So what does my typical day look like? The best answer is: There is no typical day. Relying on typical is hard when battling this illness. The thing to keep in mind is that there are over 1200 mutations of the disease. That method there are over 1200 different ways in which CF can affect somebody. If you add-in other genetic traits in addition as environments, you’re literally talking about millions of ways. So remember, this is MY average day. There are some CFers that have my battles times 100 and some CFers that have no complications besides the fact that they can’t father children. CF comes in all shapes and sizes, but here is what I would consider to be my “typical” day.
I never know how I’m going to feel in the morning. Often times, I cough all night long or make wheezing sounds (so I’m told). When this happens I never fall into a really thorough sleep. Without the help of a sleeping med, I usually feel like I haven’t slept the night before. With a sleeping med, I have to devote a certain number of hours to sleep, or I feel groggy in the morning. consequently, if I can’t take the med and devote those hours, I generally feel like I haven’t slept (or slept very little) that night. I then of course feel tired and sluggish throughout the day.
With that said, the first thing I do in the morning is either workout or my treatments. If I’m able to breathe without doing my treatments first, I like to open up my lungs prior to my treatments with exercise. After exercise, I do my treatments. Treatments include aerosolized medication, oral pills and manual airway clearance. The treatments can vary, but they always include, a medicine (aerosolized albuterol and atrovent) to open my airways and decline inflammation, a medicine (aerosolized Pulmozyme) to thin out the mucus, and a device that I use to shake my lungs and try to move the mucus around and out. There are times that I additionally do a medicine (aerosolized TOBI) that is an antibiotic to kill infection. I also take about 40 pills a day. Most of these pills are digestive enzymes (Ultrase MT 20) and the others are vitamins, antibiotics (Azithromycin), and an acid neutralizer (Protonix).
After my treatments I usually take a shower. I only mention this because often times while in the shower, I vomit. Depending how much coughing I did the night before, I will generally vomit out all of the mucus I coughed up during the night. I feel nauseated most mornings. If I ate late the night before, you guessed it, that comes up in addition. Most CFers have a malfunctioning digestive system. This causes nausea, bloating, irregular stools, and an inability to get the proper nutrition out of the food we eat. You can’t tell by looking at me, but many CFers struggle to continue a proper weight. I have been blessed to be able to call myself “obese”.
After the shower, it’s on to the activities of the day. For me, that includes blogging, volunteering, speaking engagements, and trying to be a blessing to others. There are times that I find it very hard to get out of the house and get going. CF forces me find a balance between taking care of myself and “living life”. There is no doubt, that if I did 10 treatments a day, I would be healthier. But what kind of life is that? Treatments require sitting down and being nevertheless. Would anybody choose to commit themselves to 8-10 hours of their day to treatments? Making yourself in some regards “a prisoner in your own home”. I know I wouldn’t. I do, however, try and commit myself to at the minimum 3 treatments a day and usually 4. This is what my doctors recommend, so that is what I try to do. Do I always do three a day? Of course not. But writing for RunSickboyRun.com has also provided me less of an excuse not to do my treatments. I’m already sitting down typing; I might in addition throw on my vest and stick a nebulizer in my mouth. As I get older, my maturity and my health tell me how important it is to be faithful with treatments.
I live my life to the fullest. When I’m not doing treatments, I try to be active. This affects my health in a positive way in addition. The more I move, the more I cough. The more I cough, the more my mucus moves around. The more my mucus moves around, the more easily I can get it out of my lungs. The less that’s in my lungs, the less of a chance of inflammation and infection. Less inflammation and infection, the easier it is to breathe. The easier to breathe, the better I feel. Ah, the “CF course of action of Life”. It sounds easy doesn’t it? I wish it were that easy.
My CF “course of action of Life” also includes hospitalizations every 3-4 months. I am hospitalized 3-4 weeks at a time. I stay in the hospital about 80 days a year. That’s about 20% of my (and your) year. I don’t say this for pity. I never seek pity. I say this simply as a measure of my reality. I’ve never met someone who likes being in the hospital. I can’t say that I hate it because I know I need it. I want to continue to live an active life and sometimes that requires me to be “locked up in the joint”. Every time I get out of the hospital I am at my peak in lung function (With the exception being my last stay, which I will get into at a later time). Over the time of the next three or four months my lung function makes a steady decline. It declines until I put a stop to it. The hospital is that stop.
See, I can’t live my life without taking good breaths. Sure, I can lie around and do activities that don’t require a whole lot of thorough breathing. But that’s not what I was produced to do. I was produced to interact. I was produced to bless others. I was produced to stare CF in the confront and tell him that today won’t be the day I am defeated. I make CF plan around my life, I don’t make plans around CF. For me, CF is a being that I am in continued competition with. I guarantee you this, I will win. I will beat CF. There is no doubt in my mind. The day I was born I signed a lease, provided by God, to live my life. At some point my lease will expire, but I guarantee I will go way over on the allotted miles.