Introducing ‘This Lung Life,’ a Column by Ella Balasa
Fulfillment to me means achieving a dream, pursuing a passion, striving to be happy every day, and finding joy in what I do. To say I did my best and made every moment count. I believe having those dreams and feelings of fulfillment comes from motivation. Motivation to do and be better in whatever parameters I set for myself. My motivation for life comes in the most innate form — the will to live. To live the fullest life I can, in the time I am given to live it.
Having cystic fibrosis has shaped me to want to live in this way. My motivation to have this attitude has grown with each passing year, though it’s taken time to gain the maturity, experiences, and confidence to find my identity and purpose.
Growing up, I was always a quiet child, especially around strangers. It terrified me to even think about having to talk to somebody I didn’t know. I stayed the same through high school, a time that I was more insecure with myself than at any other point in my life. Having CF, being somewhat introverted by nature, and having overprotective parents all contributed to my situation. I call it a “situation” because it was always something I wanted to leave behind. I wanted to be social and make friends easily, but it never was easy. Having CF, then, seemed like a huge obstacle. I was always thinking about what others were going to think when they knew I was different.
It was a slow transformation, but I began to tire of the feeling that life was passing me by, and I wasn’t living it the way I wanted to. I began being more open about CF with peers and within the CF community. I also advocated for myself with my CF doctors and educated both those in the medical field and strangers about this disease. I began to be more comfortable in my own skin. I started accepting who I am, and I wanted to share it with others.
I began writing to inspire and motivate others, and feel satisfied. I express my true self best through writing. I’m able to express the words that I can’t exactly think of when I speak; I’m able to formulate thoughts and share expressive details that I typically can’t when “in the moment.” It’s a way for me to process. Writing is a place I can go to in my mind to be alone and wrap my head around ideas. It brings me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I create something when I write. I produce something unique to me, and it makes me feel proud and happy. It has become a fulfilling part of life.
These days, I feel the effects of my disease more than ever before. In a way, it has scared me. But from that fear, I’ve grown to have an even greater will to go on and to have an appreciation for the life I have, for however long I have it.
Over the past year, I have struggled with lung infections, which have required me to be on almost constant antibiotics, either oral or intravenous. During these episodes of infection onset, I have required supplemental oxygen. Over the course of a few months, I developed three episodes of collapsed lungs, which required three surgeries and many weeks in the hospital. It was a time when I suffered physically and emotionally, but when I also gained the will to heal, and believe it gets better.
A few months after my extreme health setbacks, I was able to travel to Europe for three weeks, and see some of the most amazing and picturesque places, and capture memories to remember for my lifetime.
The message I want to get across is that although I have physical limitations, and it’s hard to accept progression of this disease, I won’t let it hold me back from being happy, feeling accomplished, and staying motivated. I won’t be fearful to love to the fullest, to be bold, speak my mind, and let others experience who I am.
I fight every day, for one more breath, to accomplish one more thing. Living, that’s my motivation. I hope one day I will breathe deeply with fully functioning lungs by receiving a double-lung transplant. But for now, I am coping, accepting, and being fulfilled every day.
I hope you’ll enjoy this journey from my perspective of navigating “This Lung Life.”
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 Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.