It’s fair to say that none of us really know how to navigate our days during this COVID-19 pandemic. I have never lived through anything quite like this, and would guess that many of you haven’t either. The days are long with a lack of routine and structure, and I know many extroverts are having a hard time with our new reality of physical distancing.
A wise friend once told me about the importance of focusing on what I can control while letting go of the things I can’t. This sentiment has been echoed many times in the four years I’ve lived with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The loss of control, particularly over changes to the body and physical decline from a fatal lung disease, has been one of the hardest things about living with IPF. However, amid all the difficulties, there are always aspects of our life we can control.
I have been practicing aspects of self-quarantine since November 2019 when I fell sick after attending the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Summit. However, the experience of self-isolating at home is very different from being admitted to the hospital. Because there is a lot more to do at home, I find that my body wants to keep up with my mind and the desire to stay busy. These days, that is a problem because there is a disconnect between my mental and physical capabilities; I am still weak and easily fatigued, whereas mentally, I want to be doing more. This disconnect causes me some frustration at home.
As a result of that frustration, I’ve been pondering how I can make my time in quarantine a little easier. This is something I can control in a world that feels out of control right now. Not only will it be helpful in the immediate future, as this pandemic is expected to continue for several more months, but also it will be a helpful exercise after transplant. I was gently reminded by fellow patients that the quarantine we’re experiencing as a result of COVID-19 is similar to the self-isolation required after lung transplant.
Following are some ways I’ve tried to make quarantine a little easier for myself:
- Meal-kit deliveries: As a result of being immune-compromised, I am on strict lockdown at home, which means there are no “essential outings” for me. This includes getting groceries, picking up medications, and running other errands. As a result, I am fully dependent on others to do these tasks for me. It’s hard not to feel like a burden when I try to eat as much fresh, healthy produce as possible, which requires multiple trips to the grocery store. To make life a little easier for those running errands for me, along with ensuring I eat healthy food during quarantine, I’ve subscribed to a meal-kit delivery program called Hello Fresh. Each week, a box of ingredients (including fresh herbs) is delivered to my door to make three meals with two servings each. I get to pick the meals in advance, and still enjoy the opportunity to cook healthy, fresh meals without depending on others.
- Time limits on the news: Taking care of our mental health during this pandemic is just as important as caring for our physical health. News burnout is a real phenomenon I have felt it in the last few weeks. To make life a little less scary and easier to manage, I have committed to limiting my time reading COVID-related reports online or watching the news each day.
- Daily home exercise: Typically, we all feel better when our bodies are moving, even if it is with some form of gentle exercise. It has not been easy to get motivated to do this at home, but I have asked my physical therapist for a simple-to-read handout of pulmonary rehabilitation exercises that I can do at home to help build up my strength. Doing some type of exercise to keep my body moving has made my time in quarantine a little easier, and it gives me something positive I can do to help my body.
- Maintaining a sleep schedule: While I need my rest as I continue to heal, maintaining a regular sleep schedule has many benefits. Getting up at the same time every day has helped to ensure I have some structure to each day in quarantine. This is making the days a little easier to manage because they’re reflective of a normal routine, which is something I am so desperate to have back.
What are you doing to make your time in quarantine a little easier? We’d love to hear from you! Please share in the comments below.
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.
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