We interviewed Jeslyn about being a sibling to Joel who has CF. Jeslyn shared some of her experiences of being a sibling, and how it has impacted her life. Jeslyn is 11 years old and lives in Bunbury with her Mum Lee, Dad Craig and brother, Joel.
What are your favourite things about your brother?
He makes me laugh.
He never complains about CF or being sick, ever.
He’s really brave.
I love how he helps little kids with CF by making videos and messages on Facebook.
How does having a brother with CF impact you?
It doesn’t really. I’m used to it because I’ve grown up with CF. Mum and Dad always tell us the truth about CF and if they don’t know the answers they tell us that too.
I was really upset the first time Joel got haemoptysis. It was really scary. Mum explained he probably burst a blood vessel from coughing so hard and that he’d probably have to fly to PMH (we live in Bunbury), and he did. I stayed at Aunty Dawny and Uncle Alan’s house. I thought he was going to die and it was really scary. I told Mum on the phone I will help more and he’ll never get that sick again. Mum always talks to us and tells me what a great job I’m doing, so I don’t think that way anymore. I know I’m doing all I can.
Once when I had a bad chest infection I felt so sick it made me think ‘this is what it’s like for Joel’. I can’t compare the flu to CF, but it was what made me realise what life must be like for Joel boy.
Do you help look after your brother?
I have always helped Joel with his medies. I used to clean his PEG and flush it. I gave him bolus feeds and helped with night feeds. I used to help wash and sterilise his neb pots and stuff but we need him to learn to do it all himself and not be lazy LOL.
These days I mostly exercise with him. We do Muay Thai with Jenny our trainer. She is lovely. At home Joel helps me practice skipping for ‘Ripper Skippers’ but he doesn’t realise it is good exercise for him too LOL. We love trampolining, and we have scooters and bikes and a basketball ring. When he is sick I help by getting his Ventolin or tissues and stuff.
What do your friends think?
All of my friends, the teachers and Mr Harvey the principal love Joel. They always ask how he is. They think it’s cool when he’s on TV or in the newspaper. I have great friends.
How do you cope being away from Joel and your mum when they have to go to PMH?
I cope very well. Joel has been admitted every 3 months for 2-3 weeks since 2011 I think. In 2010 he got a Naso-Gastric tube and spent 6 weeks in PMH. Then he got a PEG, then a button, so I’m quite used to time apart.
Last year was hard because I was getting bullied at school. I didn’t want to bother Mum because Joel was unwell. I now know that I can tell Mum things even when she’s at PMH with Joel. My Mum is so brave she can handle it. She cries from time to time but I know why. Sometimes things get too much and you have to let it all out. Bullying doesn’t affect me anymore, Mum taught me no one can hurt me without my consent and I know my self-worth.
When Mum and Joel are at PMH it also means I get to spend time at home with Dad, which I love. He takes me to Muay Thai and on bike rides. My first 4 birthdays were in PMH, I got a cake and presents and was with my family and that’s all that matters. Mum and Joel have been in PMH for a few of my birthdays now. Of course I feel down for a minute but then Mum or Dad reminds me I will be at PMH on the weekend and we go shopping together in big shopping centres. I get great presents, we eat out and I got a pedicure once. Actually every admission we go to the mall or a shopping centre and Mum buys me something, or when I get to PMH she has already bought me something LOL.
When they are coming home from PMH Dad always fibs about when they’ll be home. Mum pulls into the driveway tooting the horn or they sneak into the bathroom and yell ‘surprise!’ haha.
Mum and dad tell me every day they love me and they’re so, so proud of me. That always makes me feel good.
Article from RED Magazine, Edition 3 2015.