Filtering by Tag: Empathy

Real 65 : A Testament to Love

Real 65 is a segment of Breathe 3-65 that is dedicated to entries and interviews sharing honest and personal experiences of living with, treating, and loving someone with Cystic Fibrosis. 
It is a place for all those impacted to share their stories. 

The complexity of CF extends far beyond the sticky mucus that fills the lungs, pancreas insufficiency, and skin dusted with salt- it's felt within every emotion, relationship, and mood. Living with CF can be both mentally and physically exhausting and that can often times come out upon friends and family. Today's guest post by Chrystal is an honest and real portrayal of the struggles of living with CF and the impact it can have on those closest to her. It also is a great testament to love and always finding gratitude for those who are willing to share in the journey of living with CF. 

"It's happened again.  I'm at the end of a long day of family activities and the exhaustion crept up on me...until it pounced suddenly and I snapped.  I think any mom can relate.  The three year old wants to play dress up with jewelry and I'm too tired to sit up straight.  Let alone see straight to fix the tiny clasp of a necklace.  She doesn't understand why I'm short with her.  She tries though.  She'll ask if I need a therapy, or she'll put her little hand on my chest and close her eyes for a few seconds.  And then announce that I'm all better.  So cute.  

There's a part of me that hates that she has to know I'm sick.  When I'm struggling to breathe or when it hurts to inhale deeply, she watches me closely and seems to understand.  Maybe it's a gift I'm giving her, the gift of empathy.  Of seeing another person in pain and stopping what you're doing so that you can sit and be with them.  

Then there's my husband.  What a saint!  When CF literally takes my breath away and I need a therapy immediately, I can get pretty testy with anyone who gets in my way.  It just feels so urgent, the need to breathe.  And it is urgent.  But I've found there's a difference between what's urgent and what's important.  In the big picture, my need to breathe is not any more important than his need to feel appreciated.  

Even though it means sacrificing his needs at that moment, he consistently does whatever i need so that I can get my therapy done.   I find cf to be a task master at these times, my lungs demanding the relief that comes with airway clearance. So uncompromising, and potentially so hard on a marriage where compromise is essential. My dear husband will postpone his plans if our little girl isn't in the mood to sit through one of mommy's therapies.  They will leave the house so I can focus and do my best therapy possible.

What tears me up is when I catch myself snapping at him because, even though he's sacrificing his plans for the evening, I think he's not moving fast enough.  I forget his very important, though seemingly not urgent, needs.  In my haze of breathlessness I overlook the fact that he needs to hear an encouraging word from me.  A grateful word.  A long, heartfelt embrace.  Those things speak to him and meet his needs.  Even though, in the moment of exhaustion, I feel like I barely have the energy to breathe through my last therapy of the day.  Especially then, I need to pause, look him in the eye, and tell him how much he means to me.  How I couldn't do it without him.  That I like his sense of humor.  That I like him, period.

When we were dating, I told him I might not live long enough to celebrate any meaningful anniversaries.  Like a 10 year anniversary.  My thought was perhaps he would want to choose a different spouse that he could more likely grow old with.  His response, which I'll never forget, was "I don't care if I only get you till you're 30 or 40 or 50.  I want you."  Wow.  So sweet.  He is still the sweetest man I've ever met.  And the most forgiving.  

There are no guarantees in life, and I've learned that first hand.  I thought it was guaranteed that I wouldn't make it to 40 years old.  I thought I would never have a child of my own.  And I thought I could never respect and adore Lucas more than I did when we were dating.  But I find my admiration growing with every selfless act of my faithful husband.  Thank you, Lucas!"

- About Today's Contributor - 

Chrystal is a 42 year old with CF.  She has her degree in elementary education with a minor in family ministry. Her passion is her family: husband of 17 years, Lucas, and three year old daughter, Hadassah Joy.  In her free time, Chrystal enjoys rough housing with her dogs, playing at parks with her daughter, and discovering new restaurants to enjoy with her husband. Read Chrystal's other contribution to Breathe 3-65 - Chrystal & Lucy

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Clearly Invisible : A Season of Difficult Decisions

This segment of the blog is dedicated to shedding light on the invisible side of CF- striving to spark dialogue, cultivate understanding, and encourage compassion between all of us.

It’s that special time of year when we come together to celebrate, sharing laughter, traditions, and memories with our family and friends. Our calendars are filled with holiday celebrations and time with those we love. This time of year holds so much joy and excitement. But for many with chronic illnesses like cystic fibrosis, this time of year can cause a lot of anxiety and disappointment, and it can be filled with heartbreaking decisions.

People with CF are fighting today for the hope of more tomorrows. Sometimes that fight includes making the difficult decision to not attend a holiday celebration due to the risk of compromising their health. You see, this time of year paired with a room bursting with loved ones can be a breeding ground for germs and sickness. Things like the air exchange in a room, how many people are sharing the same air, and what might be thought of as a simple cold or the sniffles can be detrimental to the health of someone with CF. An uncovered cough and the sharing of unwanted germs can lead to days and weeks spent in the hospital, hours of extra treatments, course upon course of potent antibiotics, and the possibility of fewer tomorrows. 

So, how can you help the person you love with CF during this beautiful and memorable season of celebrating? Show your support by:

  1. Letting the person with CF or their parents know if you or anyone attending the celebration have been sick. This includes the common cold or a little cough.
     
  2.  Reminding the person or the parents of the child who may have to make that difficult decision that they are not alone. It’s often easier to make an emotional and difficult decision if we know we have your support and understanding. 
     
  3. Washing your hands more often and covering your cough when your loved one with a compromised immune system (in this case your loved one with CF) is present.

There’s nothing quite like the heartbreak of having to make the decision to miss out on sharing these special days with the ones you love. Our hearts race with anxiety as we weigh the risks of exposure and have to make that difficult decision, mulling over the unfair realities of a life with CF and the perceived disappointment of those we love, if we cannot commit to attending a celebration. Speaking as someone with CF, more than anything we do not want to miss out on such a special time of making new memories or be vacant from the irreplaceable presence of love shared with our friends and family. But, we must be protective of every breath we are given - all in hopes of the chance to spend another holiday sharing in the beauty and love of the season.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Clearly Invisible : The Unseen Side of CF

This segment of the blog will be dedicated to shedding light on the invisible side of CF- striving to spark dialogue, cultivate understanding, and encourage compassion between all of us.

 

Years ago, the effects of CF would manifest themselves visible to the outside world, but in today’s world there are very few telling effects of the destructive disease. CF is considered an invisible disease. Even in the end stages of the disease, CF might only make itself apparent through the need of being tethered to a constant supply of supplemental oxygen and IV polls. But without those accessories we would seamlessly blend into any crowd.

It may be one of the most difficult things about living a life with CF. Even thanks to small pre-portioned antibiotic boluses, we can carry on seemingly normal lives. CF manifests itself beneath the surface of our skin and blindly away from the eyes of the mainstream world. It makes it difficult for others to see the destruction and seriousness happening within our bodies. Thanks to social media and some passionate people willing to open their honest lives living with CF to the world, the invisible side of this disease is being exposed and shared - something that takes great bravery and strength. It also invites loved ones into the unseen side of CF and allows ourselves to freely share who we are.
 

What we see on the outside never tells the entire story of who we really are - for any of us, whether CF is a part of that equation or not. The greatest gift we can give each other is the gift of empathy, and that comes from investing and sharing who we really are with one another. We may not be able to truly understand someone’s life or what they’re going through, but we can embody what those emotions and experiences feel like. We are all connected by the feelings and power of pain, heartache, joy, and happiness.

Here’s to opening the world to the invisible side of CF and bravely sharing our voice. What do you see when you see CF? We'd love to hear from you.
 


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Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.