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I May Be Chronically Ill, but I Am Proud of What My Body Has Accomplished

Three weeks post treatment, and it’s time to reflect on all the things I did well to keep myself going when it got real tough. The fear is still front and present, particularly as my lungs have been bleeding and I’ve been sick again in the last week…

My psychologist says I minimize things. While my head was so full of how bad I felt and all the things I wasn’t able to do, I wasn’t acknowledging all the things I was actually doing right. I was minimizing the efforts I made and decisions I was making to move my life forward in the direction I want to go.

I finally made the decision to stop working full-time. I commenced disability applications. I kept up with all my treatments. I continued to train daily at my CrossFit gym, at times having to force myself to turn up because the heaviness of the drugs made me want to just curl up on the lounge. I started letting my friends in more than ever before.

In the past I found many things incredibly difficult to manage, so I’d withdraw and not cope. But because of the steps I’d already started putting in place in the last 12 months, I was able to keep going despite feeling weighed down and despite the toll on my emotional health.

But these are all things. What about my body? This body of mine that I work so hard to keep healthy… that gets sick and lets me down, time and time again. A body that gets so tired, sometimes just getting out of bed is exhausting. My damaged lungs that contain black holes of nothingness that make it hard to breathe, get inflamed and provide the perfect ecosystem for bacteria to thrive.

I’m damned proud of this 42-year-old body of mine! It stores fat, which means my digestive organs are not being overly affected by the CF, and for that I am ever thankful. This body gets me out of bed every morning whether I like it or not, and to the gym every night. I can do things I never imagined I’d ever be able to do: I can squat my body weight, hang from a bar and pull my chin up over it, skip, run, jump, lift. It’s strong and healthy. My lungs are stronger and healthier than what they would be if I didn’t work so hard. I wouldn’t recover so well from bouts of illness if I didn’t do all of this. And for that, I am proud. Proud of my body, proud of myself.

woman taking a photo of herself after working out

When I look in the mirror, my reflection represents everything I do and am. It shows how hard I work in the gym, it shows the slight barrel-shape of my chest, rounded back from breathing difficulties and mildly enlarged finger tips from reduced oxygen. And it also shows how much I love chocolate and donuts! I know my body won’t stay this healthy. Over time cystic fibrosis will strip so much from me physically. So today, and for now, I think it’s important for me to celebrate it for all the things it does well. And so I can remember it this way… visible, and invisible.

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