Facing a Serious Health Condition—Stories of Strength and Life with a Rare Lung Disease
North American Precis Syndicate
Ginger and Nick are living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). (NAPS)
(NAPSI)—Being diagnosed with a serious disease can be devastating.
That’s how Nick, 72, felt when he discovered he has a rare and severe
lung condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF. Ginger, 68, said
learning she has IPF was the scariest time of her life.
Chronic diseases such as IPF—which causes permanent scarring to the
lungs, making breathing difficult—have an emotional impact in addition
to the physical limitations they may cause. Caregivers and other loved ones
share the burden too. It isn’t easy to adjust to the “new normal”
of life with a serious health condition, whether it affects you or someone
you are caring for, but learning how to manage the condition can empower you
or your loved one to face the challenge.
To encourage others with serious health conditions to take action in
managing their diseases, Nick, Ginger and their families and friends share
their stories of strength and support in facing IPF on www.aarp.org/ipf. Here are some of the
lessons they’ve learned in their journeys:
1. Be proactive and learn about
your options. If you are diagnosed with a chronic disease or other
medical condition, it’s important to become educated about what options
are available to manage it. Initiating conversations with your doctor and
asking questions soon after diagnosis are important first steps. This is
especially true if your disease is progressive, or worsens over time.
IPF is one such progressive disease, as lung function lost due to scarring
cannot be reversed. When Nick learned this, he discussed ways to manage the
condition with his doctor, including FDA-approved medicines and a pulmonary
rehabilitation program, which can help ease symptoms of breathlessness.
“Through pulmonary rehab, I’ve learned how to recognize the
signs of my oxygen level dropping and how to breathe efficiently, and those
two things have made a big difference,” Nick says.
In addition to participating in pulmonary rehab, Ginger learned about the
importance of using oxygen therapy during day-to-day activities to help
manage her IPF.
If you are living with a serious health condition, it’s important to
manage your symptoms and also discuss recommended lifestyle changes with your
doctor that may help you be healthier overall, such as adjusting your diet
and quitting smoking.
2. Seek out and lean on your
support system. Support groups provide an opportunity to connect with
others with similar experiences, and the mental and emotional support they
offer helps people develop a more resilient mindset. You can find online or
in-person IPF support groups on the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s
website at www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org/life-with-pf/support-groups.
Nick and Ginger have also found comfort in leaning on their loved ones
during difficult times. For Ginger, it’s her son Kenny, daughter-in-law
Megan and many dear friends. For Nick, it’s his wife Barbara, his
children and his community, where he taught and coached at the local high
school for 39 years.
“The love of my wife and family reminds me that, despite the
challenges, life is good, and there are too many moments of joy to be
thankful for. They remind me to do everything I can do to stay on the right track
with my health and keep moving forward,” says Nick.
3. Focus on the present and make
the most of everyday moments. Feeling down in the face of a chronic
disease is understandable, but living in the present instead of fearing the
future or dwelling on the past may help you appreciate the everyday moments
that make you happy.
Nick says he focuses on what he can do instead of what he can’t. He
may not be able to go for runs anymore but he can still enjoy walks around a
nearby lake and being outside.
Ginger finds strength through time and laughter with family and friends. “I
want to continue being a good mom and a good grandma. I love to laugh and I
want my loved ones to know I’m happy even though I have IPF. I fight
for my family. They’re my world,” she says.
For additional information about IPF and to watch videos of Nick, Ginger
and their loved ones, visit www.aarp.org/ipf.
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)