Friday, May 20, 2011

Gopher's and Cystic Fibrosis: Part II

Continued from Tuesday's blog...

On Tuesday I talked about the problems that are going on in my garden. To recap, in case you didn't have a chance to read Tuesday's blog (which can be found here), I had a gopher that was slowly making his way through my planters and garden eating everything in his path. It started out simply not knowing what the problem was, but as soon as I figured out that it was indeed a gopher I hesitated to react. At first I hesitated because I simply didn't know what to do, but after some research and figuring out exactly what to do, I still did nothing. This went on for a handful of days as I basically waited for the gopher to make his way to the largest part of my garden - the part full of strawberries, zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes, onions and a variety of herbs. I knew the time was coming when I would go out and find my garden completely destroyed, yet I did nothing.

Towards the end of Tuesday's blog I hinted at the fact that I thought the story had a lot of parallels with the CF life. Specifically, I think the story has a lot of parallels with some seasons in my CF life. I asked you all if you saw any similarities or parallels between the story of the Gopher in the garden and the CF life and a few of you gave some very good answers. In fact, there were some answers that I hadn't even thought about. I found it especially interesting to see which answers came from CFers in the community, and which answers came from parents in the community. It makes perfect sense why they would be different. It's certainly not too late for you to read Tuesday's blog and tell me what you think.

The purpose of today's blog, however, is to tell you what I think and how I think it relates to my CF life.

Let's get one thing out of the way, I've been far from perfect in navigating this life my entire life. There have been seasons that I have done really well for a really long time and there have been seasons that I've done very poorly for a really long time. There have also been blips along the way where I stumbled for a couple of weeks or conversely I was "on fire" for a couple of weeks. It is important to realize that although we all have a different story, many of us travel the same path for at least a little bit of the time. And just like the different answers and responses I got to Tuesday's blog, I may interpret the story an entirely different way as it relates to my life.

There have been times in my life when I knew exactly what I needed to do to give myself the best shot at being healthy, yet I did nothing. My parents, doctors and friends would tell me exactly what I needed to be doing (ie treatments, exercise, tuneups). However, even though I believed them, I acted as if I did not. I'm convinced looking back at all of the times I said, “treatments don't help me” or “exercising isn't worth it” that I was using it as a defense
mechanism. The bottom line was I simply just didn't want to do those things. I had the ability, the time, and the resources to take care of myself. I just simply chose not to. The crazy part is that I knew I was getting sicker, that I was feeling different (and not in a good way), and yet it's like I was waiting for it to get “bad enough” for me to do anything about it. I knew that they were all right and what they were saying was exactly what I should be doing, but at the time I just felt like they didn't “get it”.

The problem with how I handled those instances is that every time I allowed my health to get “bad enough”, I suffered for it. Take, for example, the summer between eight grade and my freshman year of high school. I spent all of my time with my friends having sleepovers, hitting on girls and preparing to be a big, bad, high school student. I certainly felt invincible, and was too "busy" to do my treatments. My doctors knew how important the upcoming football season was to me and stressed that I should buckle down on my treatments and take care of myself in order to be successful in the upcoming season. But I ignored them. In the back of my mind, I knew they were right, but I was having too much fun "living life" (as I said) to be bothered with doing everything they said I should do. Well, the end of summer came, and instead of heading out onto the football field, I had to go to the hospital for 10 days and missed the first football game - a game I had worked for, and looked forward to, my whole life.

Point is, even though I knew that not putting my health first would ultimately cost me, I still made the wrong decision. But all it took to snap me back into reality was missing that first football game. I remember getting phone calls from my teammates to my hospital room after the game and feeling a deep sense of regret. What if I would have put my health first that entire summer and not my friends or what I thought of as "life"? What if I would have given up just one hour a day to completely devote to my health? Would things have turned out differently? Of course I'll never know the answer, but I can say with confidence that putting my health first would have given me the best shot at playing in that game.

This scenario also wasn't just isolated to 1993. As I got comfortable and the harsh lesson wore off, I would slip back into non-compliance - sometimes for a long period of time and sometimes for a short period of time. But in those times I slacked off, just like that gopher, CF wasn't taking any days off. Just like that gopher, CF was going to continue on its mission. And it wasn't until there were consequences and lessons that I would intervene.

There are always consequences to my health and my life if I chose not to do anything to fight my CF, just like there are consequences in my garden if I don't do anything to fight off that gopher. So now I challenge myself each day to fight that dang "gopher," show it who's boss, and I will win. The fruit in my life is much sweeter and much richer than anything I can grow in my garden.