As you grow up, your friendships will deepen and your interests will broaden. Your independence is growing and you want to get the most you can out of life. That’s only natural.
For your parents, they want to make sure that you have great experiences growing up, and are healthy and safe. The good news is it’s all possible.
Firstly, it’s your decision whether to tell other people that you have CF. Your school shouldn’t tell people unless you and your parents have said that’s ok. If you don’t want to disclose your CF to others then that is your decision.
The best friends are ones that support you and care about you. If you choose to tell them about your CF, then a good friend will be interested in finding out more about CF. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to know every tiny detail about your treatments or your symptoms, but a good friend is interested in you as a person and wants to know what makes you tick.
Sharing your CF story can help create even better friendships. You will be opening your friend’s eyes to a condition they probably knew little about. By sharing your challenges with them, you’re bringing them into your confidence and forming closer bonds. It might even encourage them to share something personal about themselves with you.
On the flip side though, sometimes friends just don’t get it. If you lose touch with a friend and start to see them less, or connect with them less, there’s a bunch of reasons why that could be. Friends come in and out of everyone’s life and it’s not your fault that your friendships change.
Unfortunately, not all friends will understand your health needs, Sometimes they won’t understand if you can’t go out with them or they might be frustrated when they wait for you to finish a treatment. Friends who aren’t sympathetic to you can be hurtful, and no-one likes to be surrounded by negative people. It’s your decision about who you want to hang out with.
Thinking about your health
If you go out with your friends to a café, restaurant or other venue, have a think about what’s around you. Your CF clinic will have talked about how to manage infection risk from other people, and this is where you start to take responsibility for your own health. Is the venue small, without any fresh air? Are lots of people coughing? Is there somewhere you can wash your hands with soap? Only you can decide how comfortable you are in your surroundings.
At some point in your life, your friends may start smoking. They might reckon it looks cool. The thing is, for someone with CF, exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke can impact your lungs. If your friends are real friends, they’ll stop smoking around you if you ask them not to. Cigarettes can damage your health as much as they can damage a smoker’s health.
Then there’s drinking and taking recreational drugs. CF complicates things, because some recreational drugs could interact with your CF treatment and drinking alcohol can make medications less effective. Alcohol also causes you to become dehydrated much more quickly. It goes without saying too that you don’t want to drink from the same glass or bottle as someone else because of the infection risk.
Talking of drugs, some venues that you go to with your friends might wonder about your medications, thinking that they could be other substances. It can help venues and security understand that your meds are ok if you bring the original packaging with you, or you could have a note from your clinic.
As you get older, there’s also your sexual health to consider. We’ve got a web site that talks about sexual health and CF.