#CFRelationship – Lea’s Boyfriend Paul

  1. Where/how did you guys meet?

Dating App – Coffee Meets Bagel

  1. What is your favorite activity to do together?

Eating, relaxing and hanging out with friends

  1. What is one of your SO’s funny habits?

She has pretty poor balance so she’s always running into things and falling over.

  1. What do you like best about your S.O?

I like her general outlook on life, her maturity, her ownership of her life (not just CF related). I like how driven and confident she is.

  1. What is one of your S.O.’s quirks?

She chews on her bottom lip when she’s nervous

  1. Did you know about CF before meeting your S.O.? If so, what?

No

  1. Did you know before you were dating that your S.O. had CF? How did you find out (When did your SO tell you about their CF)? What were your initial thoughts?

Yes – I did my due diligence on social media before agreeing to meet up with her (I promise I’m not a weirdo stalker). I was very concerned, because hey, I googled it (gasp). After the initial internal freak out, I thought that maybe there was a reason for me being introduced to this girl with CF, so I figured I’d meet up with her and get to know her.

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  1. What did you do to learn about the disease? Did you S.O. play an active role in that (did he/she tell you to avoid the “Internet definition”?”

8a. Do you ask your S.O. a lot of questions about CF? (In a way to learn more about the disease)

The first thing I did when learning that she had CF was Google it. Once we talked about it in person, she mentioned how much she hated when people googled it, so I came clean. She wasn’t happy but was more than willing to explain what it meant for her. I asked questions. I wanted to learn about what it was, not only in general, but for her. I wanted to see how it impacted her life.

  1. Do you talk about CF?

Yes, we talk about meds, lung function, doctor appointments, and how exciting a time it is for people with CF.

  1. What was it like the first time you saw your S.O. do treatments, how long did it take to get to that point?

I think it was about a month into our relationship. I spent the weekend with her and her family at the beach for her birthday. I had asked her several times if I could watch her do them or be with her when she did them. She was hesitant at first, because she wasn’t ready quite yet. I think it was a vulnerability thing. She had to open herself up and show me the one last thing that only a select few (family and close friends) get to see. In reality, I just wanted to be with her and spend more time with her. I saw her having to do treatments as less time for me to be able to spend with her, but once she let me be with her during treatments, that all changed.

  1. How do you support your SO in their battle with CF (reminding her to take pills, wash neb-cups, do IV infusions, going to doctor’s appointments)?

Emotionally. I let her know that I’m always there for her and listen to her when she’s having a tough day. I try to be understanding and learn as much as I can about what she’s going through and just listen. I don’t think she expects me to have answers, it just means a lot to her for me to listen, to be present, and to be a shoulder for her to lean on. She’s a strong, independent woman (but not in a Beyoncé type way) and it definitely took some time for her to let me in.

  1. What’s the craziest thing you’ve had to do that is CF related (change IV bandage, remove IV, physically do something your S.O. because she was unable, etc.)?

I had to carry her up a steep hill at an amusement park because it was too steep for her to talk up without having difficulty breathing. Nothing too crazy yet! But I’m sure there will be something soon!

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  1. How do you think CF has shaped/modeled your S.O. into the person they are today?

It’s allowed for her strength, positive attitude, work ethic, and drive to shine through. CF has been a vehicle for these traits to rise to the surface and allow her to thrive and become a leader in the CF Community.

  1. Does your S.O.’s health change your opinion on how you look at you own health?

Sure. I’m more conscious about protecting myself during cold and flu season. I don’t want to get sick and potentially spread my sickness to her. I’ve been trying to steer clear of sickness, or steer clear of her if I do become sick. I recognize that more time spent sick means less time with her. I don’t care as much about myself being sick, it’s just the time away from each other that motivates me to work to stay healthy.

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  1. Did you ever second-guess the relationship because she had CF?

Absolutely. Anyone that wants to be in a serious relationship who says no is lying (either to themselves or their SO). Early on before we were exclusively dating, it was on my mind a lot. I found solace in her meticulous self-care, positive outlook and incredible support system.

  1. What has been the hardest thing to get used to (ex. working around treatment time, sharing a bed with IVs, GI issues, spit cups, etc.)

Working around treatment schedule and making plans with others outside of just her and I. I try to be incredibly flexible to cater to her needs, but sometimes it’s difficult to explain that to others or deal with means that are beyond your control.

  1. Has CF impacted spending time together? (ex. cancelled plans last minute, illness related, not going “out” as much as peers)

Yes, all of the above. I’ve learned to cherish the time we do spend together, even if we don’t do anything at all. Caveat: She does do an incredible job meeting social obligations, or making her best effort to find a middle ground and make me happy.

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  1. What do friends and family say to you about you being with someone who has CF (significant illness)?

I don’t really talk about it with my friends yet. They all know because of social media and are very understanding. My family was hesitant at first mainly because they want the best for me and don’t want to see me get hurt. They have all come to know and love Lea. I think their level of comfort has significantly increased in getting to know her and CF (they googled it too).

  1. What do you and your S.O. do when YOU are sick, how is that impacted because of CF?

We steer clear of each other and allow plenty of time to recover before seeing each other. This has made me become more health conscious and careful when it comes to washing my hands and staying away from others who are sick. Time when I’m sick takes away from time we could be together.

  1. Has CF forced your relationship to be stronger?

Yes. CF put our relationship into hyper drive as I was quickly introduced to the many facets of treatments, antibiotics, and DNA traits (I still don’t quite understand all the deltas and mutations). It was a sink or swim for us. Not just for her, but for me too. It was an opportunity to display how I am as a SO and what a relationship is like with me.

  1. What are some funnier moments that stick out to you that would only happen to someone dating a person with CF?

We were hanging out watching tv in her bed one night and I kept making her laugh. As I quickly learned, laughter tends to cause coughing, specifically uncontrollable and violent coughing. One thing us “non-CFers” don’t quite grasp is the force at which CFer’s cough and the pressure it places on their bodies. As I continued to make her laugh, she began coughing violently, I immediately stopped because I didn’t want it to hurt her. As the violent coughs mixed with laughter were tapering off, I heard the familiar chirp of a fart! I couldn’t believe it! She farted in front of me that early on in the relationship. I hadn’t reached that level of comfort yet in our relationship. Needless to say, from that point on we’ve been farting in front of each other ever since (well maybe just I do).

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  1. What is your favorite thing about your S.O.? (CF related or not)

Her attitude and outlook on life.