I thought I would re-post this question and response because it applies to so many of us...
Young Girl's Post: Mods, feel free to move this, as I am a teenager, but I'm seeking advice that adults can help with. I have a feeling I've posted things like this before. In Jan, I was in the hospital, got a gtube..lungs went from 50% to 100%. Now, I am not sure..but I believe they are back at 50%. My weight has also dropped a few pounds because the machine was messing up. I don't know what to do with myself. I go into this cycle..hospital is great, but I don't do many of my meds at home. I can't keep doing this, I want to live a long life, and this isn't helping. I feel like crap, when I wake up I DREAD coughing because I know that I will be bringing a lot of stuff up..and many times I end up throwing up because of it. I have zero energy. I get out of breathe going up the stairs... At PE Thursday we I couldn't even run a full lap..I ran 1/4th, after that I felt horrible. What is wrong with me? Why does my mind not want to do these meds? I get so frustrated with myself..but I have no willpower. >>
MY CG Response:
I hope this young woman in reading your comments, and I think you gave her some wonderful advice! I want to key in on one point she said, (paraphrasing) "I'm afraid to start coughing."- a lot of times, the truth is, doing treatments, coughing up stuff, getting out of breath in exercise, all of it- is painful, scary, and can even feel life-threatening. Even I am in a high stakes negotiation with my team about how many times per day I can do "forced coughing" maneuvers to bring up junk. It makes my 02 drop to the 60s and is very stressful on my body.
My point: looking back, I realized that this fear of the pain and panic associated with coughing fits was causing me to avoid them AT ANY COST. There were times in my life when I would avoid ever exercising around other people (including walking to my car, walking to a meeting at work, or pushing myself in rehearsal.) There were times when I did not formally exercise at home for weeks because of my fear of coughing. There were time when I avoided my medicines because they would make me cough so hard. Sounds great- right? Get through each day and cough LESS?
The problem: Avoiding coughing and specifically the admittedly gross, sometimes painful, usually exhausting process of coughing up yuckies - it's like avoiding crying. You wait and you wait and you wait and then you stub your tow and cry your eyes out in front of all your friends! If you avoid coughing, your lungs will get swampier and swampier, until you will experience even worse coughing fits that you will not have any control over- which will feed your fear again.
I think it's important that you think about how you feel about coughing- if you need to be angry or sad about it- or just admit that it's freaking exhausting and plan to cough up your junk and take a nap- so that you can get to be more compliant.
I think this issue is one of the least talked about realities in CF, particularly for girls who are not as (bear with me here . . .) likely to feel normally spitting out goobers. Doctors don't even enjoy talking about it that much and very little patient education seems to focus on it in post-adolescence.
It's a gross, exhausting, unsexy, un-dainty, nasty, sad, thing.