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What to Be Without CF

militaryI’m an avid educational show aficionado and see a bunch of things I’d like to do but can’t because of CF.

What’s more, is that I know I would be tougher than 99% of the people doing those things if I were cured of CF and restored to supreme physical condition. I have my moments of daydreaming. Anyone want to guess my top 5 “I don’t have CF anymore jobs?” Don’t look down if you’re guessing. I’ll even delay a few lines if you like to cheat.

When I was in high school – a junior to be exact – my physics class was overrun by a major in the navy who said that there was a shortage of nuclear specialists on their submarines. He went into the glamour and glory of living underwater without seeing sunlight for months on end because you get to eat like kings and don’t have to run 12-mile hikes at 3am. Sounded good to me.

I passed the exam with flying colors. One of 4 in my class of 30+. He asked to speak to us after an assembly with other recruiters later in the day. I was all gung-ho about joining and listened intently to their presentations and was ready to sign on the dotted line. It finally occurred to me that it might be difficult to do my treatments every day on a military schedule, so I told him I had CF. “As in cystic fibrosis?” I replied in the affirmative and he commended me on my score and my sense of duty to serve, but the Navy doesn’t have room for people who need so much medical intervention – they can’t just surface while on a covert mission because I have an emergency. I was sad for weeks, but I understood. There went my other dreams of… wait, not yet. I haven’t told you the others.

  1. Marine Corps Scout Sniper –  the creme-de-la-creme of snipers. It’s a longer course and higher standards. I would be an ideal person to out-think the enemy, gain my position, and then stay put for hours on end keeping my fellow troops safe from the enemy.
  2. Army Ranger – if you’re in the Army, you might as well be better than the rest of them.
  3. Major city PD detective – brains plus gun/combat training. I love a good puzzle and don’t shy away from forensics stuff.
  4. F-16, F-22, or F-14 pilot – I’ve been flying pretty accurate sims of those since I was about 7 and on my first day on the job at a gov’t contractor facility that builds military simulators (the $13M variety), I landed a C-130 on my first try.
  5. NFL running back or linebacker – I never got to touch the ball many times in midget football in the 6th grade. One time I scooped the ball from the center before he snapped it to the QB (yes, I’m that fast), and one time the kickoff was so bad, it went to me on the front line. Every coach and player on the sideline was yelling, “get down!” repeatedly. I was in my last year of eligibility and weighed in just ounces over the minimum weight. I could take a hit from anyone and put a hurt on anyone, but I probably only played 10 snaps all season. It’s no wonder I knocked the lights out of our QB in practice one day on a blitz. That felt good… until I had to run 3 laps around the complex.

There you have it. I live a fine life doing what I love, but I just can’t help but wonder if I’d be a sort of Superman with my tenacity and physical toughness only with a taller, heavier body without the constraints of the wiles of CF.

What dreams have you given up on or that creep into your dreams or thoughts while watching TV or movies? Do share!


  1. My husband wanted to be a fireman, but factors related to his CF prevented it. It was a long time ago, but I still think it sucks to have to give up on a dream like that.

    • Jesse Petersen says

      @Gee A noble profession that also crossed my mind a few times growing up. I just can’t stand smoke, though. 😉 Wait a sec… I like wood smoke. I’ll sometimes find myself downwind of a campfire and not care. It was great to hear from you, Gee. You’re no longer a stranger.

  2. MeganMurray says

    Great post Jesse. I really wanted to be either a doctor or a trauma nurse, neither of which are smart professions for a CFer. The other dream I’ve given up on is backpacking through Europe. I would love to see the world with no machines, nebulizers, pills, or random needs to visit the doctor/emergency room. It’s just not feasible until they cure this disease!

    • Jesse Petersen says

      @MeganMurray Thanks. Yeah, traveling around the country is hard enough… we don’t trust taking my equipment and meds through customs where they can just seize things with no recourse, so international stuff will have to wait until I don’t need my equipment.

  3. RonnieSharpe says

    So you basically want to carry a gun. 🙂

    • Jesse Petersen says

      @RonnieSharpe Yeah, you got me! I realized that as I add the gun part to the detective job.

  4. i wanted to be a radiologist for a long time. Same reason as Megan, not the smartest profession. I’m glad I’m good at IT work – I am a router/firewall superman 🙂

    My dream non-CF job would be travel photographer to go places hardly anybody else would to find beauty and to create awareness for difficulties of others far away.

  5. cfstinabug says

    I would totally get my Phd in Neuro Psych and become a world famous psychologist…

  6. DavidBusfield says

    That’s so funny… I enlisted in the Navy when I was 19. I went and took all the tests, went through the physical, got to the end, and the in recruiter was sitting there shaking his head… he said he couldn’t believe they wouldn’t let them have me because of my CF. I used that opportunity to get tested for assistance from the Gov! They suggested I work as a dental tech, that was back in the days when they didn’t where masks yet. I told him, you come to my office and I hack a luggee in your mouth… you’ll ever come back? so he asked what I wanted to do, I said computers… so they sent me to school, I got a job with IBM, then Motorola, now General Dynamics. I’d like to meet for lunch one day! I’m living in Riverview now (moved here from AZ a year ago.) I telecommute, work as a database administrator. (p.s., I hardly think you are a cf fat boy… i tip the scales at 230! but i’ve had some blockages of late…that is NO fun.

    • Jesse Petersen says

      @DavidBusfield That’s a great story. Way to take a negative and turn it into a positive. Lunch would be great, but I am teetering on the edge at the moment sweating at night and lost a couple of pounds, so let’s hold off on face-to-face. We can do Skype later in the week or next week is pretty open.Re: Fatboy at 125 – neither of my parents are anywhere near that, so I’m just going for fat with my frame. 😉