Six (more) things about Christmas you’ll only get if you’ve got CF

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In our December edition of CF News we listed five things about Christmas that you’ll only get if you’ve got cystic fibrosis. But we know that’s just a small piece of the (inevitable Boxing Day) puzzle, so we asked you if we’d missed anything off the list. Here are six (more) things about Christmas that you have to think about if you’ve got cystic fibrosis.

1. Hospital woes

As much as we wish it wasn’t so, we know that if you’ve got CF you can easily end up in hospital over the Christmas period. And while some of you said this works out perfectly because you can avoid spending time with pesky extended family members, we know that there’s pretty much nothing worse than having to spend the festive season in hospital when you’d rather be at home on your sofa watching the Call the Midwife Christmas Special.

Top tip: Get your family and friends to bring Christmas to you by joining you on the big day during visiting hours for present opening, crackers and Christmas pud (though please remind relatives not to set it on fire, that will not go down well with your CF team). On the subject of Christmas pud…

2. 'Tis the season to be... pooing?

Yep, you told us that with all the extra food and drink comes the age-old issue of getting your Creon dosage just right, as well as your insulin if you’ve got CF-related diabetes.

It’s a never-ending battle against getting the perfect balance of enzymes and blood sugar. Some of you even said that you stock up on toilet rolls over Christmas. Now that’s forward thinking. So make sure if you are over-indulging (go on, you deserve it!) you’re also making sure you’re taking the right dosage of your medications. Which leads on nicely to our next point.

3. Sorry, we're closed!

We’ve all had that sudden realisation on Christmas Day that the Tesco Metro down the road is closed and we’ve forgotten the chestnuts. But what about when you forget something a bit more important, like vital prescriptions? It’s worth making sure you’re stocked up on everything from inhalers to Creon over the festive period, because there’s nothing worse than being caught short.

And it’s not just pharmacies that can be closed over Christmas. Your local pool, gym or tennis court might not be open over the festive period, so have a think about what you can do to replace your usual exercise routine. Going for a brisk walk or trying out 10 minutes on that new exercise bike you got for Christmas is a great way to get moving over the holidays. And if you’re stuck indoors, why not take a look at the Pactster website? They offer a free membership and bespoke exercise videos to people with cystic fibrosis.

And remember we’re also closed for the festive period (5pm on Friday 22 December – 9am on Tuesday 2 January), but you can still use our website for advice and support and access our Forum.

4. Failing to plan is...

Well, if not planning to fail, certainly a bit of a risk if you’re busy over the festive season. You might be at a relative’s house for the week or entertaining in your own home, but the challenge remains: can you make sure you can fit in your treatments around the mayhem of Christmas? Remember to make yourself the main priority if you can. If the turkey gets a little brown because you’re in the middle of some vital physio, then so be it.

Top tip: Make a checklist for meds and physio so that your routine doesn’t slip if you’re away over Yule.

5. (Please don't) let it snow

While it isn’t always a white Christmas in the UK, the cold weather can play havoc with your body if you have cystic fibrosis. Some of you said that cold snaps can really flair up your arthritis, and that going from stuffy shopping centres when you realise you’ve forgotten Aunt Gladys’ present to the cold outside can really make your lungs play up.

Try wrapping up warm, and even delegating outside tasks to willing (coerced) friends and family.

6. Coughs and colds

Sure, it’s great being around loved ones at Christmas time, but you told us there’s nothing worse than Cousin Jack turning up with ‘just a bit of a cold’ on boxing day or your colleagues sneezing on you just before you break up for the festivities. You also told us that public transport can be a nightmare, and we all know there’s nothing worse than watching someone sneeze into their hand then touch it on every single surface on the train (shudder).

So, while you can’t avoid every lurgy at Christmas time – ‘tis also the season to be sickly after all – you can ask friends, family and colleagues to pick up their flu jabs (some offices will offer to reimburse you for them) and be extra careful to wash their hands regularly. Or you can tell people to go away – that one always works a treat!

From all of us at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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