TODAY’S FORECAST: Anxious
People often ask me if there’s a particular time of year that is worse for me with my CF. Without a doubt, the answer is “Yes – cold and flu season.” While autumn is definitely my favorite season with its breathtaking foliage and crock pot comfort food recipes; it also creates an onset of panic for me, knowing that cold and flu season is right around the corner.
For the average person, a cold is an annual annoyance; something that makes you feel really miserable for a few days and then begins to subside after a few more days of a stuffy nose and post-nasal drip. The flu can be a bit more serious and lasts a bit longer, but with an annual flu shot you can hope to lessen the extent of all your symptoms.
With Cystic Fibrosis, colds and flu are a totally different matter. One simple cold can immediately turn into a sinus infection, pneumonia or something even worse. While most people take days to get over a cold, a cold for me can mean weeks of recovery because of my compromised immune system. A cold can mean home IV antibiotics (because it almost immediately becomes infectious in my lungs and sinuses), hospitalizations and a further weakened immune system. Every year I get a flu shot and every five years I get a pneumonia vaccine, but those lessen the impact that the flu and pneumonia have, they don’t eliminate the risk of contracting them, and both seem to like me…a lot.
As many of you parents know, kids are a cesspool of germs. I have two of my own, so I know the drill. They cough and sneeze on each other, put their fingers in their mouths, conveniently forget to wash their hands before they eat, etc. During cold and flu season, I’m not shy about telling my kids that Mommy can’t afford to get their germs. I keep a bottle of Purell handy when guests come over and we hand-wash like crazy. I take extra Vitamin C, avoid large crowds and stay as far away from hospitals as I can when I’m not admitted as a patient, especially since our clinic’s adult CF’ers are still admitted at the local Children’s hospital for treatment.
The problem with all this is that I’m still a mom and wife after all. Am I not going to go support Jacob at his Cub Scout awards banquet or go cheer Meghan on during her basketball tournament? Am I not going to take care of them when they’re sick themselves? Am I going to wipe down the doorknobs, the steering wheel and the phone every time Bob uses them? I mean honestly, CF is already a full-time job; I really don’t need another long list of to-do’s. Caution is one thing, but living in constant fear is another.
That’s the problem though, because I really do struggle October-March when respiratory illnesses are at their peak. I work myself up into a frenzy anticipating the worst for the season and then I end up getting sick anyway. Believe me, worry is a very bad thing for a compromised immune system! Again, as with many things in life, this is an area that I just need to put into God’s more than capable hands. Even Matthew 6:27 and 34 tell us “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Isn’t that the truth?! Jacob’s home today with the start of a bad cold and Bob has a scratchy throat as well. Immediately, my day started with anxiousness and fear about what I’m going to catch and whether my recent stretch of good health will be impacted. It’s selfish and insensitive, but it’s a very real fear for me, nonetheless. How many of you have very real fears that also consume you during a certain “season” of your life? Maybe it’s your marriage, your job, your health or the health of a loved one. Maybe your finances are in dire straits or your children are making bad choices in their lives. Whatever it is, as hard as it is, you need to give it up to prayer, as do I. There is a poem that I have always loved and thought it perfect for this post today. Hope you enjoy it and hoping it brings you some peace of mind for whatever “cold and flu season” is plaguing you in your lives! God bless.
HANG IT ON THE CROSS
If you have a secret sorrow, a burden or a loss,
An aching need for healing… hang it on the Cross.
If worry steals your sleep and makes you turn and toss,
If your heart is feeling heavy… hang it on the Cross.
Every obstacle to faith or doubt you come across,
Every prayer unanswered… hang it on the Cross.
For Christ has borne our brokenness and dearly paid the cost,
To turn our trials to triumph… hanging on the Cross.