Overcoming travel anxiety is one hurdle I face as a patient advocate

A columnist prepares to travel by air for the first time since her PF diagnosis

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by Ann Reynoso |

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Stepping outside of our comfort zone can be an intimidating endeavor. But life often presents us with situations that require us to venture beyond what we’re used to.

As I prepare for my first trip away from home since my pulmonary fibrosis (PF) diagnosis four years ago, I find myself wrestling with a surge of emotions. What should be an exciting opportunity to advocate for others at a conference is overshadowed by fear that grips me due to the unknowns of traveling with PF.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to carefully prepare for this journey. The prospect of leaving my familiar surroundings triggers waves of panic and changes my dreams into nightmares as I anticipate feeling out of control during the trip.

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Traveling by plane adds another layer of difficulty to my preparations. While I have my Transportation Security Administration-approved oxygen concentrator and my medications are accurately organized by day, uncertainties about navigating the airport exacerbate my anxiety. Will I need a wheelchair to travel between terminals? Will my oxygen concentrator fit comfortably in the assigned seat? What if I have a panic attack midflight?

Despite these fears, I find solace in the presence of my husband, who will accompany me on this journey. His unwavering support has been a source of strength and reassurance for me, especially in light of a recent health scare he had. While I worry about his well-being, knowing that we will face this journey together brings me a sense of comfort and security.

While questions swirl in my mind and threaten to overshadow the purpose of my journey as a patient advocate, amid the uncertainty, I know I’m not alone. Countless people living with pulmonary fibrosis or other chronic conditions navigate similar challenges every day.

As I confront my fears head-on, I remind myself of the resilience I have and the support network that surrounds me. I recently reached out to fellow advocates to seek their wisdom and reassurance. Together, we exchanged strategies for managing travel worries, from deep breathing exercises to visualization techniques.

While the road ahead may be intimidating, I draw strength from knowing that each step I take is a testament to my resilience and determination. As I embark on this journey, I carry with me the voices of those who rely on advocates like me to defend their cause. And with each challenge, I confirm my commitment to advocating for the needs and rights of patients everywhere.

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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.


Rob webster avatar

Rob webster

I too get extremely anxious about travelling anywhere, I'm on high flow liquid oxygen 8ltrs per minute at rest... I really panick about breaking down, getting stuck in traffic, getting a puncture etc....
I do carry spare oxygen canisters when ever we go anywhere, but always imagine the worst case scenarios ever...
I have mentioned this to my pulmonary Dr and to the palative care team...
They told me about a "Slow release Morphine Tablets",
(MST Continus 10mg tablets) I have been taking them now for around 2mths...really do help a lot with the
Maybe ask your Doctor about trying them...


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