Navigating All The Changes That PF Brings.
Living with any life-threatening illness is difficult and brings with it many changes, both to the patient and their families. Unfortunately, so many of us on this forum have likely experienced this first hand and there is no guide or rulebook available to help us cope with all the changes pulmonary fibrosis (PF) forces upon us. Following my diagnosis of IPF in early 2016, I remember the doctor talking about how much would change for me physically. What that doctor unintentionally neglected to share was all the other changes, besides the physical things, that I would endure as a result of living with a life-threatening lung disease as a young adult.
While some of these changes have happened quickly, others have been more gradual over time but regardless of when they happened; so much has changed for me as a result of IPF. Below are just a few examples of some major changes my illness has caused, a change in:
- Friendships: it might seem strange to some, but when a chronic illness is “introduced” into a friendship, it can really change things. Living with IPF has helped me realize who my true friends are, and who is going to stick around through the tough times ahead. Not only has it changed my current friendships, living with a life-threatening illness also helps me realize what I want in future friendships as well. That includes things like finding people who are authentic, honest, and who have a genuine interest in spending time with me even when I am physically limited in what I can do.
- Hobbies: living with a lung disease means giving up most physical activities, including the sports that I once loved such as hockey and running. This was really hard for me to accept at first, especially since it was how I stayed active and it was a healthy way to burn off the stress of the day. However, with time, the difficulty of switching hobbies from physical activities to quieter, more creative ones has become a lot easier and I am thankful for time to explore new hobbies that make me equally happy.
- What I value and cherish: this also sounds like a cliché, but following a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, it feels important to identify what is meaningful to you or brings you joy. This should be true for even those without a chronic illness, but I have spent time thinking about what makes me happiest in this life and making changes to focus on those things. One of the biggest things I’ve realized throughout this journey is just how unimportant materialistic things are. For example, a thirty-dollar watch and a three hundred dollar watch both tell the same time. Quality time with family and friends is something I really cherish now, and I’m not sure I would have experienced this change so early in my life if it weren’t for my diagnosis of IPF.
What are some of the non-physical changes you’ve had to endure since your IPF/PF diagnosis?
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