7 Things You Should Know About Living With Cystic Fibrosis And Balancing A Life In College

7 Things You Should Know About Living With Cystic Fibrosis And Balancing A Life In College

There are lots of days, my best days, where I'm just tired all the time.

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes a build-up of mucus in the lungs and can lead to severe respiratory problems. It is estimated that 30,000 Americans suffer from the disease, and Brianna Settlemyer is one such citizen kind of enough to grant me an interview about living with CF.

1. What is something you wish people understood about your disease?

I wish people understood that just because you can’t see my disease doesn’t make it any less real for me. There are lots of days, my best days, where I'm just tired all the time. Breathing is something no one thinks about doing and so it’s hard on your body when there’s something going on that makes it harder for you.

2. How can those around you best support you?

I think the best way my friends and family can support me is to just listen when I want to be negative or I’m feeling down. I wish that they could understand that this is hard for me, not only because I’m going through this, but because I know that everyone else in my life is going through this with me.

3. What's the hardest thing about living with CF?

When I was a teenager and healthy and really learning about my disease, I knew there was a good chance I was going to become sicker and my body would get weaker and that life was going to get harder for me. I always knew it was just a matter of time. Now that I’m here I feel like there was more I could’ve done to stay healthier longer. But honestly, the hardest thing about having any kind of chronic illness or lifelong disease is maintaining that balance of normalcy you want so badly.

4. When did you first realize your life would be different than those without CF?

The first time I realized my life was going to be different was in middle school.

When you really start going through puberty and making new friends and everyone’s getting into sports and clubs. I realized many things that were hard for me to accept: 1) Because I had such a hard time gaining weight and growing in all the right places keeping up with all the other girls around me I knew I was going to be hard on myself about the way I looked for a long time. 2) I knew I would never do any kind of sports because I just wouldn’t be able to keep up with everyone and I didn’t want any coaches giving my special treatment. 3) I'd have to get used to having sleepovers and hanging out with friends and having to bring along my breathing treatment machines, my medications, and all my pills with me. I’d have to start telling my friends what was wrong with me, too.

5. Have you lived a different life than you would have without CF? How have you lived differently, if yes?

Although I’ve had a good life so far and there are not too many things I regret doing. I still think I’ve lived too carefully and let my insecurities about my disease hold me back too many times. I think if I didn’t have CF I’d have done high school differently for sure, but I think we all would have knowing what we know now in the real world.

6. How do you maintain a positive attitude about your diagnosis?

I am positive about my disease because I have to be, being sad and angry all the time isn’t going to make me better. In fact, that’s just going to make it harder for me to see that on the other side of this..after the oxygen tanks, and the leave of absence from work, and being trapped at home for several weeks...after the hospital visits that felt incredibly lonely and all the pains and aches and pills and the weekly doctor appointments.

I may actually get a new pair of lungs and I will get to live freely once again and do all the things I’ve been waiting to be healthy for. My lungs won’t have the disease anymore and even though I never wanted to be in this place, I’m here and now I have an opportunity to live a better life. I stay positive because no one ever gets anything truly amazing done by being negative.

7. What is your main goal in life?

My main goal in life is to just be happy and know while I’m living this life that I am happy. I want to enjoy the simple things and the incredible ones. I want to live long enough to help people, however I can. I want to give back to my family. I want to expand my thinking and observe other cultures. I just don’t want to look back at the end of it and wonder if I could have fought harder to be happier.

*Cystic Fibrosis has very serious consequences and Bri is currently facing the possibility of a lung transplant. For more on Bri's story and to help, you can find her gofundme here.

Cover Image Credit: Brianna Settlemyer

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20 Thoughts Every College Student Has When Sick At School

"Am I dying? I think I'm dying."

No matter how many times you wash your hands, how many people you avoid, or how many things in your dorm that you sanitize, it's bound to happen: You will get sick. The plague goes around the school at that one particular time in the semester. Whether it's just a cold or the terrible flu, it's entirely out of your hands.

And what's even worse than being sick? Being sick at school, still forcing yourself to suffer through homework and struggle to get to class when all you want to do is stay in bed. You know it'll be over in a week or so, but until then, you'll suffer and complain about it. We all do it. Here are just 20 thoughts you'll probably have as you struggle to reach the end of your sickness:

1. "Who did this to me?"

2. "I need to call my mom — I need my mom."

3. "I think I can skip this class... but I can't skip that class."

4. "I need to blow my nose but then everyone will look at me..."

5. *Blows nose in class* "I am... so sorry."

6. "Don't sneeze. Don't sneeze. Don't —"

7. "Are these cough drops even helping?"

8. "I miss being able to breathe." *sniffles*

9. "Is it a bad idea to drink coffee right now?..."

10. "Did I take NyQuil... instead of DayQuil?"

11. "How bad do I look? I don't want to know."

12. "Where can I get soup around here?"

13. "Why is the school store out of DayQuil and NyQuil?!"

14. "Am I dying? I think I'm dying."

15. "I just want to sleep..."

16. "How am I suppose to do homework when I'm dying!?"

17. "My roommate is so screwed next week."

18. "If I could stop sneezing - or coughing - or anything really - that would be cool."

19. 'What did I do to deserve this!? I'm a good — well, decent — person!"

20. "Wait I think I'm getting better... Oh... nevermind."

Don't worry though, you'll survive.

Cover Image Credit: Maxpixel

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6 Things NOT To Say To Someone Struggling With Infertility

No, I can't "just adopt."

Five years ago this week, I was diagnosed with MRKH syndrome. Essentially it means I was born without a uterus, so I can't have children naturally. Some days I'm okay with it, and some days I'm not. Finding out you can't have children years before I would even consider having any has been the longest and toughest emotional roller coaster I have ever experienced.

MRKH only affects about 1 in 5,000 women in the US , so it can sometimes feel lonely and isolating. People will say things that they think are comforting, and while they do mean well, sometimes their words can hurt more than they help. This doesn't just apply to MRKH syndrome. It applies to anyone who is unable to have children.

People say things they think will make the person feel better or in some cases, provide a solution, but most of the time they just make the wound even deeper. Here are some things you definitely shouldn't say to somebody who is struggling with infertility.

1. "You can just adopt."

No, I can't JUST adopt. Adoption is a complicated process in many respects that can take years. It's not that simple.

2. "At least you get to keep your figure."

Please. I would gladly take your stretch marks and baby fat if it meant I could experience pregnancy.

3. "You don't have to worry about [insert pregnancy symptom here]."

Again. Morning sickness, swollen ankles, backaches. Many women would take that over being childless any day.

4. "Why can't you?"

While my goal is to be open and spread awareness about MRKH syndrome, this is an extremely personal question and a violation of privacy.

5. "Have you tried [insert fertility treatment here]?"

Chances are, someone with infertility has tried every treatment in the book. This isn't your place to give advice.

6. "Just relax. It will happen."

Even if you know the cause of a person's infertility struggle, it's best to hold off on giving any type of advice unless you're asked directly.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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