I was born with a genetic disease known as Cystic Fibrosis. This is a chronic illness that cause complications with the lungs, digestive system, sinuses, the reproductive system, and other various parts of the body. Most people with CF are diagnosed within the first year of life. I was not diagnosed with CF until I was 18 years old. Although I showed many signs of CF leading up to the diagnosis, I did not display "classic" symptoms until I was much older. My case has been deemed "mild," although the meaning of this in the CF community is open to interpretation.
The first time I ever remember showing any sign of having a chronic illness was in 6th grade. I remember telling a friend that I had a cold for 2 months. I remember my nose being all stuffed up and having a some-what constant cough. This would continue to be my normal existence and symptoms for many years to follow.
Most of high school, I had a cough. I remember having many sputum cultures and being on antibiotics frequently. From what I remember, the doctor assumed this cough was brought on by allergies, although I was never tested for allergies. One summer (I can't remember what year), I had significant chest pains. I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia and eventually the pain went away. At this time, I think the family doctor was sensing something was not right with me and I was referred to an internal medicine doctor, Dr. Gupta. This referral was probably the best thing to ever happen to me in terms of my health.
In the fall of 1995 I had a very significant symptom present itself: hemoptyosis, or coughing up blood. This wasn't a little blood in some spit, this was more like a little spit in some blood. I was taken to the emergency room. Because hemoptyosis is a common symptom of tuberculosis, I was seen immediately...and quarantined. After tuberculosis was ruled out, the doctors really didn't know what do to next. I was admitted overnight for observation. This would become my one and only overnight hospital stay related to CF to date.
The next day Dr. Gupta came by to see how I was doing. I can't remember if it was at that point or at the follow up visit in his office, but his only recommendation was to have me tested for CF. I honestly don't think he really though I actually had CF, but just felt he had to do something. So I went in for a sweat test. Positive.
I think everyone was in shock as to how I could have this illness and be diagnosed at such an "old" age. We decided to repeat the test. Positive. The second test was followed up by a blood test, in which one mutation was discovered and the other was "unknown." There was still room for a little doubt. But after I was connected with CF Clinic and started to receive the right treatments and medication, my health really improved.