Mother holds crying child; enzymes, medication, potted plant, Willie the Whale nebulizer float behind them.

My Moment Of Rebellion

As long as I can remember, I have always done my best to please those influential people in my life: my parents, my teachers, and my doctor. I always strive to do what is right and never want to disappoint anyone. When I was younger, this meant I always made my bed, ate all the food on my plate, did my treatments, completed my homework and studied hard to get good grades. I felt like I had to always have it all together.

Wanting to feel "normal"

I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth so I don't know what it is like to live without having to take enzymes with meals, or do breathing treatments multiple times a day. I don't know what it's like to take a last-minute trip to visit friends without having to pack a bag with all the medication I need. But that was OK because it was my normal and I didn't know any better - until I started to realize that my normal wasn't everyone else's normal, too.

I really started to notice this during the first grade when I got to eat lunch in the cafeteria for the first time with my new friends.  I was the only one in my class who had to visit the nurse before lunch [to take my enzymes]. It was hard to leave my friends and have to stop at the nurse's office. I didn't want to answer all of their questions. I didn't want to stick out or be "different"; I wanted to fit in and be just like my new friends I met in class.

My rebellion from my cystic fibrosis treatment

One day when I was visiting the nurse before lunch, I decided I didn't want to be different anymore. I went to the sink to fill up a cup of water to take my enzymes, but instead of swallowing my pills, I dumped them in the garbage. I just threw them away. Something about doing that felt so liberating. I felt free. I felt relieved. Then I continued on my way, pretending I took them, and I was off to the cafeteria to join my friends.

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This was all very unlike me. I was not the type of kid who liked to get in trouble or disappoint anyone, especially my parents. This continued for a few days - maybe even a week or two - until one day there was a substitute nurse in the office. She was nice enough, but I didn't really care for her. Wouldn't you know, she somehow caught on to me dumping my pills in the garbage and she confronted me. I froze, then got defensive and then didn’t know what to say. What was it like to be in trouble?

I don’t remember what I said. All I remember is that I was absolutely terrified for my parents to find out. Of course, the substitute nurse threatened to call my mom and I wasn't really sure if she was serious or not. I was doomed. I was terrified of my parents' reaction and I was afraid they would be so disappointed in me. While I knew it was not wise to throw away my pills, I kept on doing it anyway.

Lesson learned from my cystic fibrosis rebellion

When I got home that day after school, my mom acted normal - she didn’t even mention the incident right away. It wasn’t until later when we were getting ready for an event that she brought it up. She casually mentioned that she heard I was throwing my pills in the garbage in the nurse's office at school. She also shared that she had been finding my enzymes in the couch cushions at home too (I had forgotten about that!).

When she asked me why I did it, I didn’t really have a good reason. I started telling her it wasn't fair and started crying. She hugged me and I recall her saying that taking enzymes was for my own good and if I didn't take them I could end up with really bad stomach aches. I was so relieved that she didn’t seem mad or even disappointed. She was more empathetic than I expected, and it was like maybe she actually understood. That moment has forever left an impact on my life. Ever since that day, I always took my pills before every meal and didn’t have the urge to have a rebellion against my cystic fibrosis treatments again.

I don’t know if my mom realized what she did that day, but I am forever grateful. Thankfully, I haven't had the urge to rebel against my health since that episode. I learned at such a young age that I had to take responsibility for my own health and that I was only hurting myself if I didn't.

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