Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Quite a cough
It's, on average, the number of times a day someone makes a comment about my cough. (Really, I've been counting.) Which means that four is also the number of times each day that a comment about my cough is followed by a little white lie- usually something to the effect of these darn allergies, I just can't seem to kick this cold, or yes, I think a cough drop might help, thank you.
You see, I could explain the real reason I cough so much, but I figure nobody really wants to know. They're just making small talk. Imagine what someone's reaction might be when they said something completely harmless like "That's some cold you have" and I answered with "Oh, it's not really a cold. It's a physically and emotionally painful, progressive, life-shortening disease that will ultimately be the death of me. But, have a fantastic day." (I would never say that, by the way.)
If you or a loved one happen to have CF, then you are probably very familiar with the persistent cough that is par for those of us with the disease. For those of you who may not know what I'm talking about, let me tell you a little something: I COUGH ALL THE TIME.
I cough when I exercise, when I laugh, when I vacuum, as I do the dishes, throughout and for quite sometime after my breathing treatments, when I walk up my stairs, during sex (oh yes, I went there), as I carry groceries into the house, when I'm showering, after I've sneezed, if I take a deep breath too quickly, when I sing and even while I'm sleeping. Basically, anything I do that requires any amount of physical activity makes me cough, and quite often when I'm completely at rest, I still cough. And this is all very normal for me. So normal, in fact, that most of the time I don't even realize I'm doing it.
Case in point: just the other day, my two year old nephew, Logan, must have noticed my cough for the first time because he totally called me out on it.
"Are you sick, Jenny?"
"Nope. I feel fine, buddy."
"Were you coughing?"
" I don't know.....Was I?......"
"You were. I think you're sick."
It threw me for a bit of a loop. I don't even give it a second thought when strangers ask if I need a cough drop or say something like "You've got quite a cold", but I've never had to explain things to someone so young, so innocent. After thinking about it for a few seconds, I said to Logan, "You think I'm sick? Well, I do cough a lot, but I feel GREAT today!" Then I picked him up in my arms, spun him in a circle, (coughed a few times) and gobbled his little tummy right up.
Later that evening, I kept replaying the moment in my head. He was satisfied with my answer, distracted by me swinging him around and tickling him. But, it really made me think...The day will come when Morgan realizes that not every mom does the Vest or nebulizers, or takes a handful of pills each time she eats, or spends weeks at a time in the hospital. When she's old enough to realize that her mom is "different" and begins questioning that, I'm going to need real answers. I won't be able to distract her with tickles each time she asks why I'm not always able to do things that other moms can. She deserves to know everything, but I'm not sure how or when to introduce her to this ugly aspect of our lives. I know I have time before that day comes, but there is no better time than the present to begin preparing for it.
It is now the number of times a day I'm trying to have patience and think of a real (positive, honest, and brief) answer before rattling off another white lie.