If I had to list my top three skills, it would be Star Wars debating, writing, and vomiting.
I’m a darn good vomiter. Nah, my head is stuck in the past. I’m not really good at it anymore.
But there were many years where I would vomit an average of four times every single day. Between the nauseating effects of medication, my lungs and stomach literally overflowing with thick mucus, and a vicious cough that gagged me… well, let’s just say CF isn’t ‘just’ a lung disease. It’s also a vomit disease (among many other things).
If you haven’t gotten the hint yet, this post doesn’t skirt around the nastiness of CF.
Anyway, I’d usually throw up at 7:30 a.m. while doing my morning treatments before school, then once during school or work after lunch time, then at 9 p.m. during my evening treatments, then 3 a.m. during my tube feedings. Most people would stay home if they vomited just once, but with CF you just kinda haveta accept that’s life and you still need to compete with all the “healthy people.” So I learned locations of public restrooms, I kept napkins and a toothbrush to clean up, I memorized which foods taste particularly nasty the second time, and the perfect angle to position my head and neck to avoid the vomit entering my lungs. And I got used to it. I could vomit and be back at taking my exams in a jiffy.
Now I’m gonna sidetrack so you understand why I’m revealing my vomit habits.
My feeding tube had a balloon that kept it secure in the stomach/intestine (so it doesn’t move around or fall out). About eleven days ago, the tube’s balloon burst. 14 inches of rubber was freely dangling about in my stomach while I scrambled to schedule an appointment to have it removed (frustratingly, I had to wait about nine days to get an appointment). I was in agonizing pain at times and having other stomach troubles. I even got so dehydrated I almost passed out in the middle of San Francisco! Thankfully, I got the tube removed an hour later (and it’s gone for good — after seven years of depending on it!).
Because of these troubles, I vomited. And I was not good at it. I moaned and yelled for my parents in the middle of the night. I don’t know what they could have done — I guess I just wanted someone to recognize my misery and pity me a bit. I’m a jerk when it’s 3 a.m. It just hurt so badly in my throat and nose. And ugh, so disgusting. Even after a few mouthwash rinses, I felt contaminated. How did I do this multiple times a day for years?
Today, after most symptoms cleared (and I lost six pounds), I hiked up some stairs to a summit in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The gorgeous views from those mountains always get me thinkin’.
The torturous vomiting was a daily, common reality during my CF days. It’s been about eight months since I’ve been that nauseous, so I guess I’ve just been spoiled since then. All around the world, there are others with CF and other conditions still living that reality.
I used to feel so frustrated when people would complain about their colds or flu when I was dealing with so many infections. It wasn’t until recent years that I realized that wasn’t fair of me — that we all have our perspectives. For someone who’s barely experienced sickness, ‘small’ germs will have an immense effect. For someone who’s battled huge diseases or cancer, a cold might seem ‘easy’ in comparison. That’s how built-up tolerance works.
I always thought nausea and vomiting was terrible, yes, but it was a normal occurrence for me. Once I’d gone several months without it happening, it was awful. I just wasn’t used to that kind of pain again. I thought, “Oh. So this is why healthy people hate vomiting so much.” It fuels my belief that we shouldn’t look down on others for those having suffering on different levels than us because of unshared life experiences.
Things like this humble me and make me realize how blessed I am to have put many aspects of CF behind me. And it makes me want to work even harder to help other people with CF.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
Thank you for sharing this. It helps the layperson not only understand more about CF but it also puts things in perspective that we don’t know the suffering and illnesses that others go through! We must go on in all our struggles in this life. We know that we don’t walk this way alone because God is with us always! In nature, we are selfish people. We all must take a look at others through God’s eyes and not our on. Keep writing my friend! God is blessing others a through your words.
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It was just Invisible Illness Week, so I’m glad I could provide some perspective on that!! Thank you so much ❤
Your words, as always, are inspiring, bro… I am dealing with some Double-A health issues (as in not quite Minor League but not Tripple-A either) of my own as well as those of my immediate family. For myself, the big demonic thoughts go like, Why can’t things be the way they used to be? Or in the case of my father, Why is not able to be there for me in the way that he always has been? Why am I now saddled with tasks and obstacles that were once easy for all of us? In reading your stuff, it always snaps me into focus. My most difficult day is someone else’s dream. Mine are mostly First World or, more to the point, White People problems. For this I am extremely grateful as well as immediately inspired to work harder, wake up earlier, be more forgiving, seek God and gratitude in every opportunity.
The one rub that I would caution you against is where you say stuff like, “so I guess I’ve just been spoiled since then.” From a journalistic perspective, qualifiers such as “I guess” or “just” are red flags to any editor. They soften your argument and should be eliminated or reframed without compromise. From a psych POV, you need not feel bad for feeling good or vice versa. “Spoiled” implies some indulgence that you don’t deserve. To this let me ask, after what you and your family have been through to get where you are now, what of life’s pleasures and rewards are you not deserving?
Hope your troubles ease up soon! Same for your family’s. I’m also humbled in my perspective many times when encountering others who have it way worse than I ever did. There’s always someone having it worse.
And I use words like “I guess” and “just” as sarcasm indicators/my voice (; Blog writing, not essay writing! Thanks for the feedback, though!
One side of me is saying let this go. After all, who am I? I don’t have the discipline to blog about my experiences be they mundane or life threatening. Plus no one likes to be criticized when they are in the mode of free writing or online journaling. Whereas the other side, perhaps the darker, more combative aspect my inner self, is now taking the wheel.
I am not alone in my campaign against qualifiers in any mode of writing or speech, be they for mock self-deprication or even sarcasm. There are other smarter means to those ends, especially for a man of letters.
“It’s just a blog” vs “It’s a blog.”
“It’s just a job” vs “It’s a job.”
“It’s just a date” vs “It’s a date.”
“It’s just a sermon” vs “It’s a sermon”
So do what you want, homie. Truly! But my not so humble opionion is that “just” is a crutch and, more often than not, a toxic undermining of what one has to say. True, false, nitpicky or hyperbolic, what would one’s formal writing, emails and even text messages look like with and without it?
Just sayin’. 😉
I know the problems associated with it’s usage. I’ve been an editor and writer for years now.
This is my blog and I choose to write conversationally — as I would if I were speaking out loud (my posts are usually unrevised freewriting). I, and probably you, have frequently used “just” and “I guess” in sarcastic speech. Sarcasm was used because I know it isn’t a “spoiled” life if deaf, requiring many painful procedures, and undergoing periods of mental health issues. But as written about, it is all still easier than CF life, which is why I didn’t outright say my life has sucked since transplant. It’s all relative.
I have different styles of writing for blogs, magazines, newspapers, social media posts, and essays. My blog is where I choose to let myself be loose.
I’ll get to your private messages soon, Ian! Have a lot of work to catch up on after the events of this past week.
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Am aware of your writing & editorial prowess, which is why your POV interests me on what other people don’t give much thought. I especially liked your piece for CF News Today. Muscular yet sincere.
The PM’s seem to have a shelf-life so don’t sweat it as you have more than enough on your plate! ✌🏽💛🤙🏾
I guess I just want people to be as self-aware as you are.
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