Thursday, January 21, 2016

Being The Parent to a Teenager (With Cystic Fibrosis) Is Hard

It's been awhile since I've answered a question through the blog, or written anything for that matter, so hopefully this spurs me into writing more blogs!

Hey Ronnie. Hope you have been doing well! Question for u. I'm hoping u can give me some insight as to whether or not I'm being too nagging of a mom or not, and to see if you went through some of the feelings/emotions ______ is dealing with right now. 
First, please understand that it is essentially impossible to be a parent and not a nag. I can't imagine a world in which a caring and loving parent doesn't nag once in a while. Now, an apathetic parent won't nag, but if you're an apathetic parent and your child has cystic fibrosis, he or she is probably screwed.
He is 14 yo BTW. 
Say no more! I have known very few, if any, unemotional, or frankly, level-headed 14 year-olds. Certainly some of his response can be as an indirect result of having cystic fibrosis, but it is more likely due to many of the same issues most 14 year-olds go through socially, physically and mentally.
Anyway, he had his clinic visit last week. Not a great visit for him, as his weight and BMI continue to drol, along with the fact he has this lingering cough that reoccur after being off oral antibiotics for a week or 2. Anyway, since that visit he has been not himself. He is usually a pretty laid back, go with the flow, happy...and compliant....kid. But something changed in him after that appt. 
We all like to feel like we're in control and doing a "good job". My guess is that he felt like he had lost some control over his body and as a result "failing". With many CF patients I've known over the years a common response is, "What's the point of taking such good care of myself if it doesn't really matter anyway?". With this, they are saying that death is inevitable and taking good care of themselves doesn't seem worth it. In my opinion of course, they are missing the point. Yup, we're all going to die. I'm not concerned about that. I'm much more concerned about being at the top of my game while I'm alive. It would really suck to feel terrible, hate life and then die. I like the prospect of feeling good, loving life and then dying much better.
I've really been on his case about him taking over more responsibility when it comes to remembering to take his pills, especially his appetite stimulant. I've also been on his case that he needs to be eating more, as I'm afraid if his BMI drops anymore they'll want to do a feeding tube for nighttime.
I'm sure that he is more than aware of the possible consequence of not maintaining a healthy weight. You'd think that'd be a deterrent wouldn't you? Now, who has the ultimate decision to make whether or not he would get a feeding tube if he were to drop below a satisfactory weight? Are you going to make the decision? Will he?
Last night I saw a side of _____ I've never seen. After having a lengthy discussion about him just eating fries for lunch and not taking his pill, he freaked out. Went up to his room and was so angry he kicked the wall putting a hole in it. 
First, I hope that he will be paying to fix the wall. Second, sounds like a teenager. Third, he sounds ripe for natural consequences of his choices. Just as the consequence for kicking a hole in the wall is figuring out how to pay to repair it, the natural consequence of not taking your appetite stimulant and maintaining a healthy weight is medical intervention. It's not a punishment, it's just the result of his choice. Now, if he's making the decision and elects not to get a g-tube, he'll have to deal with those consequences as well.

On a personal note, my mom made basically every medical decision for me until I moved out of the house at 20 years of age. If I lived under her roof, I went by her rules. Her number 1 rule for me was to do what was best for my health. Missing treatments wasn't a option and I often had a tune-up if my numbers slipped just a bit.
Mind you, this is sooooo out of character for him. I tried getting him to talk about what he was feeling, but couldn't get him to open up. I'm guessing he's annoyed as heck with me nagging him about all this CF stuff, and I think he's just plain pissed he can't be a "normal" kid and not have all the worries/responsibilities that CF brings. 
So, is his big issue the appetite stimulant? If he does all his other therapies, which require a lot more time, but has an issue with a pill, I feel like there is something bigger going on. Does he take it at home? Id his issue taking it at school?
My heart is sad for him. I explained to him I don't mean to be a nag....that I am just trying the best I know how to prepare him for taking care of himself when he goes off to college. 
I'm sorry. Being a parent is sooooo hard. Being a parent to someone with a chronic illness can be even tougher.
Do you remember getting upset with your folks like this when it came to CF stuff? 
I'm sure I had my moments, but honestly, my mom established early that it was her way or the highway. I got upset about plenty of stuff, but generally speaking, it wasn't CF related. Maybe it was because the burden of treatment time wasn't as lengthy for me when growing up? Remember, I didn't have a Vest until I was 19 and Pulmozyme came out when I was 14 or so. Until I was 14, I only got pounded by hand twice a day, did albuterol and of course the various pills.
Any words of wisdom or advice you could give me would be appreciated more than you know. Sorry to ramble on, bit I thought you'd be a great person for me to get some input from. Thanks.
I don't have many regrets, but one of them makes since to share here. I made some very bad decisions when I thought life was all about me, friends, school/work, sports and having fun. I've ALWAYS loved my life, but I definitely made decisions in spite of CF and far too often ignored my CF to "be one of the guys" and not let CF or my treatments get in the way. I always felt like a fit in, that wasn't it, but I was too stubborn to let CF cause me to "miss out" on something. If it were a choice between doing a treatment or getting ready to hang with friends, guess what I would do? Deciding to get to the bar early or do my nighttime treatment often resulted in me getting to the bar early. Getting a mid-day treatment in was often trumped by working as much as I could during the day.

Looking back, none of that mattered. Did I have fun? YUP! Was I helping people and making the world a better place? I hope. Would I take it all back to not have to do so many treatments now and miss time with my family? In a heartbeat. I can't tell you how many Valentine Days and anniversaries I've missed because I was in the hospital. It sucks. I feel guilty. I feel completely selfish for the decisions I made in my 20's that lead to a huge drop in my health.

I wish I wouldn't have "lived" so much then so I could live with my family more now. I wasn't nearly mature enough to realize that then and honestly, I don't know what someone could have said or done to change those decisions.

As a parent, I think you need to try and picture yourself 10 years from now and look back and make decisions now that you'll be comfortable with. Make sense?

My mom was tough. There were a lot of times that she wasn't nice. I certainly "hated" her in some moments. But I know she can look back with confidence in the decisions she made with me knowing that they were the best at that time and with the son she had. I love her to pieces and am so thankful for the mom that she was.