Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cars 2

     Taking a child with CF to events which, at first glance, seem totally family friendly, does not always go as planned. My parents learned this when I was about eight years old on the night they took me to see the dirt track races in a town near my home. As we sat there watching cars whiz past, kicking up massive amounts of dust, my parents became worried about the environment they had brought me into. 

     The air quality was the second thing that made them question bringing me to the races that night. The first was the man in front of us, who had been swearing almost constantly since the moment we sat down.  Packed tightly in the stands, we didn't have many options but to stay put, and for a little while, my two brothers and I were exposed to a whole new vocabulary. As the noise of the cars drowned out the sailor-mouthed man, we settled in and enjoyed the roaring vehicles and sliding left turns. It wasn't until we got back to our car and were waiting in the jammed parking lot that my parents had a dual realization: they hadn't done my fourth "pounding" of the day, and I'd just been inhaling dusty air for several hours. They had never failed to do four percussion & postural drainage treatments on me per day, and they weren't about to let that change. We arrived home well after 11 pm, but they still did it, and fell asleep on one of their laps in the final downward slanting position. 

     A few years later, we had another situation where cars and CF clashed. My family went to the Kingston Burnouts, where a small town street is blocked off for one night and motor heads bring their tricked out vehicles to show off their aesthetic appeal and horsepower by spinning their tires and squealing down the road.  We arrived and found a small restaurant to have dinner at before the burnouts began, and our seat by the window let us see when the action started. 

     As soon as we stepped out of the restaurant to take a position to watch from the street, I could tell this was no place for me. After a few cars the air was already becoming saturated with the smell of rubber and the haze of exhaust. But we were trapped. Though we could see our vehicle down the street, it was on the other side and blocked off by barriers-- not to mention the cars flying past the excited onlookers.  We had initially turned to walk up the street to where the cars were starting their runs, but my mom and dad had us turn around to return to the restaurant. With a respite from the foul air, we decided to leave immediately and walk all the way down to beyond where the cars finished their runs so we could cross in a safe place. We walked back up the street to our station wagon and I felt a pang of guilt, being the sole reason why my parents and brothers couldn't stay and enjoy the evening's event. But nobody said a word to make me feel worse, and the "it's no big deal" mentality, the blip of me and my illness taking us off our normal path, was forgiven and forgotten without a word. 

     Situations like this were a hallmark of my childhood, which helped tremendously in making me feel like I was no different than anyone else in my family. It wasn't sad, or frustrating, or horrible that we didn't get to see the Kingston Burnouts, just as it wasn't sad, frustrating, or horrible that I was born with Cystic Fibrosis. It just "was," and life moved on-- as far as I was aware-- without turmoil, handwringing or fear. 

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