Music, Cystic Fibrosis and Mental Health

There’s a myth in the world of cystic fibrosis that one of our airway clearance devices was developed after a CF patient went to a concert and stood near a speaker blaring some really deep beats only to find himself coughing uncontrollably. The next day he felt great and quickly put together some quick physics together (as if physics is ever easy for anyone). He deduced that the sound waves from the speakers reverberated through his lungs and helped clear the mucus through several harsh coughs (find out what happens when someone with CF coughs HERE). Today… we have the Frequencer, an airway clearance device for those of us with CF.

That’s the story, at least. I’m going to need someone to fact check me here… and if I’m wrong please don’t tell me, because that story is f*cking awesome.

I went to the Blink-182 concert this past Wednesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with 15 of my friends (perhaps I’m writing this for no other reason than my love for 90s punk rock – see attached picture from college), and while I can’t say that I had my physical health on my mind when I decided I wanted to go, I can honestly say that my favorite band’s concert was probably the best thing I’ve done for my overall health in a really long time (maybe not – people love to smoke indoors at these things, I’ll be coughing up tar from secondhand smoke for a few days – f*cking gross).

…I could listen to that song on repeat for hours…

The mental stresses that come along with cystic fibrosis are often overlooked for some reason. It seems like it’s not really a sexy subject to talk about. Between the incessant steroid-derived moods swings, constant anxiety and one nervous breakdown after the next, there are quite a few mental stresses. Someone my age with CF can be pretty quick to develop strategies to deal with any and all emotional complications.

I use music.

I love losing myself in music. I think if I had to restart life from square one and I couldn’t be the captain of the New York Rangers, I would want to be a rock star. I have played enough Rock Band to come to that conclusion.

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The college years – hold my beer while I adjust my eyeliner.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not going to be making an appearance on The Voice anytime soon, but there’s something about belting out the lyrics to All the Small Things in the shower, car or [somewhere private]. A cough almost always breaks up my vocal talents, but who cares. It’s very much a rock concert every time I turn on my car, and at my rock concerts there isn’t a care in the world.

I think it’s important to develop effective strategies to fight the disease on all fronts. I’m a big believer in the idea of maximizing the fight. CF hits every single part of the body, and as the “leg bone is connected to the hip bone, the hip bone is connected to the…” song teaches us everything is connected. So for as much time as I spend dealing with my respiratory issues, I need to spend an equal amount of time taking care of my nutritional health, emotional health, strength and everything in between. If one link in the chain is broken, the entire thing falls apart.

So the next time you’re having a tough day, turn the volume up and belt it out.


Here are my top five favorite Blink songs (because where else can I make this public knowledge?):

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All the Small Things

What’s My Age Again?

Asthenia