Guest Post by Claire Noelle Frost
May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month. We asked Claire Noelle Frost to share her healing journey through CF. She has wisdom to share with those in the cystic fibrosis community and anyone with a chronic health challenge.
When I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at birth in Houston, Texas, the average life expectancy was 16. CF causes thick mucus to clog the lungs and to block’s the pancreas’ release of enzymes. My parents were determined to keep me healthy, and as I grew up I avoided hospitalizations by doing my treatments consistently.
When I defied the odds by turning 16 years old in excellent condition (albeit a bit skinny), I received another challenge: a diagnosis of CF-related diabetes. My pancreas had become so blocked with mucus that the insulin could not get out. Rather than become hopeless, I learned how to monitor my blood sugar and take insulin. This work helped me reach a normal weight.
As new CF drugs became available, my daily routine became more devoted to physical therapy to keep my lungs in shape. Now, at age 26 I spend 35 hours a week attempting to meet my doctors’ demands. I have mastered the art of self-care, and I have stopped lung damage in its tracks.
Achieving these results requires a certain kind of mind set; so every day I choose to look for the enormous but hidden blessings that having life-threatening health challenges have brought me. Here are my top 5:
Few have the luxury of a mandatory daily time slot in which they can nurture themselves. While breathing in medications through a nebulizer, I write down my thoughts and ideas. The physical therapy machines I use provide more than enough noise; so rather than watch TV or movies I often meditate in silence or read for pleasure. I even squeeze in fitness time bouncing on a yoga ball or dancing to Bhangra music.
Need to overcome a short fuse? Try a daily habit of pouring 40 tablets from 9 bottles into tiny pillboxes without any falling on the floor. Then interrupt moments of productivity six times a day to procure a drop of blood for analysis. Navigating the health insurance maze requires being polite on the phone, even when you really just want to scream. I have found that lengthening my emotional fuse with patience shortens the path to my goals.
When a relative discovered he had diabetes, I remember saying, “I could never handle that.” I was petrified of needles. In 9th grade I did a Biology presentation on diabetes, perhaps the universe’s own way of preparing me. A year later I was diagnosed, and I confronted my fear of needles. I now feel capable of confidently handling any disaster that comes my way.
People faced with their mortality have a bird’s eye view above the pettiness of life. Like the Chinese concept of yin and yang, we can appreciate life’s joys because of these hardships. My personal goal of living to the age of 110 may not apply to you. Use any doubt in your longevity to your advantage, and let the pressure of a deadline motivate you. We all have a limited amount of time to make a mark on the world.
Time consuming health challenges can feel like trying to run through deep waters. When I finally sit down at my desk I am chomping at the bit to make my life matter. Conveniently, my experience with health challenges guides me in the right direction. Here’s what gets me out of bed each morning: I have resources and wisdom to pass along to others in desperate need. I spend the rest of my valuable time focusing on goals that energize me.
Here is my advice on how to embrace your health challenge:
State your intentions: Send out your desires, concerns, and thanks to the stars.
Speak powerfully: Replace hopeless-sounding words like “disease” with optimistic ones like “health challenge.”
Earn your self-care salary: Energy comes in many forms, including currency. Pretend you are getting paid full-time to stay healthy, because we receive energy when we maintain our health.
Be a healer: Do your part in healing the world by smiling more, listening patiently, and sharing the wisdom you acquire.
Celebrate your successes: Every day, list your latest endeavors, no matter how small they seem.
Claire Noelle Frost helps people transform their lives and the planet by coaching them on efficient living. She also coaches members of the cystic fibrosis community and can be reached at cfsuccesscoach.com.
In honor of Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, see how you can help find a cure at cfri.org.