Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Do you cough in public?

I was so excited to answer this question as I know plenty of other cysters and fibros struggle with this issue - coughing in public. I hope this answer gives you the confidence to cough like there is no tomorrow...even if you makes others uncomfortable.

I have a question for the CF "expert" wink 
So i've got that LOVELY CF cough goin' on right now. Luckily right now it's mostly dry so I don't have too much mucus coming up. But you know the drill, a coughing spell every few minutes or so. How should i handle going to dance? Should I skip out until my cough hopefully calms down a little bit? Because I don't want CF to hold me back any, but i also know the realistics of it. I mean I wouldn't want to dance with someone who kept coughing, even if I was told it wasn't contagious. Because a few of the classes we rotate with all the partners which means gettin' all up and close and personal with everybody multiple times through. I can exercise here at the house for the time being, but i also love dance and miss the people (i've been gone doing a CF study for the past 2 weeks so I haven't been able to see them or go dancing. Sadness!!) . What's the smart thing to do? I want to do what i love, but I also want to be smart and considerate of others.

Alright, first things first, I'm humbled you'd even care what I think about this. Second, I'm no expert, and I actually recommend doing the exact opposite of anything I suggests to be on the safe side :) Third, I'd love to share my thoughts with you!

Let's establish this - coughing is a good thing. Yeah it's annoying (both to us and others), but it's playing a vital role in keeping our lungs clear. I myself am a cougher whether I'm at 30% lung function or 100% lung function. In fact, I give much credit to my cough for keeping my lungs relatively clear my entire life. Sometimes I bring up junk and sometimes I don't. In fact, I've coughed about 10 times since writing this response and have only brought up the goobery goo on two of those coughs.

Coughing can indicate that you are experiencing an exacerbation or outside sickness, but it can also be an indication of asthma, allergies or nothing.

So now that you know coughing is completely okay (at least in my eyes), what do you do about it in public?

I think you know my answer - I cough, and I don't care where I am. I'm at the gym 6 days a week. 3 of the days I do partner work in a fitness class and three of those days I'm in a small room with others doing a core class. Needless to say, I'm coughing near, on and around all of them.

Apparently I don't have a lot of pictures of me coughing.
This was the only one I could find off-hand and it's very old!
If I end up with a new partner, and I've already started coughing before the workout even began, I usually go with one of three phrases that all start with "Don't worry, I'm not going to get you sick....

a) I have Cystic Fibrosis and part of it is that I cough a lot, especially during workouts.

b) I have asthma and my lungs are extra tight today.

c) I'm just a cougher.

One of those three answers always seems to put my partner at ease and we can move on with the class.

When it comes to coughing in public, frankly, I'm not very considerate - especially if I'm doing something beneficial for my health. The truth of the matter is that clearing out my lungs and doing something that in the long run is beneficial to me and my family is WAY more important than the thoughts, stares and feelings of others.

It reminds me of a blog I wrote a while back about being selfish. There are times in this CF life that you HAVE TO be selfish. The funny thing is that often, by being selfish, we are doing one of the most selfless things that we could ever do. The blog is here if you're interested:

So what do I think the smart thing to do is? Dance and cough your little booty off!!

Sometimes life calls for us being comfortable with making others uncomfortable.

Hope this helps :)