Dealing With Social Events When You Have PF
Despite living with a life-threatening illness, patients commonly strive to maintain the normalcy of their lives prior to their diagnosis. For those living with pulmonary fibrosis (PF), it can be a struggle to find balance between what they were able to do before their lung disease, and what their new limitations are. Occasionally when patients are first diagnosed, they don’t experience a drastic difference in their physical abilities. However, as their disease progresses, both physical and social limitations may become an issue.
For those without a lung disease, or those who haven’t cared for or known a person with one, it may be hard to understand social limitations. Generally, patients with PF still want to see their friends and family members, and attend as many social events as they did before their diagnosis. This is to maintain the normalcy in their lives; however, participating in social events can become difficult for those living with a lung disease.
Below are some of the ways that patients are physically impacted by social events:
Many patients with PF are considered immune-compromised or are told to avoid getting sick due to the severe impact it could have on their lungs. The risk of falling ill for a patient with PF is significantly increased when participating in social events where there are lots of people around. Why is getting sick so dangerous? Unfortunately for patients with PF, any type of respiratory issue, any flu, cold, virus or bacterial infection can further prevent oxygenation of the lungs. Not only is this really scary and uncomfortable for the patient, it can also further damage the lungs and impact their lung function permanently. This is just one example of how large crowds or too many social events can physically impact patients.
Mental and physical fatigue
A lung disease can cause physical exhaustion for a patient. This is due to being chronically under-oxygenated, or constantly coughing and struggling to breathe. But it can also cause mental fatigue and exhaustion. More specifically, over-stimulation can cause patients to feel mentally exhausted as they try to navigate social events. This mental exhaustion ties into the physical fatigue, and patients often have to spend days recovering after a social event.
Depending on the type of social event, many patients can feel an emotional impact. As an example, young adults often attend weddings and baby showers. While this is an exciting milestone to celebrate, a PF patient may feel emotional about the possibility of missing out on these occasions in his or her own life. This doesn’t just apply to young adults; perhaps an older patient is attending a baby shower for their future grandchild. The idea that their life may be cut short by this disease, and that they may not be able to watch this new child grow up can be emotionally overwhelming. Social events are important for patients to maintain social connection and normalcy in their lives; however, it can also have an emotional impact that others may not be aware of.
Can you think of other ways that you are physically, mentally or emotionally impacted after attending social events?
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