Could Chopin Be the Most Famous Person With Cystic Fibrosis?

The composer’s ill health shares many traits with a genetic disease

Sandi Parsons
Speaking Chronically

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An etching of Chopin from the waist up
Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

TThe urge to cough was strong. Stronger still was the need to finish. Back rigidly straight, Fryderyk Chopin’s fingers danced. Just a little more. Nearly there. The melody took over. Lost in the soothing sounds, Chopin blocked out his bodily needs.

Nothing mattered but the music. The melody. The crescendo.

Until the cough exploded.

Nothing could stop the cough. It was never-ending. A soul-sucking, deep to the bones cough. Followed by a metallic tang filling his mouth.

Chopin drew his white handkerchief from his top pocket and wiped his lips. A bloody streak stained the white linen.

Chopin was a sickly, delicate child

Tuberculosis was always the front runner to be the root of Chopin’s various maladies. However, time after time, doctors dismissed the notion in favour of “irritated lungs,” and “bronchial mucosities.’’

Diarrhoea was a common occurrence— fatty foods were the worst. A constant cough, more prevalent in the winter months, plagued Chopin. At sixteen, Chopin’s health took a turn for the worse. Bouts of productive coughing…

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Sandi Parsons
Speaking Chronically

Sandi Parsons lives & breathes stories as a reader, writer, and storyteller📚 Kidlit specialist, dipping her toes in the big kid’s pool.