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      Working full-time with a chronic lung disease, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is not ideal in many different ways. However, sometimes patients have to remain working due to financial constraints or being on a single income. After being diagnosed with IPF in early 2016, it was my personal commitment to remain working as long as I could. I wanted this for both personal and financial reasons.

      I enjoy my job and the privilege of working with children and families who are going through challenging times. I also am very committed to professional development and ongoing learning: there is so much knowledge and experience(s) to be had in this world, and I want to know them all. I am aware that this is unrealistic, but with that said, I thoroughly enjoy attending professional development seminars, webinars or conferences. My diagnosis of IPF has certainly made that more difficult throughout the past few years.

      This past week I was attending a conference on professional development, and I realized how difficult it was to keep up with everyone while living with a life-threatening lung disease. This was a tough realization for me. Since my IPF diagnosis, it is no secret that I no longer have the stamina that I once did, and at this conference specifically, I felt stuck in this vortex of wanting to do it all and needing to rest my body and mind from all the information coming my way. This vortex and need for balance is something many IPF patients experience in their lives, not just at events such as professional development conferences.

      Below are some tips on how to conserve your energy at these types of events in order to attend as much as possible:

      • Disclosing your lung disease: while doing this brings with it some vulnerability and discomfort, it also enabled me to be able to ask for help from others attending the conference. It is hard to hide that I have a lung disease anyways due to my large oxygen tank, but letting people know why I have it and what I might need help with has been extremely beneficial for me as I navigate the long, exhausting days of the conference.

       

      • Don’t try to keep up: this feels a little backwards to me, because professional development conferences are all about taking in as much of the content and information-sharing as possible. However, I learnt quickly once this conference began that there were going to be early mornings and late nights, between both the conference content and opportunities for socializing. I also quickly found out that if I tried to keep up my stamina throughout the conference, I’d pay for it either in the form of a medical emergency or illness that could lead to trouble for me. As a result of this, I intentionally chose which learning modules to attend and when to take a break during the day.

       

      • Get a buddy: networking and meeting new people is one of my favourite parts of conferences, so when this can be dually-beneficial for me in terms of having an extra set of hands, it can be really comforting. Similar to my experience, you may also be shocked to find out just how many similarities you have with someone you’ve just met.

       

      Do you have any tips to share on conserving your energy during large social or professional events, when you might want to ‘do it all’? 

       

       

       

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