The Importance of Friends in My Health Journey With CF

From childhood through college and into married life, it matters to have company

William Ryan avatar

by William Ryan |

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I’m going to declare my opinion that LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” is the best song of the 2000s. The song, which is only two notes and about seven and a half minutes long, pulls me in and doesn’t let me go. It’s melancholic, nostalgic, and ready for a party all at once. When frontman James Murphy belts, “I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision/ For another five years of life,” it still hits me as it did the first time I heard the song in college.

As people with cystic fibrosis (CF), we’re told early on that life is limited and that we should cherish the memories and those around us for as long as we can. Quite often, those memories can include stupid decisions. Those memories and decisions, after all, are the backbone of youth.

If life is a bar, I’ve definitely Irish goodbye’d my way out before last call hundreds of times. Most often, it related to CF, directly or indirectly. Sometimes, I had to go home to do a physical treatment, or because I can’t drink, it didn’t make sense to stay around until everyone else went home. Other times, I had CF fatigue, and I just wanted to sleep after a long day.

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How Not to Be a Total Tool to Your Sick Friends, Who May Be Tools, Too

That doesn’t mean I always left early. I have plenty of memories of long nights just chatting with friends, hanging down at the park doing nothing, or going to the diner very late because I was still awake from typing an essay and wanted to eat. I’ll maybe save those stories for a book. I’m thankful I’ve always had friends who understood, as best they could, my health complications. 

Cystic fibrosis, however, can be an isolating disease at its core. When I was a kid, I remember meeting other kids living with CF and sitting in waiting rooms with their families. We’d play with video games or Legos or whatever else was on hand in our doctor’s office.

Sometime around the age of 4 or 5, that changed, and we could no longer have contact with one another. As much as everyone tried their best to make me feel normal, it was hard for me to relate to other kids. A lot of memories include me being whisked away to take medicine or being unable to take part in certain activities because I could get out of breath easily.

With the advent of social media and blogs, I had an easier time finding other people with CF to relate to, even if I didn’t say anything. The downside was that it took me years to get over the idea that I was relatively healthy while others were struggling with the instruments God gave them. It’s much easier now, and maybe that’s to do with age, but I believe it also has to do with being more comfortable in my own skin and situation.

I’m grateful for my wife and our two dogs, my family, and my friends. My circle of friends may be smaller compared with what it was in 2012 when I first heard “All My Friends,” but it’s even more important to me now than it was back then.

As I’m writing this, I’m wearing a T-shirt two of my friends gave me as a congratulations for this column. The shirt serves its purpose as the inspiration behind this week’s column. To answer James Murphy’s question throughout the song, my friends are always with me. Today, tonight, and tomorrow. When you have good friends who care and appreciate you, they definitely become like family.

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.


Helen Palmiero avatar

Helen Palmiero

Will, your articles get better and better! You describe things/situations so well. Your articles really tug at my heartstrings. Tons of love, Your Friend, Mother Palmiero


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