My name is Elizabeth W. I’m an 18-year-old girl living with CF. I was diagnosed with CF shortly after I was born. For those who are unaware, Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary disease that affects all systems of the body, but especially the lungs and the pancreas. The disease makes the body produce thick and sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and obstructs the pancreas. Although this is a chronic disease, I try to live my life to the fullest. So far in my last year of high-school I have taken a trip to Rome, taken the SATs, gotten a job as a babysitter, been accepted into a few colleges, attended my graduation ceremony, and have been enrolled into an out of state college in the fall. Although all these things seem pretty typical for an average high schooler, sometimes with CF just doing the average can be extraordinary.
Unlike some living with my disease, I have been dealing with it my entire life. This makes the challenging times with the pandemic a little less difficult for me, since many protocols for the COVID-19 crisis have been very similar to that of a CF patient in the hospital. Although I have an abundance of experience in situations like this, I also understand how to is difficult to remain positive during these times. Even though there is quite literally millions of people experiencing the same feeling, there is still a lot of people that feel alone. If I’d give any advice to readers during this time, it would be to talk to people. Even though you can’t leave the house, you can easily schedule a Zoom Meeting with your friends, or even call them! Yes, I am aware that no one actually calls each other anymore, but since there is nothing else to do my point still stands. Also, during this time, another great thing to do is to reconnect with your family. Personally, my family dynamic is relatively decent already, but even so there is always a need to strengthen your relationship with your family, even if everyone gets along already.
My experience in this pandemic has probably been much tamer than others. This pandemic has not really affected me that much. Other than my dad moving his workplace into our dining room, and every event I had planned this year being cancelled, my day to day life hasn’t changed that much. I had a few trips planned, one to Florida to visit my best friend that was going to school there, one to Hawaii in May, and one to California for my graduation ceremony. Obviously I lost my job, but thanks to genes of my geeky parents, I have learned to be a little bit of a miser and have saved up enough money to attend college. Since I am homeschooled already, not much changed with my academic life either. I successfully graduated high school from my bedroom, (which was still weird by the way, even for me) but the main thing that changed was the lack of time outside of the house.
Despite the fact we are the middle of global pandemic, I will actually be attending college this fall! In less than two months, I will be a resident of sunny Florida, and attending Ave Maria University. For me this is huge. There was a time in my life where people worried about me surviving the next year (let’s just say the teen years were rough) so this is a huge win for me. Needless to say, all of my closest friends and family members couldn’t be more excited about me headed off to college. This is more than they probably pictured me accomplishing, even though this is what others would consider normal or even easy. There is even talk of doing tele-visits instead flying back for real clinic visits every three months, which means I would get to stay in Florida for the entire school year (besides Christmas Break obviously.) I know not everyone can or will go to college this year, especially because of the pandemic, so I am definitely very grateful for my opportunity to attend.
Right now, I am in the “getting ready” process of going to college, and I will admit, there is much more to do than I thought. Since my sister and I are rooming together this fall, I don’t have to deal with the “who is buying what?”problem, but there is still a lot of stuff to do. I had to go college shopping online for most of my stuff, instead of actually going to the stores, which was surprisingly harder. Last week though, my mom took us shoe shopping because our governor had finally removed the stay at home order. Although we had to wear masks and social distance, at least we could go shopping, which was very nice; two months ago, I wasn’t sure that was going to happen.
If I’ve learned anything from being a CF patient in the midst of global pandemic it would probably be don’t stop living your life when crisis hits. Now, I’m not telling you to disobey the rules and ignore your governor’s stay at home order, but don’t sit in your basement wrapped in bubble wrap either. Remember all of those times you thought “if only a had more time.” Well, now you have it!! So, go! Knit that sweater you’ve always wanted to knit, write the novel you’ve never had time to write, organize your sock drawer, I don’t know! But in all seriousness, you only have one life to live, so make sure you make the best of it!!