30 Days of PF: My Attitude Is One of Gratitude
Day 3 of 30
This is Gail Hicks’ story:
My name is Gail Hicks, and my PF story began in February 2017. I had been out of breath and coughing uncontrollably for several months. We were getting ready for a trip to Florida, so I made a doctor’s appointment.
After listening to my lungs and taking chest X-rays, he admitted me into the hospital with double pneumonia. I was treated with IV antibiotics and also saw a pulmonologist. I was sent home after four days, but had to use supplemental oxygen whenever I stood. When the oxygen company brought supplies to our house, I said that I would only need them for two or three weeks. Four years later, I still use oxygen with activity and at night!
When I went back to see the physician’s assistant in the pulmonologist’s office two weeks later, she said I was worse and she wouldn’t stop until she found out what was wrong. I was admitted into the hospital immediately, and my trip was canceled indefinitely. I had a chest CT and was told that I had interstitial lung disease (ILD).
I was stunned to learn that ILD is a progressive disease with no cure. After three months of high doses of prednisone, I underwent a lung biopsy that revealed my form of ILD is called hypersensitive pneumonitis, and the two medicines that had been approved three years earlier to help slow disease progression wouldn’t help this form of ILD. So, I went back on high doses of prednisone for another three months.
My husband and I went to a pulmonary support group at St. Joseph’s Hospital until 2020, but now I Zoom call with the group every month. Through the group, I learn valuable information and receive support from others with the disease.
These days, I try to live by the motto: “If you can’t change your circumstances, change your attitude.” I feel truly blessed in many ways, including getting a diagnosis in three weeks when some people wait a year or two.
My awesome husband of 51.5 years has been very supportive, and I have wonderful family and friends, and a great church. Our Florida trip never happened, but maybe someday!
Pulmonary Fibrosis News’ 30 Days of PF campaign will publish one story per day for PF Awareness Month in September. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPF, or read the full series.