Tim's powerful and positive mind-set shines on the page. He hopes this article will help make a difference to anyone living with CF today.
As I was expected to live no longer than 17, I've spent much of my life defying the odds. This has come with some tough life lessons. I've had to show constant determination and bravery to endure something incurable.
My life often feels like a giant hourglass with grains of sand running out rapidly.
To reach 51, I’ve needed an unstinting commitment to my medication, regular exercise, and belief in the power of the mind. That’s three rules I must follow every day:
- Medical adherence
- Regular exercise
- Positive mental attitude (PMA)
1. Medical adherence
I have never had a day off from treatment. Every day consists of a two-hour medical regimen involving:
- Taking 40 tablets (yes, every day!)
- Using various inhalers and nebulizers
But I soon realized staying healthy doesn't mean just taking my medication. It requires an absolute mental commitment to keeping well. I have to be in the mind-set where I WANT to take my meds and be healthy. Otherwise, decades of adhering to this strict regimen would have taken a terrible mental toll.
Having this mind-set has made a huge difference to me.
The daily burden of multiple medicines is harsh... especially when the result is health that most "normal" people would reject outright. My best days are akin to the worst days for my healthy peers.
It's also essential to quickly develop habits around taking your medicine. What you need to take and when you need to take it should be ingrained into your consciousness. Don't wait for friends and family to nag you or remind you what medicine to take. Adhere to your treatment even when no one is watching.
In the long run, owning responsibility for your medication routine is better. My mantra is, "I'm only as healthy as my last treatment."
2. Regular exercise
I give my lungs as hard a time as they give me. Regular exercise is necessary to keep my lungs healthier than anyone would expect. Any activity that exercises the lungs of someone with CF is hugely beneficial.
In fact, exercise is a line of treatment in itself.
Exercise has been a massive help in the battle against CF. I have always played field hockey and was a Junior International player. I had the talent, but cystic fibrosis hindered my fitness, which stopped me from making it to an elite level.
That didn't stop me from playing competitive hockey for most of my life. These days, I play in a London Development League, and my son plays in the same team. That, in particular, fills me with so much pride.