Thursday, June 17, 2010

"That's Some Cold You Got There"

I pulled this blog with permission from CysticLife as it was one of my favorite that I have read in a while. I've actually featured Lauren's work on here before as she is a VERY talented young cyster in whom I have a GREAT deal of respect for. She has spunk, soul and a never quit attitude that will always put a smile on your face. Please visit her blog here and check out some of her other fantastic writings.


With CF, coughing becomes almost as natural as breathing. You don't realize how normal it is to you and to the people who know you until you are around someone who doesn't know you. The most common person for me is someone like a new professor, a hair-dresser, or a new colleague. Usually people I just meet will comment “That is some cold you got there.” They'll usually ask if I'd like a cough drop or a glass of water. Though inside I'm saying, “Yeah right, I could only wish a cough drop would help,” I usually just accept the water to be polite. That sort of comment is completely innocent given the context, given that they know nothing about me, in fact, I wouldn't think anything of it if I DID have a cold. Usually to those people (until I get to know them better) I just respond something along the lines of, "yeah I have a lung thing... I'm usually coughing a lot I wouldn't worry about it." Or if it is someone who I won't ever see again, I use “I'm just getting over a cold” “Its allergies” “The air is dry in here” or whatever else comes to mind.

It is rare, however, that someone is so bold to ask about my cough in a way that doesn't assume I'm sick with something common and/or contagious. The other day, a person I had recently met asked ( & not at all rudely), “Hey what's that cough you got there, Lauren” because (as she explained) she is attuned to coughs since both she and her daughter have bad cases of asthma. Since she was so polite about it, I told her I have a lung condition called cystic fibrosis and though it is for the most part under control, I still have a persistent cough. She apologized for being “nosey” but she didn't have to. I told her I'd prefer if people would just ask. I give her credit for asking instead of assuming.

I never have minded telling anyone about my CF because i've never had a problem with anyone treating me differently because of it. I believe I should be truthful instead of allowing people to assume. That is not to say, however, that when I meet someone new I say, “Hi, I'm Lauren. I have CF.” But if they are so interested to ask, I will gladly tell them and answer any questions they have. If more people did this (about ANYTHING) I think a lot more people would be all the more informed and all the less ignorant. People should ask more questions to learn about other walks of life, other points of view, and other ways of looking at things.

I'll never forget when I asked one of my hall-mates this year how the tattoo she just got was meaningful to her. Her eyes lit up and she said, “Ya know, no one has asked me that yet” and went on to explain how “words, words, words” was a line from shakespeare and how it explains her outlook on life, how so much more could be solved if people just used their words and communicated more effectively. That has stuck with me, and if I hadn't asked, I wouldn't have been able to see the valuable message that she was trying to convey.

There are certain times when your own morals should tell you when asking questions is “nosey” and when asking questions is helpful. If there is something that you are unfamiliar with,you should try your best to learn about it. I'll use the example of someone's religion. If you just met someone who was Islamic and you didn't know anything about their religion, would you ask about it? The people who you ask these questions to are usually un-offended as long you are polite about it. Just put yourself in their shoes, would you be offended if someone asked you about your religion? In fact, a lot of problems in this country would be solved if some uninformed people asked a Muslim about their God and about their beliefs (for example)... they would be surprised how many of the same beliefs they shared. Use good judgement when being a question-asker though. Instead of assuming and saying “You're Muslim, you must not mind suicide bombers,” ask “Could you tell me more about your religion?” or “What kinds of things does the Koran teach or tell?” You may learn that suicide bombers are extremists and hardly represent the majority of the population, or that Muslims have some mighty fine morals.

So ask a vegetarian what made them decide to refrain from meat, ask someone who has lost weight how they did it, ask someone where they got such a cute shirt, ask someone who disagrees with you why they feel that way. I'm not saying to butt into everyone's business whenever possible though. There are certain times when question asking is not appropriate. For example: asking about someone's private personal life or asking questions for the sake of gossip. Questions should be asked in order for knowledge to be attained. And the more we learn from asking questions, the better off we'll all be. So here's to the question-askers, the answer-seekers, the knowledge-absorbers. I know the person who asked me about my cough is a good person because she dared to learn about someone else's situation. I hope that the next time she hears about a Great Strides Walk or even meets someone else with a cough like mine, she remembers how meaningful it was for her to ask.

I encourage you to stop by Lauren's blog today and give her a little shout-out. I want to make sure that she knows her work is very much appreciated!! Thank you SO MUCH for all of your positive contributions to this community cyster!!!