Turning the negatives of the pandemic into positives
I found myself daydreaming lately about a return to normal. I long for the days when we didn’t need face masks, when I could see someone’s smile during a conversation, and when hand sanitizer wasn’t the most common smell I encountered .
Most people who know me would describe me as a very social person. I like being around others. My wife, Susan, and I loved to hold gatherings in our house. Our friends and neighbors looked forward to our Halloween celebrations every year. We loved to travel and have visited seven continents together.
I continued to enjoy these things even after my diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in early 2017. But it all came to a screeching halt in March 2020 when the pandemic hit. I miss these things, but the changes the pandemic has brought have forced me to become more introspective and try to adapt in the midst of so much change.
Rules for a new world
Shortly after March 2020, basic advice from my healthcare team was to wear a mask if I went out, wash my hands, use hand sanitizer, and avoid large groups, especially in enclosed spaces . Over time, this advice has been supplemented with recommendations for getting vaccinated and how to deal with unvaccinated people. Except for medical appointments, I stayed home. I’m sure many people with some form of pulmonary fibrosis can identify with the solitude of the pandemic.
But I had to pivot. This very sociable person had to figure out how he was going to spend his time without giving up his sanity.
Look into my hobbies
I had hobbies long before there was a pandemic, which gave me plenty of time to pursue them again. A long-time amateur radio operator, I started to spend more time on the air. I rediscovered the pleasure of talking to people on the other side of the world with a modest antenna, which led me to this hobby decades ago.
One of my love languages is cooking. I like to cook, especially for others. Now, with only two of us in the house, we had to moderate my love of cooking to avoid destroying the scale. A diet of fresh bread and rich Italian sauces was becoming all too common. On a positive note, it has become much easier for us to adjust our meals based on the recommendations of our healthcare team’s dietitian.
I started riding motorcycles as a teenager. As my condition worsened, I sold my Harley-Davidson cruiser about 18 months before my bilateral lung transplant last summer. I wasn’t able to ride safely on oxygen, and honestly, that was part of getting my stuff in order. It would be one less thing for Susan to deal with after I passed away.
But now I’m back to riding. Horseback riding is freedom for me. It can be enjoyed with Susan or just me alone.
To learn new things
During the pandemic, I also kept trying to learn new skills. While some have been successful, some are in the works and will require post-pandemic human interaction.
I studied and got my drone license. I don’t own a drone so this is a bit humorous for me.
I keep learning to play chess after watching”The Queen’s Bet.” And Susan and I, having mastered putting on my post-transplant medication for the week, started looking for a new activity we could do together. We opted for pickleball and are actively looking for a class to take when the weather gets a bit warmer.
We’ve also mastered Zoom for many uses outside of virtual support group meetings. We now have Zoom date nights and Zoom calls to spend time with family and catch up with friends. We also used Zoom to participate in cooking classes.
Isolation doesn’t have to be lonely or boring
Loneliness doesn’t necessarily mean social isolation, and I’ve found things to do to prevent that from happening. This pandemic has changed the way the world will function for the immediate future, and perhaps even longer. But even in a pandemic, I can make every breath count.
How are you doing ? Have you revisited a long-held hobby or developed a new skill or hobby during this pandemic? Please share in the comments below.
To note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a disease news and information site. It does not provide medical advice, diagnostic, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnostic, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of anything you 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 relating to pulmonary fibrosis.