My life took a sharp turn in 2016 and things have been quite different ever since then. That's when I learned that I had an uninvited guest -- cystic fibrosis. And this guest will never leave.
So, this monster was lurking inside me for 18 years. People talk about monsters under their beds; well, this monster was under my skin making me sick on and off, but never showing its true face.
2016 brought a new set of challenges for me to fight. Guess what? I did. Fun fact: it was the most dreadful time. Here's my story.
At the end of March 2016, I got a fever ranging from 100 to 101 degrees -- pretty normal for me. I thought it was viral probably because of a change in the weather; so, I watched it for a day or two, while I made Panadol (Tylenol) my best friend. The next day, I woke up with a horrible backache on my left side, so bad that I could not breathe. I went to a doctor who mistook it for gastritis and gave me a syrup to calm it down. A family physician later diagnosed me with typhoid. But even after starting antibiotics, the fever wasn't calming down and instead worsened. That's when I went to my pulmonologist and he diagnosed me with pneumonia and advised a combination of antibiotics to fight off typhoid and pneumonia.
One month passed and, in all of this chaos, Cambridge International Exams (CIEs) were a week away. My fever had calmed down but decided to pay a visit again, this time breaking all my previous records and hitting 104 degrees. Hahaha. That night, I was scared to go to sleep. Why? Because I was scared that if I closed my eyes then something bad would happen.
My weight kept dropping (no surprise there) and my pulmonologist decided to admit me to a hospital Finally! The monster's about to be revealed. I had a lot of tests done, including for CF. Did I tell you that it was all during my CIEs? Thankfully I had a three-week gap between them. But, the test results came back positive for CF.
I was blank, clueless, and bummed out. I Googled CF since, obviously, where else would you go when you have no answers?
I was scared because it said that CF has no cure (yet) and living in Pakistan means that there's no proper treatment to help control its progression.
But I decided that instead of being bummed out, I needed to have strong willpower and fight CF as much as I could. Yes, it's difficult to have a smiling face when you're hurting inside (physically, not emotionally) but it's not impossible, right?
There were times when I used to go days without doing my nebulizer because I had to adjust my routine to account for CF. It took me a while to get used to all of this and to finally accept that if I didn't follow this routine, my health would deteriorate. That's when the battle began -- and it's still going on.
It has been four years since my CF diagnosis and I have decided that I will not let myself suffer in silence, which is why I am aiming to spread awareness about CF in Pakistan. My hope is that the taboo of having a genetic disease will one day die down and people in this society will be more accepting toward those of us who suffer from any disease.
I still have days when I feel extremely demotivated and down about life, but then I remember that I cannot let CF dictate my life. It is me who has CF and not the other way around.
Hence, I am halfway through a degree that I have been dreaming of, because every time CF tries to pull me down, I fight and stand back up. That's what warriors do, right? I hope and pray that Pakistani CFers receive the life changing drugs for CF that people around U.S. and U.K. have been receiving.
I want to help make Pakistani society a better, loving, and accepting society for all of us living with diseases like CF and other disabilities. Kudos to all of you silent warriors and stay strong! We're in this together!
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