I read a fantastic blog essay by Tiffany Christensen, aka Sick Girl Speaks. She discusses the use of the “battle metaphor” with cystic fibrosis and whether it’s time to drop it. I recommend reading her point of view. You can find it by Googling “Sick Girl Speaks blog.”
I hesitate to place the link here because I use the language of battling and fighting all the time. I’ve even personified CF into a hulking form that I drag behind a yacht, or chop into pieces or simply beat up. So, with respect to the author possibly not wanting a link on my site, I give you the information you need to find her excellent post.
I do, however, want to discuss my viewpoint on the language of war and battle with CF. Not to debate Ms. Christensen, as there is no right or wrong here. For me, it’s a “Whatever gets you through the night” situation. “War” and “battle” against my enemy, CF, get me through the night and day better than any other weapon I have.
Over the course of my life, I have compared fighting CF to that of fighting a great war. It has served me quite well and I can say that without it, I would probably not be here now. I would not have had the strength to make it through some close calls or, more importantly, the day-to-day routine of treatments, especially that f’ing flutter, which is a daily battle of its own, my face red, curse words attacking and insulting CF and telling it to leave my lungs.
The battle analogy, or metaphor, depending on your definition, allows me to generate a higher level of anger that manifests itself in added power to blow into that flutter for 30 minutes, or cough harder to get the junk out three times a day, every day. Anger is an important element of battle, too. And, there is science to support it. Weight lifters and some athletes use anger for added strength when lifting; and testing shows anger does generate additional power. Many sports teams, especially football, use the language of war for motivation to win the championship.
Anger and battle go hand in hand for me and if I can direct these at CF and the bacteria in my lungs, all the better. I believe it has made a difference in my ability to fend off this disease. I believe a positive attitude helps, too. And yet, I don’t mind anyone who doesn’t believe this, as it’s all about personal choices. I’m not the guy who is going to beg the jumper to back away from the ledge. That’s their decision to jump, not mine.
Yes, war implies one side loses, but it is CF that is losing right now in my world, not me. I am winning. I am maintaining lung function. But I am lucky, too. My defective genes gave me an advantage many others with this disease have not had. And, many may have “lost their battle to CF,” but I don’t look at them as having lost anything. I look at them as great fighters and heroes who fought an impossible war, but battled anyway. And yes, despite having a positive attitude and fighting, sometimes there is nothing one can do to prevent the inevitable with CF. The question is whether not having a positive attitude and a fighting spirit shortens a lifespan. I can tell you that it would have in my case.
When you’re in a war or battle, you are alert. There is danger. And if you let your guard down, bad things happen. It’s the same with CF. What would happen if I skipped a treatment or two? In this blog, I’ve transferred my anger to the page and felt a renewed energy to fight CF – a renewed confidence that there is hope that this fight will end one day in the death of CF. Some days, it just helps to lob “prose grenades,” whether humorous or sarcastic, at a clearly defined enemy that is causing me so much trouble.
I truly thank Ms. Christensen for her thought-provoking post. She has elevated the level of discourse about this disease. Truly, I believe she is stronger than I, knowing that I probably could not withstand two lung transplants as she has. That is mental and physical toughness of a higher level. I need the talk of the battle to get me through the night. Obviously, she has something else that drives her. And I applaud her for sharing that with us.