Sydney

My sister’s birthday is coming up, so I thought now would be a better time than any to write about her.

Sydney, my only sibling, is a year younger than me, just about to turn 22. She does not have CF, nor is she a carrier of the recessive gene. Thank God. She just graduated from Boston College and the world is definitely her oyster. Like we always say, it’s Sydney’s world, we’re just living in it.

Sydney is easily my best friend. We’ve definitely had our moments, like the time in high school when I picked her up and threw her across the room after she spent a half hour straight of annoying me, but I think we’re past all of that now. We love spending time together, especially when it’s just us. We don’t really get those opportunities as often now as we did before we both graduated college, but we definitely value every moment together.

As tough as things have sometimes been for me, they haven’t been much easier for her. I think it’s fair to say I probably received more attention from our parents when we were growing up for two reasons: first, my health has always been a priority for the whole family, and second, the more important reason, I was the perfect child, duh.

I don’t think she realizes it, but she has never once complained about anything, including her role in our family structure.

I think she may play arguably the most important part in my support system as a CF patient. My parents are obviously an enormous part of that, but as Sydney and I once decided, it is we two versus the world. Since we both went to the same college and our parents weren’t there with us, she would always go out of her way to make sure I was set with anything I needed. Whether it was a rack of Gatorade during a bout with the stomach flu, someone to talk to after a break up or someone to go shopping with for a formal dance (because I have no idea what to get if I am on my own in that department), Syd always answered the call of duty, and still does as a matter of fact. If I was ever sick, she was the one driving me into downtown Boston to see the doctor, or in some cases carrying all 6’3 of me into the Emergency Room.

My G-Tube once fell out, which, evidently, happens from time to time, and driving a car while my stomach was spilling out of my body wasn’t really an option, so at the crack of dawn on a Friday morning (not the easiest of times for any college student), Sydney had to come over to my room, help me plug the hole in my abdomen and then drive me down to Boston Children’s Hospital so I could get the tube replaced. I’m not sure if you have ever been in a position to smell (or plug, for that matter) the inside of a stomach, but it’s pretty gross. It doesn’t hurt at all, but it’s horrifyingly disgusting. Actually, it’s like dealing with vomit, so enjoy that picture in your head. Anyways, Sydney handled that one like a superstar.

During our time at BC, Syd had to drive us down to the hospital a few times, but those certainly aren’t the only memories we share. We did our best, or I guess I should say, she did her best to make sure I could take her out to dinner at least once a month. She’ll say it was great bonding time. I’ll say it was great bonding time too, up until the point when I had to play the part of the ATM. The first thing out of her mouth was always, “How have you been feeling?” and the last thing out of her mouth was always, “So, you’re paying right?” Even after college, I always have to pay. Always. She knows that first question, though, has been an easier question to ask when it’s just us without anyone else around. During my senior year of college, I actually found out that question, most of the time, was really coming from my mom, but Syd has always been genuinely concerned about me too, so I can’t take all of the credit away from her. Here’s the thing, Sydney and my roommates were all like little spies for my mom while we were all away at school and mom was home. My mom always felt like I would never give her an honest answer about my health because I never wanted to go home and get checked out by the doctor. Sydney, on the other hand, would always get an honest answer from me.

Aside from asking how I was feeling, Syd would always make sure I was doing okay socially. She is like a self-proclaimed social coordinator for me sometimes. She has always made sure that I have something to do, so that I’m not sitting on my ass. She loves to get out and have fun, so she wants to see me doing the same thing. It’s really a bonus for us when we end up at the same place with all of our friends. As a result of this, though, she has sort of asserted herself as the person who gets the last word on any girl I even think about taking out on a date or something. That’s a good and bad thing. It’s good in the sense that she can keep my standards up, as well as making sure I’m not hanging out with some idiot, but it’s a bad thing too because mega-bitch Sydney can come out and scare away any potential girlfriend candidate. Mega-bitch Sydney very rarely comes out, but it has happened before…. The one that got away…. Sorry Syd.

In all seriousness, Sydney has been a real champ. She deals with a crazy amount of stress and frustration because of me. It’s never fun to see a sibling laying in a hospital bed or coming out of anesthesia. Unfortunately for Sydney, she has seen that sight far too many times. She tries to have fun with it, though. If I am coming out of anesthesia, she knows I am like an open book. She always loves to ask me tough personal questions, just so she can get any sort of upper hand on me. I have to say that because of her little fun that she likes to have, Sydney (and consequently my parents) now knows all of my darkest secrets. It’s really great.

I guess it’s hard to know how Sydney actually feels about all of this, but whether she likes it or not, big brother is always watching. I think I have a pretty good sense of what’s going on in her life and I am very grateful that she doesn’t have to deal with cystic fibrosis, physically, like I do. She has everything I would ever want in life without CF, good looks, athleticism, energy and a very bright future amongst other things, and I have no problem with any of that. Syd has her life, and I have mine, we both succeed with the cards we were dealt. She unconditionally gives me the only thing I would ever want from her, and that is the best friend I could ever ask for. Without Syd, God knows I would be totally lost when it comes to anything outside of school, work or medicine. She shows me how to live a normal life, or…well… not so normal since she still thinks she’s a little princess, but I love her anyway.