There is a saying, “the only thing that is constant in life is change,” and boy do I know it.
Before we dive head first into the topic of change, let me introduce myself. My name is Maggie and I am 23 years old living with cf. I was diagnosed at 13 months of age with all the normal symptoms of cf.
My life, I think, has taken the normal course. I dealt with cf as a kid while going to school, playing with my friends, and doing things that most normal kids and adults do with the added hospital stays and breathing treatments. I went to college and graduated and now have a job in a hospital foundation. Up until recently I thought I knew my world and knew how my world was going to play out. No one has a crystal ball and I am not the exception to that either, but I just thought I had it figured out.
I was convinced I would not finish college and would be listed for a transplant in the middle of my college career. As I look back I am still not sure why I was convinced of this. In my mind, my life was supposed to stop after college. I didn’t see a future. It sounds depressing to type that out, but to me that was not depressing, but just a fact I came to terms with. I got to my senior year of college and started to realize I was not close to a transplant and I was definitely going to graduate. This was when the panic started to set in. Change was coming, I was 4 months away from graduating and had no idea what I was going to do. I was taking a final class to wrap up the ideas and philosophies we learned in our 4 years at DePaul University. Our professor gave us a book to read, the Quarter Life Crisis, and as I was turning the pages I realized that is exactly what I was going through. It felt like I was stuck and I couldn’t turn back to the days of the dorm and I couldn’t move forward because I was scared and had no idea what life had in store for me. I had no future goals in mind and realized I need to come up with some quickly.
Graduation came and went and that was the beginning of my life changing at a rapid pace. A few months after leaving college I was also aware I had to transition my cf care to the adult team. Realizing I was living and did have a future was enough change, but transitioning my care was a whole new level of change and I was definitely not prepared to take that on.
For me, transition was one of the hardest things I had to go through. I sit here seven months later still dealing with this change. I was very close to my pediatric team and I am bitter and angry that I had to make this big step forward.
Change had only just begun at this point and I was in for some more. My boyfriend of almost two years asked me to marry him over Christmas of this last year. This was good change, but at the same time I was thinking in my head, this cannot be happening to me, the girl who was convinced her life was over after college. Once we got engaged, we planned to move to a new apartment and start fresh with all new furnishings. At the same time I was just starting my new job at Children’s Memorial Hospital Foundation. All of this was coming at me while I was still wondering how I graduated and transitioned to adult care. These last few months have been a whirl wind for me. The change in never ending good or bad.
This last year has given me so much to think about and to realize I have so much life left in me and I have so much to look forward to in the coming years. I definitely was thrown for a loop when I realized I was living, and in a big way.
I am marrying my prince charming in just a few months time and I feel like I am just now learning how to live. Everything seemed to be planned for me in the past and now I have to decide how I want to plan and live in my future. I have been scared, angry, bitter, happy, and almost sad for realizing I didn’t plan for my future, but the life I am living at this moment is better than something I could have ever dreamt of. None of us have a crystal ball telling us what we will do or be in the future, but we can dream and set goals for what we want to happen and not let our disease keep us from doing what we want to do in our lives. I am still learning what it means to live as a person with a disease and not a person who is a disease. I still have a long way to go and lots of change along the way, but I know now that change is inevitable and that we have to go where it takes us because change is not always bad and can always be enlightening.