My Strict Schedule Gives Me Power Over My CF

Religiously following a schedule and maintaining a to-do list may not seem like much fun, but they have brought sanity and wellness to a hectic life filled with graduate classes and cystic fibrosis treatments.

Jan. 3, 2020 | 4 min read
Marco Rosales headshot
Marco Rosales

Boring, planned, and routine are all words used to describe the set up for an amazing day, right? As crazy as it seems, it is the routine and planned days that have set the road for my success over the short- and long-term throughout my life.

Since my diagnosis of cystic fibrosis at age 12, I have slowly found myself taking as much control of the variables in my life that I possibly can to have more predictable outcomes in my health, wellness, and even in my current graduate level coursework. Every morning my alarm goes off at 5:03 sharp, followed by the reminder alarm at 5:06 that, yes, it really is time to get the day going. I hop straight out of bed, throw on my gym clothes for my morning workout, and cruise out the door with my wife by 5:25.

After pushing myself to the limit (as well as the typical cough and more), I get home ready to load up on my favorite protein pancakes sprinkled with cinnamon, topped with plain Greek yogurt and fresh berries by the handful for the natural sweetness. This basic breakfast is my usual go-to and has been for most of the past year. It may seem entirely simple and boring, but having control over something as simple as my morning routine sets up my entire day.

To be entirely honest, I have come to appreciate the times I feel most in control of my life, as some days cystic fibrosis takes that control factor away, and I feel like I am at the mercy of the moment.

The challenges I have felt throughout my adult life with CF were further amplified this past summer as I began my pursuit of a master's degree in business administration. Routine times for my workouts, meals, snacks, and -- of course -- cystic fibrosis-related treatments and chores became crucial to my early successes.

My routine was tested at the very beginning of my graduate level studies, as I began at-home IV antibiotics during the first quarter, something I had been extremely fortunate to avoid for some time. The stress and extreme fatigue I felt from the combination of the antibiotics, my studies, and fitting in all my extra treatments and medications were impossible to ignore.

However, I found that having a schedule and routine in place made everything seem more doable. I wrote down my schedule for each day with timeframes for when I would accomplish each task and -- upon completion -- I would cross each off with a giant line. I found the stress slowly declined as the repetitive nature of it all began to feel manageable and routine. I saw it as just another assignment, another chore, or another obstacle to overcome.

Needless to say, I felt that having my plan written down on paper allowed me to focus on each task and day individually as it came, instead of everything all at once. This was huge especially as I battled exhaustion throughout my treatment. Before I knew it, I had dominated a couple of weeks of antibiotics via my PICC line and was on an upward trend.

I remember the day I was diagnosed so vividly. I can picture my family kitchen and where I was sitting 19 years ago when my parents and family told me I had CF. It was the reason for my excruciating stomach pains, as well as the cause of my recent decline in lung function.The two pills my mother gave me that morning turned out to be the digestive enzymes my body severely lacked and was truly the beginning of the never-ending learning process of living with cystic fibrosis.

Throughout the crazy, scary, and unpredictable nature of my battle with CF, I have found structure, routine, and my stubborn, never-give-up attitude to be major strengths in the fight against this disease.

My diet, exercise, mental health, treatments, and schooling are much more manageable because of my regimen, and I believe it has been a key factor in maintaining my health as I take on CF with every ounce of my being.

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.

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Marco Rosales headshot

Marco lives in Bellingham, Wash., with his wife of seven years, Sarah, and his beloved Labrador retrievers, Cedar and Nova. His interests include sports (golf, soccer, basketball, tennis), fitness, nutrition, hiking, and exploring the outdoors with family and friends. Marco has helped raise more than $20,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation over the last three years, including running 100 miles in May 2021 that raised nearly $10,000! Readers can find him on Instagram.

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