It’s a New Year, but I Still Have the Same Lungs

Why this CFer prioritizes reflection and hope over resolutions

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by Kristin Entler |

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Here’s a new fact for you to know about me: New Year’s is my favorite holiday season. To me, it starts on Boxing Day, which is officially recognized on the day after Christmas, and ends when work begins again in the new year.

In my memory, all New Year’s Eve celebrations have blended into a single, fuzzy collection of truths: Berber carpet in the basement playroom; hide-and-seek in the dark with my best friend, K, until our parents came in and turned on the Times Square celebration. It was the only day I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime.

The only other memories I have of being awake past 8 or 9 p.m. involve late-night treatments with albuterol and chest physiotherapy. Thanks to cystic fibrosis, my seemingly endless colds, or whatever bugs I picked up at school, often settled into a lung infection.

But on Dec. 31, up with the moon, the possibilities felt limitless.

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These days, I recognize this limitless feeling as another way to describe the magic that holidays so often bring for children. They haven’t yet experienced the holiday-related disillusionment that sometimes happens as we settle into adulthood, or the responsibilities that fall on our shoulders.

Like eating a meal cooked by someone else, a holiday is more magical when you’re not the one buying and prepping the decorations.

As I’ve mentioned before, while growing up, I spent many holidays either in the hospital or trying to get out of the hospital so I could wake up at home on Christmas Day. By the time New Year’s came around, I was either finishing up IV antibiotics or just having my PICC line removed.

Feeling healthy as the clock strikes midnight makes it easier to buy into the new year narrative that things can be, well, new; that something novel and exciting is around the corner.

Of course, the inevitable problem — like with making resolutions — is that I’m not a new person because it’s a new year. I don’t have magical lungs that can cure themselves because we and our planet have somehow completed another trip around the sun.

Instead of making resolutions I know will fail, or buying into the notion that I can live in a truly healthy body, I try to spend these weeks focusing on the opportunities that might come in the new year and on the wins of the past year.

I’ve gotten poems published and avoided contracting COVID-19 for another year. I got the Novavax booster vaccine that looks promising against both omicron and possible future variants. I watched the sky turn the color of bright-orange flames against a dark night sky. I’ve been lucky and privileged enough to see dolphins hunt in the ocean and to witness the constantly moving tides of South Carolina’s low country.

And maybe most surprising to me, I realized the other day that 2022 marked my third consecutive year without a hospitalization, a small miracle I attribute equally to Trikafta (elexacaftor, tezacaftor, and ivacaftor) and to wearing a mask when I’m out in public.

Of course, there were plenty of losses in 2022 as well. But as I sit on the cusp of another year, a new calendar on the wall, I’m choosing to focus on the good, to celebrate another year spent out of the hospital, and to hope the trend continues.

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.


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