A bald man tending to the garden vacuuming plunging a toilet and cleaning a litter box

Chores That Wreak Havoc on My CF (Thank you, Husband!)

Today, I want to talk to you about a few chores my husband does for me in light of having cystic fibrosis (CF). You might say that my husband and I have an “old-fashioned” arrangement where he works to bring home the money and I keep our house in order (or at least try to). We’re lucky in that we can live off of mostly his income alone, and I supplement with my disability income.

Despite being our primary home-maker though, there are some household tasks that my husband takes upon himself to do specifically because he knows how hard it can be with my condition.

Chores I avoid with CF

Yard work

Yard work has historically been attributed to the male portion of a household, largely due to the degree of intense manual labor involved; Advances in yard equipment, though, have made this obstacle less and less meaningful (riding lawn mowers, anyone?). Besides the degree of labor involved, yard work has another quality that makes it hard for me and my lungs to tolerate: dust and debris. Even with a riding mower, mowing the lawn can be a real hazardous endeavor given the amount of grass clippings, dirt, and general yard waste that gets kicked up and pollutes the air.


Another task that can wreak havoc on my breathing tubes is vacuuming, or at least emptying out the vacuum after the fact. There’s few sensations more uncomfortable than upending the vacuum bag (or, if you have a bagless vacuum, that plastic bin that holds all of your house’s dirt and dust), and having the atom-bomb shaped backsplash of gray dust DIRECTLY. IN. YOUR. FACE. EW!

Vacuum dust aside, the act of vacuuming also involves a lot of walking, pushing, and pulling. Some days, I can manage this just fine, but there are many days where I feel just a bit too short of breath for that much physical exertion. These are the days where my husband steps in to save the day… or, you know, on the weekend when he has time.

The bathroom

For me, one of the hardest parts about cleaning the bathroom is the harsh cleaning chemicals that get used. Bleach, cleaning sprays, and Lysol wipes work well to clean all of the mildew and grime that gathers in the bathroom, but at what cost? What chemicals are we filling our air with to achieve such pristine levels of squeak and shine? Luckily, most of the intense cleaning only needs to be done once a week or less (in our household of 2). I try to keep up on daily maintenance to make this process smoother for him on weekends.

Cleaning our cat box

Speaking of cleaning the bathroom, we live with 2 cats which unfortunately come with one nasty side-effect: a litter box. I hate, hate, hate cleaning out the litter box. Not only is it gross, it’s smelly and grimy and (you guessed it) dusty! Now, we do buy low-dust litter to mitigate this factor, but no litter is perfect.

Maintaining our pellet stove

The main source of heat in our house is a pellet stove and while I love it, cleaning it results in A LOT of ash and soot getting into our air. My husband has to clean the ash-catcher where it dumps the old, used up pellets; make sure the igniter and the burn pot (where the fire actually burns) is unclogged and clear so that the stove will light like it’s supposed to; and the viewing window, where ridiculous amounts of soot and dust collect on the inside of the stove. This is another chore that only needs to be done on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, depending on how much we’re using it.

Are there any chores that your partner, spouse, or even roommate does for you because they know that it’s hard on your CF? Or, if you’re a caregiver or friend, chores that you do for the CF-er in your life? Let us know!

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