Monday, June 4, 2012

Telling People You Have CF

"I have CF."

It's not that simple, when it comes to sharing you have CF.

Growing up in a town of around 7,000, where we had tons of benefits for me when I was younger, it was no suprise that EVERYONE knew I had Cystic Fibrosis.  I guess I never really thought about it either. I never felt "not normal" or "weird" about my CF (even with all my hospitalizations and surgeries).

In 2006 that all changed. I moved to Champaign, for college. I didn't know many people there and nobody had a clue I had CF. When I would cough, I would get some sympathetic "oh she's sick" looks, or some would actually comment on my "needing to quit smoking."

Then the Swine Flu became a huge epidemic and I actually had a professor cringe away from me in disgust and say "you shouldn't go out if you are sick; you could have swine flu" I replied "Don't worry,  I don't have Swine Flu". She continued in a rude manner, "Well, maybe you should see a doctor and make sure."

I started to walk away, but decided to walk back; I said in a rather annoyed and harsh tone, " I don't have swine flu and I'm sick of people avoiding me, why does everyone jump to conclusions? I have Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease and can't help that I cough! Think about that next time you want to be rude."

I couldn't beleive it...I talked back to an Architecture professor...What was I thinking?

However, she chased me down and apologized; apparently, she had some kind of disability and felt really ashamed she jumped to conclusions. That day I realized I had to actually start telling people about my CF.  I started telling friends and suprisingly most weren't weirded out.

However, it still isn't easy telling people or explaining it to them. It is even harder to tell someone AFTER you have become good friends. So now, I usually try to bring it up, without just saying, "Hi, Nice to meet you, I'm Cheriz and I have CF." That would be awkward!

So even though it's still weird, I'm okay with telling people. It's better people know rather then assume I'm sick/contagious. Plus, it's too hard to hide it and you end up skipping meds (Sadly, I did this quite a bit at U of I). Never again.

It may always be difficult explaining you have CF, but I'm not ashamed or embarrassed I have CF, so why hide it.

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