will likely tell the story of my life.
- Using my phone in the presence of friends: This shouldn’t be something we have to intentionally think about, but sadly, it is. If you look around at people sharing a meal in a restaurant, you’ll often notice they’re glued to their phones and not enjoying the company of those they are with. I was often guilty of this prior to my diagnosis, but now I put my phone down when I am out with others. Quality time spent with friends and family is my priority, and I don’t feel as though I can offer that when my phone is out.
- Looking ahead/anticipating next milestones: I think it is natural to anticipate upcoming milestones, like birthdays, anniversaries, or weddings. I used to have this mindset, but since my diagnosis of IPF, I’ve stopped anticipating these events and try harder to be present in the moment.
- Accepting what I can’t change: I used to be really bothered by situations that were beyond my control and by the fact that I couldn’t change an outcome. Since being diagnosed with IPF, I’ve really learned a lesson in acceptance. I think differently about certain situations now, and work hard on just accepting things I can’t change. I also try harder to reframe situations from negative to positive, as this helps me cope. While I might not be able to change the outcome, I can control how I react to it, and this gives me a bit more power.
What things do you think about differently since your pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis? I’d love to hear from you!
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.