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Volunteer Advocate
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Navigating the Holidays with CF

The holidays are an exciting time of year, but they are also a very busy time and for some people, it can even be quite stressful. The reality is that for everyone, the holidays shake up our routines; but for people with CF who have a complex and time-consuming treatment routine, the holidays can really impact your health. We asked our community of blog contributors how they navigate the holidays:

“For some, the holidays can be the most magical time. I don’t know if it’s the twinkling lights, the Christmas carols, the season of giving or just the overall holiday cheer, but it all seems to bring out the joy in me. Being sick, however, or even just anticipating being sick because of all the colds and flus going around this time of year, always seems to add a huge level of stress to the holidays. So, in my attempt to cope with CF during the holiday season, I began to plan and prepare myself for the possibility of being sick. In doing so, I found I was able to take back a bit of control, and found it helped with feelings of disappointment. I started buying gifts early so I could avoid the busy (and virus-filled) shopping malls; I planned out whatever holiday activities I wanted to do according to how I felt. On those “good energy” days I’d go out to the Christmas craft fairs or holiday festivals, and on my poor energy days I’d catch up on all my favourite holiday movies. Also, I always found that there really wasn’t a better time of year to put on those extra pounds the dietician always seems to be pushing for! Regardless of whether you’re healthy or sick, I think the holidays are bound to be both wonderful and stressful, and those with CF know more than anyone the importance of enjoying each day for what it is. I recently read that people who are grateful tend to be the happiest. Feeling grateful while stuck in the hospital on Christmas, hooked up to tubes and having your day be dictated by the hospital’s schedule is definitely not easy. But keeping perspective and being grateful for what you have, while allowing yourself those days of feeling down, I think, can really help.” – Kim Wood

“This is a question I have not been able to answer. Honestly, I don’t have any answers. I have spent time in the hospital, became ill, over-stressed and exhausted from these holidays and do not have a solution. I know the blog is intended to be encouraging but this is my reality. I do hope you are encouraged in knowing that we don’t have all the answers and that if you do struggle during the holiday season, it is normal.” – Rob Burtch

“The holidays are usually not much different for me than others. However, living with CF certainly has its limitations and reasons to be on top of one’s health for various reasons.

The best advice I can give any Cystic is to remain diligent with their treatments, rest needs and limiting accesses. The franticness of the holidays can leave “healthy” people winded and exhausted to say the least, so adding that stress to the needs of cystic fibrosis on top of that can certainly take its toll if you aren’t pacing yourself. I personally don’t get caught up in the insanity of the shopping season, but also try to find a way to perhaps make those extra special visits to friends and family. But that extra effort can also drain you and possibly get you sick. And who wants that during the holidays? Although I’d like to “do it all,” I have to be faithful to myself and my needs and remember to limit my accesses to the best of my ability while still trying to be “normal”. I want to enjoy as many Christmases as possible, so I am diligent with my own care. However, I also give myself permission to enjoy the holidays as much as I can handle. Merry Christmas!” – Tim Vallillee

“People, parties, presents, food and drink, oh my!  Christmas is such a wonderful time of year for celebration and togetherness. HOWEVER, what does it mean for someone with CF?  Parties and socializing can mean greater risk of infection. All that rich food and drink can cause some major gastrointestinal discomfort.  Time for treatments means less time for visiting friends and family.  Tough choices need to make if friends or family are sick.  Is it worth risking illness and possible hospitalization just so you can spend a few minutes with your favorite aunt, uncle, cousin or friend? Let’s face it, having CF sucks!  What makes it even worse is how the disease can isolate us from the people we love the most. So remember to take your treatments and enzymes, get plenty of rest, stay away from people you know are sick and enjoy the season.  My wish for you is for a Happy and Healthy Christmas and fantastic New Year!” – Brenda Chambers-Ivey

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