Taking Care of Yourself When Your Spouse Has CF

Having a spouse with cystic fibrosis can leave you focusing too much on their health and not your own. My weight loss journey taught me that even if it's not about him, it's not about me, either. It's about us.

| 4 min read
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Bradi Stocks
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Like most couples, when my husband, Aaron, and I began dating, we learned about each other. He had a different view on life, having been born with cystic fibrosis and living with the expectation that he wouldn't survive past second grade. Having an incurable disease without many drugs on the market, Aaron learned to fight. He's very competitive in sports but also with his health. From his daily treatments to participating in clinical trials, everything that Aaron does, he does in full force.

Aaron and I grew up close to each other (same schools K-12) and even ran in the same social circles in college. But, it wasn't until a year after I graduated that I had a chance to meet him. I was looking to move into the nonprofit world. He was working at the CF Foundation and I wanted to learn more. From that first meeting, the rest was history. Our life today, almost seven years later, is eat, sleep and work CF. I wouldn't have it any other way, but when so much of your focus is on your spouse's health, you can lose sight of your own.

As our life grew, so did I. Many people gain weight when they get into a comfortable relationship. But when you marry someone who consumes at least 4,000 calories each day, it is hard not to eat along with them. Aaron loves food. He likes to be creative -- he missed his calling as a chef, which made it easier to ignore the calories. One day, I realized that I had gained 30 pounds.

My wake up call came when Aaron took part in the lumacaftor/ivacaftor (Orkambi®) trial. I realized that he was doing everything in his power to be here for his family, and here I was 30 pounds overweight and feeling crummy about life. So I decided to lose weight. Seeing his drive to better himself empowered me to do the same and become a healthier version of myself.

I'm not saying the journey hasn't had its ups and downs. I started with the usual: gym and clean eating, and even threw in some crazy diet plans. I lost 15 pounds and, for about three years, my weight would yo-yo back and forth. It wasn't until I started Weight Watchers that something clicked and my life completely changed.

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I learned that you have to change the way you look at food. Nutrition is an important part of what makes Aaron healthy. Why didn't I think of that for myself? The best advice I received was to look at how food fuels your body. The more weight I lost -- and the more invested in my health I became -- the less I craved unhealthy foods like I used to.

Through this experience it became clear that, although it's important to be there for your spouse, it's equally important to take care of yourself and not feel guilty about doing so. We are stronger together and support each other every step of the way toward our own nutrition goals -- even though they are vastly different.

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The wife of an adult with CF, Bradi is the senior project coordinator of the field management and fundraising team at the CF Foundation. Her favorite project is the Volunteer Leadership Conference. Bradi feels no greater joy than seeing the excitement of the volunteers and staff coming together -- just like a family reunion. Bradi is native to the Metro DC area and fell in love with the area's art and history museums. Her greatest love, other than her husband, is her two fur babies, Rusty, a Jack Russell terrier and Caesar, a German shepherd.

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This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.