MY QUESTION AND ANSWER INTERVIEW WITH THE PARENTS:
HMM: How is it possible that the surfing is therapeutic and not exhaustive to the point where it’s harmful?
TMF: I don’t know. I think this is kind of a God thing too. In the ‘90s, in Australia, there was a group of cystic fibrosis kids who were healthier than others in a group. In a nutshell, the doctors put together that these kids that were healthier surfed.
The results weren’t just, “Hey, these kids are healthier.” They were remarkably healthier. They had less hospitalizations, their lung functions were higher, … They just were healthier. To make a long story short, they made a link to the ocean, God’s fluid. I say, “God’s magic fluid,” in the film and it’s absolutely true; true hypertonic saline.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been out in the ocean and you’ve been a little clogged up in your sinuses, but after you get out, your nose will drip water out for awhile. Your upper sinuses and everything are clear. I’m not a scientist. I know that the hypertonic saline opens up these clogged airways and helps to dispel some of the mucus. It gets the kids clear.
I also think that from doing this with the Mauli Ola Foundation for the last … I think we’re going on two and a half years, surfing is such a great exercise. I’ve been under those waves. Holding your breath, standing up on the surfboard and cutting waves and then paddling all the way back, is great for getting those lungs working and building lung function, the lungs and muscles. Besides the good smiles it gives us all and the good feeling of enjoying life.
HMM: My last question to you is, we’ve talked about your faith, we’ve talked about how you perceive things as parents and how it was interacting with the children and the siblings. Marriage is a challenge, period, the relationship of marriage. Marriage with children, another challenge. Now, marriage with two sets of twins, another child, because it’s always the twins and then the child, and then three with diagnosed CF and then your faith and everything you go through. Could you please tell our readers how you’ve managed how to stay so tight-knit as a couple in your relationship with all of this?
TMF: I think that sometimes a diagnosis like this can do one of two things. It can divide a family or it can unite a family. I think that part of the reason that we’ve been so united is because of the Mauli Ola Foundation. When they brought surfing into our lives it was like the glue for us. It was like the silver lining in the dark cloud of cystic fibrosis. I said this before, but I can’t express it enough. We were given this diagnosis and it was like this doomsday. Hopelessness. Like you said, you have to understand that we had all five kids in three years. We went from zero kids to five kids in three years. We had four kids in diapers and one that had just been potty-trained. Life was extraordinarily busy in this household. At the, at time, my husband was working in the mortgage industry and he was working crazy hours. It was just very, very difficult. Then we started to come out of that and were hit with the diagnosis, and it was overwhelming. Our relationship was difficult, we were difficult with each other, things like, Did you give him his treatment? Did you do this? Did you do that? Oh, why did you forget that? With five kids there’s always something that you’ve forgotten to do or the kids have done something that they shouldn’t have done. There’s always some little trauma in the house, and yet we had surfing. That was something we all enjoyed.
It was the only time we were united. We went out to the ocean. You could almost put everything else on hold. At least you could for the moment.
The CF stuff was all left at home. Sometimes we had the nebulizers with us and what not, but for the most part you put that aside and you went out with the family.
You enjoyed your day, the kids’ laughter, the kids’ smiles. You were able to build sandcastles and you were able to swim in the ocean with them, and experience that with them, and know that it was good for them. It really united us.
Marriage is a difficult part of life, but it is also a wonderful thing to have somebody to share it with and company to share the ups and the downs.
I know a lot of families that are dealing with cystic fibrosis and their marriage hasn’t been successful and they’re dealing with this alone. The father or the mother is there, but they’re not together anymore. They go home and they have to be alone knowing that their child has to be in the hospital. They don’t have that communication with each other. I can’t imagine that. We share the burdens, the joys, the disappointments.
Even when we were totally overwhelmed we progressed in this. Golly Jeepers! The lists are endless. Just being up at 10:00 at night and running around and racing around, just working as they’re totally tired, we would just laugh like we’re just teenaged kids or something. It sucked, but you were in it together. It was, and it is. We’re happy.
We’re in it together. These are our kids and we work together to make or lives as great as we can. Obviously there are challenges that we face, but we are in this together and I think we appreciate each other’s abilities and commitment. This is our life and we considered it blessed.