Make Today Hard

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Hi Hannah!

My name is Katie and I’m a high schooler with cystic fibrosis. I recently read your article about CF in college and it was so interesting. Being a sophomore, I’m far from entering college, but my search for colleges is definitely gaining momentum.

I’m very healthy always have been (FEV: 112% and weight in normal range). I’ve been admitted to the hospital once in my life and bounced back quickly. My dream college - hands down - is University of Alabama. The only problem, however, is that I live in Minnesota.

My mom supports me on the outside, but I’ve overheard her talking to my dad that going to shool so far away will never work with CF. She has also mentioned that wherever I go to college, she’s moving nearby.

This makes me sick to my stomach because I feel like I’ll never be able to grow up and become an adult, especially with my mom hovering. Do you think it’s possible for me to go to school so far away with CF?

Thank you so much for your time.

Katie

Katie,

First of all: yes. I think it is possible for you to go to school far away despite having CF.

I can tell by the way your message is written that you’re bright. Extremely bright, and attentive, and because you’re already taking the careful time to prepare for your post-high school life, you’re driven. In my opinion, being genuinely driven is the most important quality a person needs to survive and succeed college. After that comes curiousity, intelligence, and a desire to help the world. You strike me as someone who hits every nail on its head.

This, paired with your fortunate health history, provides me with the confidence that you can do this. And not just because “people sicker than you graduate from college all the time.” That’s a lame reason to believe in someone, and I wouldn’t say that to you. No, Katie, I think you can do this because I think YOU can.

I’d be curious to know what types of situations your mother may be specifically worried about. Perhaps your health insurance will not work outside of Minnesota, and she knows that, but you do not. Perhaps she caught frequent colds and flus during her time away at college, and she’s projecting that experience onto you. Or, in what I believe is the most likely possibility, she just kinda thinks it’ll all be a lot for you to handle.

Transitions are big for all of us. I’m facing one right now, and my mom worries a lot, too.

Luckily, you’re young. You still have two more years (at least!) to get those training wheels off before riding away to Alabama, or Alaska, or Algonquin. My advice to you is this: start now.

Tell your mother that you’d like to start going to the pharmacy to pick up your medications, if that’s something she currently does for you. If you don’t have a vehicle of your own or you can’t drive, then go with her, and be the one to speak to the druggist when you get to the front desk. Check yourself in and out of the CF clinic, and be the one to decide with the clerk when your next appointment will be - and then keep track of that date and time, afterwards. Fill and refill your pill box without being asked. The same goes for your treatments. If you’re not already involved in any sort of physical activity, commit yourself to a regular - but gentle, at first - exercise routine. Show your mom by doing, and not telling, that you are ready to become an adult who takes care of herself. Cystic fibrosis and all. Make today hard(er) so that tomorrow can be easier.

This is the strategy I’ve used heavily this year to prove to my parents that I will be capable of moving to New York City after graduating from college next month. Taking on responsibilities that you’ve never taken on before is a very real-world, everyday, tactile way of saying, “Hey, Mom. I know you’re scared. And I know why you’re scared. But I want you to know that I’m putting in the work to make this dream possible, and I’m not being irresponsible. I’m taking this seriously.”

Most of all, I think you need to communicate with your mother. If you haven’t already, sit down and initiate an open discussion with her. Ask her how she feels about you potentially moving away, and press her to be genuine with you, promising that you’ll do the same with her. It’s the only way that you’ll uncover the roots of these feelings.

And try to remember that when it comes to parents, they freak out because we’re their favorite things in the whole wide world.

Best of luck, and (swallowing my Michigan pride) Roll Tide!

Love,

Han

 
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