M. Bellerose juggles her time with the corporate world and yoga workshops. She’s very passionate about uplifting other women through positive talk, meditation, and inspirational stories. During her free time, you’ll find her meditating in the local park with her two-year-old pug, Toby
Cystic fibrosis (CF) was once considered a death sentence. But with advancements in modern medicine, that is no longer the case. Now it is possible for people with CF to live a full life. But they will need your full support for that to happen. With that being said here are some pointers on how to best support someone living with CF.
Don’t go at it alone
One of the most important things you can do is form a support team, as doing so will benefit both caretakers and patients. In this case consider what Erin Mahoney, lung transplant program administrator at Loyola University Medical Center, has to say: “The adage ‘it takes a village’ still rings true in the care of the cystic fibrosis patient.” Granted you might not actually need an entire village. You do, however, need several people, including other family members and a primary care physician. Knowing a pulmonologist, nurse coordinator, dietitian, psychologist, respiratory therapist, pharmacist, and social worker will help you fully support your family member or friend with CF.
Have food ready at all times
Writing for Cystic Fibrosis News Today, long-time CF patient Janeil Whitworth emphasized the importance of food. She writes that people fighting CF “need to consume a ridiculous amount of calories to fight infection and sustain our bodies, which work extra hard to function.” Thus, it would be wise to have food ready at all times. Remember, even seemingly mundane tasks such as preparing meals can be physically and mentally draining for CF patients. So, save them the time and effort by preparing healthy food for them as necessary.
You’re allowed to have moments of weakness
As written before here, it is extremely difficult to be a CF Mama. You’ll have to do a lot just to take care of your loved one. Aside from that, the experience can be emotionally wounding. Watching them go through painful medical procedures can be heartbreaking, but you’ll have to be strong for them. That being said you’re allowed to have moments of weakness. Allow yourself to have “pity hours,” but not days. That’s normal. Just make sure you come back stronger.
Find something they enjoy and do it with them
Very Well Health, in an article on living with CF, points out that exercising even in small amounts can “translate to improved lung function.” In this regard, exercise doesn’t have to be exercise per se. It can be anything that the person with CF loves doing, like gardening, or taking a stroll in the park. Whatever it is, make sure you do it together, or in the company of friends and family.
Know your medical options
The support that you will provide will even more invaluable in the coming years given America’s worsening medical workforce crisis. Quartz’s in-depth feature on this crisis notes that the U.S. will be short 46,900 to 121,900 physicians by 2032. Worse, 44% of those currently working in healthcare reported feeling burnt out already. This concern, unfortunately, extends to other medical professions, notably nursing. Maryville University’s look into the healthcare industry in the U.S. shows how it is under severe strain with a predicted shortage of 100,000 family nurses. It is vital therefore that you know where the nearest hospital or clinic is that can help your family member or friend with CF. This will ensure that they get any treatment they need as quickly as possible.
It is important to remember that you are not along in supporting someone with CF. Find your own support system too, as this will give you the backup to take care of a person with CF.
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By M. Bellerose