Handling the Holidays While Living with PF
The holidays are coming! They are a challenge to negotiate as a pulmonary fibrosis patient. Here’s some tips I’d like to share to make the most of the holidays while taking good care of yourself.
It is normal to have a mixture of feelings as the holidays approach
We all know the positives – yummy food, special moments with family and friends, times of gratitude to God and others in our lives, decorations, the beauty of the lights, and did I mention … yummy food?
It is a time of year that also brings mixed feelings when you have a serious illness like pulmonary fibrosis. One part of me is looking forward to relatives visiting and sharing meaningful moments. Another part of me feels tired just thinking about it. I have barely enough energy to get through the day, so the thought of anything extra wears me out.
But here’s the truth that keeps me going …
I have now to spend meaningful times with my loved ones, and I’m going to enjoy the time I have. I’m not going to feel better next year at this time, so I want to embrace all that is possible now. It’s easy for me to get stuck in the pain of all I’ve lost and will lose because of pulmonary fibrosis. I don’t want to go into denial about the truth of my diagnosis, but I also don’t want it to steal the good I have now.
I let myself have my feelings …
It’s normal to have a lot of painful feelings about how pulmonary fibrosis has drastically reduced what I’m able to do for the holidays, as well as the many other ways my life has changed. This is what I said to myself this morning,
“It is so sad and depressing that I can do so little for the holidays. I think about how I used to be and what I used to do, and this makes me feel sad and angry. I am tempted to say, ‘forget the whole thing…never mind about decorating, traditions and special foods. It’s too much trouble’. But then I look around and I realize I still have now. I have this Thanksgiving, I have this Christmas…I may not next year. I will get the help I need to celebrate these holidays in ways that are meaningful to me, and keep it simple. Someday I may have to give up on celebrating, but that day is not now.”
Don’t assume …
It’s easy to make assumptions about what the holidays will look like based on the past, or what you are guessing others want. Please don’t do the mind reading thing, hoping that others know what is important to you this year. Don’t assume you know what they want. That is a recipe for disaster.
Here’s two questions that will help you figure out how to spend your precious energy during the holidays
Ask yourself and others these two questions:
- What do you NOT want to happen when we celebrate Thanksgiving? All people, we included, have an easier time saying what they don’t want to happen, than what they do want to happen.
- Imagine it is the day after Thanksgiving, or the day after a visit to spend time with family or friends. When you sit back and say, “wow that was a great day, or a great trip,” think about … what made it a great day or trip?
It is amazing how those two questions can help you and others figure out what is truly important to you around the holidays. Now it doesn’t mean everyone’s answers are going to fit perfectly together. It does mean you will start with real answers, rather than assumptions about what your and others’ needs are.
What’s important to you matters
When planning for the holidays, make sure you include some things that matter to you, that don’t depend on the actions of someone else. So for me, there are things I make sure happen — like watching holiday Hallmark movies that my husband doesn’t get into. I also like to watch “Elf” and “White Christmas.”
Talk with those in your life about making sure to include time with people or activities that are meaningful to you, such as time with family and friends, special holiday traditions and food, looking at lights, music, church service, etc.
Take care of yourself
Make sure to get enough sleep if you can, time to rest, and have fun in ways that are possible for you. Please be kind and compassionate with yourself during the holidays. Be patient with yourself. You will have days that are better than others. It’s better to do less, and not exhaust yourself … which for me, doesn’t take much.
I’m being intentional about looking for the good that is in my life, thanking those for standing by me, and looking for ways I can honor and remind myself that God is by my side no matter what. I’ve started a list of all I’m grateful for and it is growing! Give it a try and let me know what you find.
Keep things simple
Thanksgiving at our home is simple. I ordered a pre-made Turkey dinner, decorations are a pretty tablecloth and some gourds, and we’re going to watch movies, talk, and do puzzles. My hubby and adult kids will do almost everything, but it will be a holiday and time together I will treasure and enjoy to the fullest.
I hope this post gives you some ideas of how you can make the most of your holidays while taking good care of yourself. No matter what, please be kind to yourself, and soak in the good that is there for you.
I would love to hear your ideas of how to handle the holidays with all the challenges we have. Please leave a comment below … and Blessings to 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.