Friday, July 23, 2010

When to ask for meds... a question I always struggle with. It's hard to judge my "normal" cough with an increased-we-have-a-problem-cough. Generally, the only time I need meds is after catching a cold. It always ends up in my chest with lots of coughing, especially at night. Ok, that is easy to judge. But after being on IVs my lungs are so clear, looking back I realized maybe my lungs needed these meds long ago and I just didn't realize it. So now what? Freak out at any little cough and call up the doctor? Probably not that extreme, but I think I have to be honest with myself in understanding that I may need antibiotics more than before. Not because I am sicker, but because I should of been on them regularly all along. I am more educated now. But the question still will I know? Can I trust myself to know?

I think you have a good plan. Regular clinic visits. Discuss your syptoms with the doctor, gauge your lungs with regular PFT results. Aggressive care is good, but really assess when you need treatment. Don't think about how often others with CF are on meds; make the judgement based on your own body.

This Sunday will mark my third week off IVs. I am still feeling good: clear lungs and clear sinuses. With everyday I am hopeful to have at least one more day feeling good. I'm sorry you had a change in symptoms. How are the new meds?

Stay strong,


Friday, July 16, 2010

Can I Trust Myself?

Hey Colleen -

Sorry it's taken a while to get back. It was a pretty crazy week. I know that you read about my reaction to the Nafcillin in my Confessions blog. That was a huge bummer. It stinks to think that the entire category of Penicillin drugs won't be an option for me. I had a clinic visit on Wednesday and got my PICC pulled. I kinda spouted a bunch of blood. I soaked through a paper towel. I had to hold my arm over my head for about 5 minutes, while the Dr. put pressure on it. The removal itself was completely painless, though!

The thing that bummed me out most about the clinic visit is that my PFT's did not improve, not one little percentage point. UGH! They are not horrible, but I expected that all of that work would have given me some kind of tangible benefit that I could see on paper. Not this time... I do, however, feel good.

Here's my biggest fear right now... I don't know if I can trust my instincts to know when I'm going to need more treatments or medical intervention. When I had the 30% decline in my pulmonary function it completely snuck up on me. I had no major indicators that told me that my health was declining. My body compensated. I am going in to see my Dr. every 9 weeks, so I'm sure we'll catch it pretty quickly. I think having healthier lungs over the years, compared to others with CF, has given me a false sense of security. I've now just completed a tune-up and I can no longer hide in that comfortable state of denial. I have made a decision that I want to be extremely aggressive with my care from this point forward. If I have a choice between orals and IV's, I'm doing IV's. If I have a choice of whether to treat the mycobacterium that I cultured, I will choose to treat. I think the past year has scared me straight. I just need to work on learning how to "read" my body, like others with CF have seemed to master.

I know you wanted to update me about how it's been for you post-IV's. I'm hoping it's all good! Let me know...

Hugs -

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's No Big Deal...


"It's no big deal" is how I would summarize my whole attitude with CF. And in a way, for me, having CF really isn't a big least not at this point in my life. When I look around at those with CF waiting for a lung transplant or recovering from one, I think to myself, THAT is a big deal. When I see people much younger than me who can't work because of the 6 hours they need during the day to administer treatments, I think THAT is a big deal. When I see those in and out of the hospital for weeks at a time, parents who have to plan a child's funeral, young women giving in to the fact that they will not be able to have children...I think you get my point. That is not to say that we, however, should minimize our relationship to this disease, its just hard because this disease is affecting me so different then it does with other people. Maybe one day that will be me. It's hard to think about.

A lot of people don't even know I have CF, mostly because of my "No Big Deal" attitude. It is like I am almost embarrassed to tell people I have CF because I don't want them to get the wrong idea. When I tell anyone that I have CF, I feel like the next thing I have to say is "but I am REALLY healthily" or "it's mild." I can't just say it and let it be what it is. In a way, I feel like I am trying to protect people in some way. Or maybe you are right...I can't just admit to myself that it is a big deal, mild case or not.

I guess I have a few good PICC line stories of my own. I would find people looking, but like you said in your Confession's blog, its expected...I would do the same. I found people at work asking the most questions, which I also expected. I did catch one guy in the grocery store staring longer then the normal glance-and-look-away. The only really awkward moment was doing my treatments at a friends house during a 4th of July party. I tried to just find my own space and do my own thing. Most people would just walk by with no reaction. Almost everyone at the party knew what I was doing and why. But one person walked by and stopped and looked at me like I was shooting up heroin or something. It was priceless. Wish I had a camera. I couldn't help but apologize and say something like this will only take me about 10 minutes.

The PICC line removal was painless. No blood. There is a little scab right now and it is healing fine. My skin is super dry, so I am just trying to keep lotion on it. Good luck with your appointment. Let me know what happens. Stay strong. Stay positive.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Re: PICC is Gone

Hey Colleen ~

It's gone? Just like that? Did it bleed a ton when it came out? I have an appointment on Wednesday. I'm going to do a PFT and we'll decide what to do. I am actually hoping its gone by the following week. I really want to take a couple day trip with the family and it would be a bummer to have to take care of it out of town. I think mentally I want to keep the PICC for what it symbolizes, but physically, I will be happy when it's gone.

I have been trying to be kind to myself. I got a mani/pedi today and ate a Twix bar...YUM! I feel like I'm allowing myself little pleasures to make up for the stress that this has caused over the past weeks.

I just posted a blog about strangers reactions to my PICC. I would love to hear what your experiences were over the past couple weeks. I didn't mention this in my blog, but today at the mall I had the cashier at Justice ask me what was going on with my arm. She was curious, because she is going to nursing school. I was honored that she asked, but embarrassed when I told her. I did the whole "It's no big deal" thing. It's just a little lung disease, nothing horrible. I think this is my reflex response in an attempt to spare other people's feelings. It IS a horrible disease and the treatments ARE a big deal. I just can't say it out loud. Maybe then I would have to admit it to myself... Do you ever react like this???

I'm so proud of you, that you made it through the treatments and are back to "normal"!

Hugs ~

PICC is Gone


Yes, sadly, Thursday afternoon I had to say goodbye to my PICC. I had a follow up visit with my clinic. The doctor thought I was doing well and she did not see the need to continue with treatments. When she proceeded to say I could have to PICC pulled, my first reaction was to just say no, I want to keep it. Please don't take it away yet. But I knew there was no logic there. I asked if I need an appointment to have it pulled and when she said no, they could do it right here at clinic, I felt unprepared. Like I need more advanced notice. But, knowing it was time, I took a few deep breaths and within seconds, the line was out. Good-bye. Now that it is gone, I have become thankful to have my arm back...I can take a normal shower, sleep on my left arm, and I'm back to water aerobics!

Stacey, I know life is busy and I have a funny visual of you in the grocery store finishing off your IVs, but I hope you can find time to relax and heal. I only had one infusion a day that took about an hour, the rest was all push medications that only take about 10 minutes. Try to give yourself one treatment a day that you can have to yourself. To enjoy your time. Read a book, watch a move, write a blog.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Love of the PICC

Hey Colleen ~

I completely hear you on this one! I am starting to really become fond of the PICC. I had a completely pain free blood draw today. Even with the IV's they used to place near my wrist, I always had some pain and discomfort while getting or giving anything from it. Today, there was no pain! Yay, for no pain!

I can tell you I'm having some of the same reluctance about going off of this poison. It seems to be working so well. I didn't realize how bad I felt before. Feeling bad was my normalcy...and I was totally unaware. I don't even know at what point it got that way. I can't remember the last time I walked up ONE flight of steps without needing a few minutes to recover. I would get completely winded. A couple days ago I noticed that I went upstairs and my breathing didn't change at all. I could talk normally when I got to the top of stairs. No huffing and puffing. It was an AMAZING feeling!

I still have about 2 weeks left on this drug...BUT what happens then? What if I decline quickly again. I often find my mind floating to thoughts of "what-if". I guess life is full of "what-if's". It's just such an uncomfortable place to be. I give my self a little bit of time to feel that fear, then I move back to the present. Today, I feel great! Today, I can play with my kids! Today, I can work! What a gift life is...not to be taken for granted.

I'm a little jealous of the quiet time that you take for yourself while infusing your IV's. Things just never seem to slow down here. I am trying to continue working full-time, then there are the kids to think about. This morning I woke up at 7am and went grocery shopping before the work day started, all while infusing my IV's. I kid you not, I unhooked myself and did the saline and heparin in the frozen food isle. I must have looked like a freak, but you gotta do what you gotta do!

Here's my new baby...

This is my new comfort shirt. Piper got her new lungs a few weeks ago. While waiting she had these shirts made. This reminds me that I can get through the tough times. It reminds me of all of the CFers who have had it tougher than us. If they can do it, so can we!

Hugs ~


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Love of the PICC

Stacey, like you I am having a Love/Love relationship with my PICC. As horrified as I was to have it placed and as hard as it was emotionally to accept I now needed IV antibiotics, I have found a comfort with the PICC. I am use to it. I love how I can get blood drawn from it. But even more so, now that my treatment has come to an end, I am finding I don't want to have the line pulled.

Its hard to explain. I have found a comfort to having the PICC and using IV antibiotics. Maybe I am going through some weird withdraw, but I actually miss administering my IV meds. It was a comfort. Knowing I was receiving powerful medications was a security I never felt before. I used the time being hooked up to IVs as relaxing time. Reading, blogging, movies, was my time. My time to heal. It reminds me of a poster I saw at the infusion center the day I had my line placed..."Quite, you are now entering a healing environment." I carried that message with me. My IV time was my healing environment. It's powerful. I don't want to lose it.

*side note* That t-shirt I am wearing is a comfort shirt as well, it's my security blanket. I've had it since 1992. It is a Beasite Boys t-shirt. I feel so comfortable when I am wearing it. I immediately put it on after returning home from having my PICC placed.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Stacey and Colleen where first introduced by fellow CFer Josh, because he felt we had too much in common to not know each other. The fact that we have a lot in common is an understatement. From our symptoms to our emotions to our worries to our outlook on life, we truly have so much in common...and so much to talk about. This was further emphasized when Colleen learned Stacey was to receive her first IV antibiotic treatment within a week of Colleen beginning her first IV antibiotic treatment. We have found comfort in sharing our experience and have been talking ever since. Stacey and Colleen have become Soul Cysters.

Discovering just how much we had in common, we have realized we have more to talk about then we can possibly imagine. This forum is for us to share our stories with each other. Within this blog we will both be blogging on the same topic. It is our way of sharing our stories with each other. It is our way of documenting our lives, how we are the same and discovering areas where we are different. There is so much to say, it's worth blogging, it's worth preserving, and it's worth sharing.

Stacey and Colleen