Why I leave my “CF Card” at home

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Erin Evans

In November, my husband, Scott, and I FINALLY moved into the house we’d been building for the last year. Nobody likes moving, but we took comfort in the fact that it was our last move. Ever. So moving all of our stuff from storage into the new house felt exciting (and, of course, a little stressful).

Our things had been in a storage unit for over a year so there was a layer of dust on everything and, unfortunately, some mildew on a few things. Luckily, Scott, my parents, and brother were able (and willing) to carry the really dusty things so I could avoid breathing it all in. Regardless, from the dust and stress of moving I ended up getting sick. When I was at CF clinic talking to the nurse about how and why I thought I had gotten sick, she said, “You mean you didn’t pull your ‘CF Card’?” We both laughed and moved on, but it got me thinking about this hypothetical “CF Card” that we all, with CF, carry.

The theory behind the “CF Card” is that because we were born with this disease we therefore have the right to use that as an excuse whenever we don’t want to do something. Typically, it’s used when the thing being asked of us is inconvenient or unpleasant or just not directly beneficial. In other words, it’s an easy way out of anything.

The thing is, when I wake up in the morning I could easily pull my “CF Card” and think of reason after reason why I shouldn’t have to get out of bed and get on with my day. Someone with a chronic illness that has no known cure, like CF, is always fighting an uphill battle where (currently) there's no end in sight. You push yourself hard, only to push yourself harder, and then harder still. But you have to make a choice to do that every single day. There are dozens of reasons everyday, and in every situation, to use your CF as a reason not to do something. But you’re going to end up missing out on a lot. Try saying “Yes” more than “No”. If I had pulled my “CF Card” on the day we moved I would have missed out on that huge milestone, as well as the impromptu picnic we had outside of our new house.

I’m not saying that if you feel awful you should make yourself do things you don’t feel up for, otherwise you’re using CF as an excuse. I’m just saying that in those instances when you’re thinking of making excuses for not doing something, instead, push yourself to do it.

Lately I’ve been sick a lot and it’s rare that I “go out” and my friends understand that it has nothing to do with some imaginary “CF Card” that I'm waving around. I genuinely have needed more rest and more time at home to keep up with my 3-4 treatments a day. I still find ways to push myself though, to say yes, more than no. I’ve been working out more, doing yoga on my yoga wall, running on the treadmill, streaming some really hilarious workout videos, and with all of it, I push myself. I go a little further. I do the extra pushup or hand-stand, I run the extra few minutes. Even when I’m walking, snowshoeing or skiing in the woods and it’s only a few degrees out, if I break a sweat, I know I’m doing it right. Find ways to challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to sweat, or breathe hard, or cough your face off.

I had a nutrition professor in college who was in her 80’s and still worked out and had the energy of a 30-year-old. Someone asked her what her secret was and she said, “When I come to a set of stairs, I run up it!” Find those little things in your life where you can push yourself. Take the stairs (or run up them!), park further away than you have to and walk the rest of the way, run around with the kids in your life and actually keep up with them, clean the house until you’re dripping with sweat. In everything you do there are two ways to do it; the one that takes the least amount of effort, and the one that makes you breathe hard and your heart race. Choose the way that makes you feel physically exhausted and stronger at the end of the day.

If you’re always choosing what’s easiest chances are you’re not benefiting from it. I’ve always believed that the most challenging things in life are also the most rewarding. So next time you hear that voice in your head starting to make excuses about why you can’t do something, remind yourself how good you’re going to feel when you choose to say yes, rather than no.


Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER-



Erin Evans is the Program Coordinator for the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation, as well as the organizer of the CFLF Blog. She is 33-years-old and was diagnosed with CF shortly after her first birthday. She lives in Vermont with her husband and dog and nearby family. She can be contacted at erin@cflf.org




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***Views expressed on the CFLF Blog are those of the bloggers themselves and not necessarily the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation***

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