Growing up with cystic fibrosis, or any chronic illness, requires an immense amount of responsibility at an early age. And when I was a kid, the only thing I wanted to be responsible for was the remote control so that I could watch Disney and Nickelodeon cartoons.
I had my techniques for cutting short my treatment time.
The vest machine I used to shake the mucus out of my lungs, had a timer on it, similar to an egg timer. If I turned it ever so slightly, I could cut off a minute or two when I was tired of being attached to it. DING! And it was over.
I was also doing nebulizers, and the little cup that held the liquid medication could be easily opened, and the medication poured out. When the treatment got to be too long, pop goes the lid, and out goes the medicine.
But the best days were when I could fight my way out of a treatment session, screaming and crying whenever I didn’t want to do it, taking it out on my well-meaning dad who just wanted to take care of me.
My parents were relentless.
They bargained and begged on my most difficult days, but mostly, they just showed me they loved me and that they were going to be there for me throughout it.
This took the form of dad playing games with me while I shook attached to the vest, or mom preparing my nebs for me so that I could go out and play once I was done.
But what stuck out for me most is something my mom always used to say, “Lauren, we’re making you do this because we love you, and we want to keep you healthy.”
As I grew up, this phrase stuck with me, and after some hard lessons of the consequences of skipping those treatments, the phrase was turned around “I’m doing this because I love them, and I want to be healthy for them.”
Children tend to be selfish.
They move about the world trying to get what they can for themselves, but the problem is, they know what they want (to not do their treaments and play Barbies instead), but not what they need– to be healthy.
It was a long process before I understood what it meant to take control of my own health, and I write about this in my upcoming book that you can preview below.
But soon the selfishness of childhood shifts to a more mature understanding of the consequences.
Now that I’m into my adult life, the reasons I take care of myself have evolved and grown.
Of course, I still do it for my parents, but I also do it for my fiance, for my friends, and for my own future. Most importantly, the selfishness has come back around, in a new form. Now I understand that taking care of myself is important for myself, so that I can stick around and see what this life has to offer.
Doing those treatments has become a want and a need, because my parents were able to shape me into a responsible adult.
In my upcoming book, Growing Up Sick: The Secret to Happy Kids, I’ll go into more detail of how my parents got me to take charge of my health, and grow into a responsible adult.
You can get your very own sneak peek of the book by signing up for my email list at the bottom of the post.
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