30 Days of PF: Things Are Tougher But Our Spirits Remain High

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Photo courtesy of Steve Dragoo

Day 11 of 30

This is Steve Dragoo’s story:

I was initially diagnosed with interstitial lung disease in Manila in October 2016 and just thought I had walking pneumonia. I had never heard this term before and such cases are quite rare in the Philippines. So I took some prescribed antibiotics and went on with my medical missionary school until graduation a few months later. The school was an inspiring experience, teaching us about health, a good diet, when to eat, and much more, for a holistic approach to the body.

Back in our home city after school, my wife and I enjoyed walking each morning and, before the diagnosis, I would push to walk 7 or 8 kilometers. Unexpectedly in early 2017, that changed. Suddenly, I struggled to walk as far and to keep up with my wife. This new breathlessness led to some heart-searching about returning to the U.S. without my wife because she was still working as a teacher and we had not started her immigration papers.

In February 2018, I told the love of my life I was buying an airline ticket home to get some medical attention as quickly as possible with the hope of returning to her. Sorrowfully, we parted but are grateful we can talk three or four times a day through the internet.

Back in Virginia, I easily found work but I could not walk the distances I needed to and had to leave that job, unfortunately. My boss liked me and asked me to come back as soon as possible — I could not. In the meantime, my doctor told me to see a pulmonologist as soon as possible and I did.  That’s when I received the “official” diagnosis of IPF after a number of tests and scans.

Today, approaching my fifth year after the original diagnosis, things are getting rougher but our spirits are high. Nearly a year ago, I had an acute exacerbation and almost died. It was that severe and quite hard on us. But I survived. Of course, I can’t do a few things I was able to before, but I will keep trying until I can’t.

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.

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