Working from home can benefit IPF patients

While the past two years have been traumatic and isolating, I believe some good things have come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be difficult to reformulate our thoughts to focus on the positive, but if you’re like me, these years have allowed for many moments of deep self-reflection.

Since the beginning of COVID-19, I’ve thought a lot about what’s important in life. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about what pre-pandemic habits I want to maintain or shed. I’ve also tried and learned new things about myself as a result of the pandemic that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Does that mean I’m glad COVID-19 emerged? Of course not, but I’m a half-full glass human trying to see the good as we learn to live with the virus that has ravaged our lives.

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One thing I’ve learned during the pandemic is how much I enjoy working from home. I remember being sent home in early March 2020, before the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. At the time, I was looking forward to the flexibility of working from home; This excitement was short-lived, however. I started to really miss my colleagues and the social connection of working in an office. I was desperate to return to personal work, and this dissatisfaction lasted much longer than I expected. Eventually I got into a groove at home that worked for me.

Fast forward to 2022 and I’m now enjoying working from home as I’ve found a routine that allows me to be productive. Two weeks ago I wrote a column about a new career opportunity that landed in my lap, and today I had an informal meeting with the agency’s new CEO. During our conversation we talked about what my ideal work environment would look like after the pandemic and whether I would prefer a hybrid model of working from home and office.

I’ve thought a lot about this question. It would be difficult to meet a new organization virtually, but working from home benefits me greatly as a patient with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). I am immunocompromised due to this cruel and debilitating lung disease which unfortunately makes me much more susceptible to illness. Being in an office during cold and flu season is very stressful, but working from home eliminates my potential exposure to germs.

I also appreciate the quiet of working at home because I’ve felt easily overwhelmed by overstimulation since my diagnosis. Also, IPF makes me feel tired in many ways, so it’s beneficial if I can rest or take a quick nap during my lunch break – something I wouldn’t be able to do when working in an office.

Most recently, I wrote about my experience of accidentally inhaling secondhand smoke, which got me hospitalized. While my workplaces have attempted to proactively reduce this risk for me and anyone else who may be sensitive to secondhand smoke, it’s difficult to eliminate completely. Since it is impossible to predict how others will behave, working from home is the best way to avoid this exposure.

It sounds like many post-pandemic employers will adopt a hybrid working model, and the more I think about it, the more I realize there’s a good thing in emerging from COVID-19. Working from home, at least in my line of work, wasn’t that open before. Many have asked if it would be effective, but we have learned it can be done.

I am grateful that this employment option has arisen as a result of COVID-19 as the benefits for those of us living with IPF are many.

Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is solely a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions about any medical condition. Never disregard or delay in seeking professional medical advice because you have read something on this site. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to stimulate discussion of issues related to pulmonary fibrosis.

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