Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back

Well, it is the end of another year... 2016 has come and gone. Like so many of my friends, I have decided to take some time to reflect on the year. When the year began, I went into it with a couple main goals. I wanted to continue with my streak of compliance with my breathing treatments, and I wanted to continue working out regularly to fight cystic fibrosis.

I did both of those things. Today marks three years of sticking to my breathing treatment regimen! I have worked hard to stay healthy. I worked out no less than three days a week every week except for extenuating circumstances. While the year started off strong with my lung function staying stable and me feeling pretty good, things started to take a turn in the fall.

The start of the school year is always rough on my lungs, and this year was no different. I saw a two percent drop in lung function in August. Unfortunately, drought led to wildfires all around Knoxville and weeks of bad air quality. That led to tight lungs and lung pain that was on and off through the end of the year. On top of that, I ended up with a cold right before my clinic appointment in November. This time, my lung function had dropped to 41%... four percent less than August. Was I disappointed? Yes. Surprised? No.

With the help of oral antibiotics and steroids, I pushed through. I didn't let it get me down. I had to miss a couple of workouts due to a stomach bug, but two weeks later, I was back up to 44%. Numbers were headed in the right direction. I was proud of my hard work and used it as motivation to keep pushing and fighting.

This past week, I have been dealing with a back injury which has slowed my workouts temporarily, but my lungs are still on the mend. Then, on Wednesday, I found out that I have pink eye in both of my eyes... I had to get antibiotic eye drops, and now that is in the process of getting better as well. The second half of 2016 has thrown everything it has at me. I feel a bit beaten down and frustrated. To say I'm ready to see 2016 in my rearview mirror would be an understatement. I am excited and ready for what the new year has to offer!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Follow Up PFT

I left my last clinic appointment feeling frustrated and unsurprised by my lower lung function. It had dropped from 45% to 41% due to bad air quality and a cold that had started to rear it's ugly head. I filled my prescription for steroids and antibiotics that day and got started as soon as I could. So, it's been two weeks, a long two weeks full of stress and stomach issues thanks to antibiotics tearing up my system. Needless to say, I am so glad to be done with them. I had my follow up PFT yesterday afternoon at UT. I went in apprehensive just hoping for some sign of improvement.

My lung function went from 41% to 44%! I am so relieved that it improved by 3% in just two weeks! It's a step in the right direction, and I'm hoping that the hard work keeps paying off. I'm not going to give up, and I'm definitely not going to let up. I've got too much to fight for. Now, I'm going to finish up these last 3 1/2 days of school before winter break and enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ups, Downs, and More Downs

Life with a life threatening illness is full of ups and downs... Unfortunately, for me lately, there have been more downs than ups. Many of you have heard the recent news of the horrible Gatlinburg fire that happened Monday night, but before that fire, east Tennessee had been dealing with wildfires for a month or so. Due to extreme drought, there have been fires all around Knoxville. Because of that and the fact that we are located in a valley where the air just kind of gets stuck, we have had air quality alerts almost every day. There were days when you could actually see the smoke just hanging in the air. My lungs started becoming tighter and more restricted feeling with every air quality alert. It got to the point where I had to stop going outside with my student for recess, because after just 20 minutes outside, my lungs would be in a lot of pain.

Fast forward to the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I started getting sick on top of it all. My nose became congested, and my cough turned from a dry, nagging cough to that wet, miserable cough those of us with CF know all too well. That brings us to November 30th when I had my clinic appointment. I knew my lung function was not good due to all of the factors working against me, but it was a question of how bad had it gotten.

Needless to say, I went into the PFT with a bit of anxiety and nerves. As soon as I started, I couldn't make it through the test without starting to cough from my lungs getting irritated. The first test showed 38%, and my heart dropped. The next two read 40% and 41%, so we stuck with the 41% as the official result. Unfortunately, that is another 4% drop from my last appointment when I had had a 2% drop.

After talking to my doctor about all the factors involved in my lung function drop this time, we decided to try oral antibiotics and steroids to try to jump start my healing. I am going to be doing a follow up PFT in two weeks to see if there is any improvement. Then we will go from there.

So what do I do now??? I keep going. I keep working out. I keep doing my breathing treatments and taking all of my medications. I keep fighting. I keep knowing that my hard work is paying off even if I'm not seeing it right at the moment. That's all I can do. I refuse to go down without a fight, and I have to think that in two weeks, I will be feeling better, and my lung function will be on it's way back up.