Saturday, May 17, 2014

Drawing Straws

The biggest endeavor in life is enacting the art of empathy: to show we care or understand something beyond ourselves. There is no greater feeling in life than being truly "heard" or feeling like you have been there for someone in both times of laughter or tears.

The Question
A frequent question and one I know is on the minds of many is "what does CF feel like?" or "Does it hurt?" 

The answer? I don't know any different. I take whatever my body has to give me every day and use it to its fullest potential.  I just imagine everyone has to think about breathing, that their body is stiff and aching in the morning, or that it takes time for everyone's lungs to "warm up" for the day.  I assume everyone has days where they feel great and days their body feels like a prison. The only way I can liken it to something you might understand is to the feeling of a chest cold, or when your body aches from being cold or having the flu, or that your lungs are like wet towels being wrung out.  This is my beautiful life though, and it's the only one I get.  There are moments my body lets me completely forget that I have CF. Those days are utterly blissful and I revel in them, pushing my body to the max knowing tomorrow may betray me and force me to feel every part of CF.  Each day may be different, but one thing remains the same: each is a gift filled with one more beautiful breath.

While there is no way for anyone to know what it truly feels like to be another person, I have a CF challenge for you.  This idea was posted on the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website. 
I had Mark try this challenge [he has lungs of steel] and the following is based on his observations: 

Warning: at any time you feel light headed or extreme discomfort, STOP!

1. Find a medium sized drinking straw [a flexible straw you buy in packs at the grocery store, not a McDonald's straw].

2. Plug your nose and breathe through the straw for 6O seconds. 

A few seconds in you might not think it's so bad, but then around 25 seconds you begin to consciously think about the air pouring into your lungs.  Then around 35 seconds you wonder if it's almost over.  By 6O seconds your lungs are beginning to panic a bit and scream to be released from such bondage.  But people with CF don't get to stop: it's why each breath seems so valuable.  Some days it feels like it takes everything just to breathe. Because it does. 

*If you are up for a challenge climb the stairs, walk up and down the aisles of the grocery store, or just put dishes away from the dishwasher while breathing through the straw. *

I want a life filled with breaths used to their fullest potential.  I want each of them to be encompassed by empathy for those around me: for people to know how much I care about them.  Think about your week.  Who made you feel loved and appreciated? Who listened? Thank you to all who listen, give endless love, and share yourselves selflessly with me.  Love to you all. 

Today is a brand new day.  How can you master the art of empathy?  

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