Saturday, July 23, 2016

End of semester update

The past few weeks have been rough.

I got a cold about 3 weeks ago. No big deal, right? I hadn't gotten a cold in 10 months, which is basically a record for me. Surely my body could fight a cold off. Boy, was I wrong. After a week of fighting the cold, I started running a high fever and felt like a truck had run me over. I finally called the doctor for some reinforcements and started on an oral antibiotic and a course of steroids. Meanwhile, my school semester had just picked up, and I was down to the last 2 weeks of school. I had to finish a research paper, take 2 finals, write a final progress report for my practicum, and give really good, productive therapy. After 4 days on the antibiotic and steroids (Monday with one week of school left), I still was feeling crummy. I checked my oxygen and noticed that it was low--running at about 90-94%. I'm pretty positive the cold had turned into pneumonia. Even walking from my bedroom to my living room made me winded. It took me two-three times as long to get ready in the morning because I kept having to sit down to breathe. Even the act of showering was exhausting. I increased my number of breathing treatments to 4-5 a day instead of 3 a day. And then, I forced myself to walk at least once an hour. It was physically draining. My schedule went as follows: get up, do a breathing treatment, walk, get ready, do a breathing treatment, go to class, do a breathing treatment, walk, rest, do a breathing treatment, sleep.  My apartment is on the third floor, so I stretched my lungs by walking up 39 steps. By the time I got to the top, I was coughing up a storm. By Wednesday, 6 days into the antibiotics, my oxygen was running a little higher (about 94-96%), but I was still very short of breath. On Friday, I checked my PFTs with my at home PFT machine. My lung function was down to 45% (my baseline is between 58-60%), and I had lost 5 or 6 pounds because my body was having to work so hard to breathe. That obviously is a pretty sucky number, but I was starting to feel a little better, and I knew I could push myself to work harder. By Monday, the last day of classes and the day I took my last final, my PFTs were up to 51%. Now, 5 days later and 15 days into the antibiotic and steroids, I'm feeling much more like myself than I did 3 weeks ago. I finally have more energy, and I'm not nearly as short of breath. My PFTs are still lower than I would like them to be, but I'm not giving up yet. I am starting on IV antibiotics at the beginning of August, so my lungs will have an extra little boost. Until then, I am planning to continue exercising and pushing myself to help my lungs expand.

I could not have made it these last 3 weeks of school without a few very important people. First, my mom came up and stayed with me for a few days. She helped me cook, clean, and exercise. She truly is a rockstar. She could've been at home doing things she needed to do, but instead she dropped everything to help me so I could finish my semester strong. Secondly, my boyfriend Eric has been incredible. He has taken on my cf responsibilities willingly and always jumped up to help me however he could. When you're dating someone with cf, you don't always get to be fun and adventurous--sometimes you just have to stay home and watch Netflix while you do breathing treatments and wash nebs and walk slowly around the apartment complex. Eric was incredibly helpful and kind, and I am truly blessed. Thirdly, my twin sister Katie drove an hour to hang out with me at my apartment the day I was feeling the worst. She is always so protective of me, and I know she would do anything for me. Finally, I couldn't have made it without my grad school friends, who helped me stay up to date on class work and practicum. They were willing to take notes for me and made sure I knew what was going on in class. For that, I am so grateful.

Here's to 4 more weeks of rest, exercise, and relaxation! CF is always quite the adventure. Even a cold can turn things on its head. But I have the best support system, and I am so incredibly thankful.

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