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Saturday, March 29, 2014

The BIG 3-0

This month I turned the big 3-0! That's right, I'm 30 years old now! Whoo buddy I'm getting up there! A lot of people have been razzing me about turning 30 and rightfully so. I get asked a lot how depressing it is and if it bothers me. When I say no, most everyone calls me a liar, lol. Honestly it really doesn't. When I turned 26, that bothered me a little. However, my perspective on life was different then. I was newly married (less than a year), had no kids, and was still adjusting to having to take CF seriously.

As a quick reminder, I wasn't ever admitted to the hospital for a CF exacerbation until age 18. I took my treatments sometimes and really didn't think twice about having CF as it really didn't affect me. After my first two admissions at ages 18 and 19, I started to take it more serious. I'd say I didn't really begin doing treatments consistently until I was in my early 20's. I really started to notice a steep decline in my lung function and really had to take it serious. Honestly, I often feel pretty "green" when it comes to CF. I haven't been in and out of the hospital my whole life and never paid any attention to what meds I took or what they were supposed to do. In the past 10-12 years, a lot has happened in regards to my health. A lot has also happened in my life. I'm now married going on 5 years and have 11 month old twin boys. My perspective on life and CF has changed a lot over the past 10 years and continues to change. CF is constantly affecting my body in different ways and I find myself doing a lot of adjusting to find what works and battle it the best I can. While I may have taken 26 a little hard, I've learned to appreciate life so much more since then. So, when it comes to getting older, I look forward to each year.

Growing up my parents were told I wouldn't live to be in my teens. Then it was that I wouldn't live to see high school, then college, then to have a career or family. As a kid, when you hear something from doctors that you respect and trust enough, you believe it. Growing up, I honestly didn't think I would live to be 21. I just always "knew" that I'd go to heaven before I turned 21. I still lived my life as if I was going to live longer, but never believed I would. I remember my 21st birthday vividly. It fell on a Sunday. I actually got pulled over on my way to church and given a ticket for not having my license plate affixed to the front of my car (it wasn't cool to have it on there). Nothing could ruin my mood that day though. When I got to church, I was overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness to still be alive. It may sound silly but I was. I had this revelation that "Hey, I made it! I'm 21 and still alive and well!" I praised the Lord with all I had in me that day for keeping me alive and healthy so long. Again, it may sound silly, but I truly believed I wouldn't live to see 21, because that's what I'd been told for so long. I realized then that doctors don't know everything. They simply try and prepare you for what they think may happen. It was then that I realized I was going to be alive for many, many more years.

Here I am 9 years later turning 30. My PFT's are in the mid 60% range and I'm doing good! Not only did I make it past my teens, graduate high school, graduate college with a bachelors, but I'm married and have a family! Life couldn't be any better! God has truly blessed me!

So when people ask if I'm bummed about getting older, I most certainly am not! I look forward to every year I am allotted on this planet and get to spend with my family and friends! To make turning 30 even better, Monica threw a surprise party for me that completely caught me off guard! I like to think I'm a pretty slick guy and very observant. She got this one past me beautifully though! It was a lot of fun and made it a great birthday! I hope to some day write a 50th Birthday blog post on here!

Here's a few pics from my birthday party.

My name for the day was "Vinny Gerr"

I'm also reppin' the More Than Just Me Foundation :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

All Backed Up

I've had another lengthy absence from the blog. This time is was brought on by some backed up bowels. :)

Aaahhh what is this thing?!
A week ago Tuesday I was at work. I ate lunch and shortly after started experiencing some very intense abdominal cramps. I thought maybe I ate something bad. After all... I do work at a hospital and eat hospital food for lunch. :) That evening the pain was still so intense I couldn't eat dinner. I was awakened around 2am and lost everything I'd eaten for what felt like a week! I fell back asleep and woke in the morning with just as much pain. It felt very similar to the pain I experienced in 2005 when I had a bowel obstruction that required surgery. I waited hoping it would subside. It didn't and so off to the ER I went. After a 5 hour wait I got a room in the ER. They started an IV and fluids after 1 failed attempt and blown vein (unusual because I have great veins). I had to swallow an NG tube (it actually went very smoothly). They sent blood work, took an X-Ray and sent me for a CT. Then I waited to hear from the docs.

A surgeon came in maybe 45 min later. By this time it was 2am. I work with him on an almost daily basis. It was nice to see a familiar face. He told me the CT looked bad. I definitely had a bowel obstruction and it looked like part of my bowel was not receiving blood flow (it could be dead and would need to be cut out). I needed emergent surgery. If the bowel was in fact "dead" it could lead to a spread of infection throughout my body and cause major problems. I signed all the paperwork, sent a text to my parents and poor wifey and off I went to pre-op holding. My case actually got bumped by an emergency. I was actually nice. I was able to spend some time praying for the surgeons, anyone that would be working on me, for God's will, and praying just in general. I was also able to get in a 1-2 hour nap. By then they were giving me pain meds so I was much more comfortable. My pre-op nurse was a lady I worked with for years on night shift and hadn't seen in a long time. It was nice to catch up with her. She's a sweetheart and took great care of me! I doubt she'll ever read this, but if she does, thank you Denise!
Post NG tube being pulled

I got out of surgery and everything went great. The obstruction was caused from scar tissue (adhesions) from my surgery in 2005. It had grown and wrapped it's way around my bowels, eventually pinching them closed. They didn't have to remove any bowel and were able to clear most of the obstruction easily. I had to keep the NG tube for several more days. They gave me Golytely and Mucomyst through the NG, and suppositories to make my bowels start working and to clear out the remainder of the hard stool. After having exactly 5 bowel movements, they finally agreed to remove the NG tube and start me on clears. My first meal was chicken broth, blue jello and apple juice! Later that day they let me have real food... a turkey sandwich and bag of Baked Lays with some Sierra Mist! I went home the following day! I went in on Wednesday afternoon and left Tuesday afternoon. Just shy of a week. In that short amount of time I dropped 15 pounds. It's amazing the amount of energy, weight and strength 6 days following a pretty major surgery can take out of you.

I left with some pretty awesome battle wounds! They tore my arms up, lol! I have great veins and have never had any problems with blood draws or IV's. I've had hundreds of sticks and IV's started all with no problems. This time I had 5 IV's, 4 of which blew. I had several sticks, and each time was left with a giant hematoma and bruise. My eyes and cheeks are sunk in from the weight loss, and I look beat up! My incision is massive (It starts about 4 finger widths below where my sternum ends and stops an inch or two above my male parts)! Overall this surgery went much better than the one I had in 2005 where I was hospitalized for almost 3 weeks. All except the massive scar, but I do believe it will look better than the other one when it heals.

Now starts the recovery process. Gaining strength day by day. The incision is still very tight so it's hard to stand up straight and keep good posture. This makes it hard on my back from hunching over so much. Little tasks get me breathing heavy and take a lot out of me. I can't be on my feet more than 30 minutes and I'm completely whooped and have to sit for another 30 or more to recoup. The hardest part of recovery is not being able to pick up my boys. It's torture. No lifting anything over 10 pounds for 6 weeks. That and the coughing is killer with such a huge incision. No amount of splinting makes it any easier. It's flat out tough. Every day get s a little bit better though. I'm able to be on my feet moving around more each day. Some days are more painful than others. On those days, my posture usually suffers.

It's great to be home! It's great to be around my wife and boys!

It has been a whirlwind of a week. I went from feeling on top of the world going to bed Monday night after a great workout, to having a major surgery and barely being able to get around. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bummed about all of this. It's going to be a long road to get back to where I was. I was on week 5 of CFit. I was gaining weight, getting A LOT stronger and feeling AMAZING!!! I felt the best I had in a long time and looked the best I had in a while. My shirts were fitting tight, and I was gaining a little bit of confidence, lol! It's hard to look in the mirror and see my now bony shoulders, sunk in eyes and cheeks and hunched over stance. It's not gonna be easy, but I'm determined. It's hard not to be when you have a gorgeous wife and two amazing sons to live for!!! I'm gonna end here before I cry on my keyboard. :)

Jeremiah 29:11
Romans 8:28


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not what I was expecting...

I'm in week 5 of the CFit program and it's going great! Three days of lifting and 3 days of running, combined with no soda intake during the week, a minimum of 44 oz of water a day, veggies at 5 meals a week and continuing to do two sets of treatments a day has been doing work on my body!! I'm loving every second of it! Part of P90X is tracking your reps/weights for all the exercises on worksheets. Watching the amount of weight I lift go up every week and number of reps on things like push-ups and pull-ups is awesome! The week 5,6, and 7 DVD's are some of my favorites.

I have yet to weigh myself on my scale at home, but at clinic yesterday they had me at a 5 lb weight gain! I'll take it! I got a compliment from a lady at church Sunday too. She said I looked good and she asked if I had put on some weight, lol! I take that as a compliment (she meant it that way)! I feel really good!

My runs are getting longer and more intense, but so far I'm able to do them with relative ease. My 35 minute run Saturday was a little tough, but all the rest have been good. I'm excited to have some nice weather in St. Louis finally. Now I can start running outside instead of on a treadmill watching Rob & Big episodes, haha!

As I said I went to clinic yesterday. I went after I got off work, which I always feel puts me at a disadvantage. I do a lot of running around at work and don't get much break time to hydrate and eat besides lunch. I was falling asleep in the waiting area before my PFT's, lol. My FEV1 was down to 58% from 64%. I was very surprised. It was not what I was expecting...

I could tell once I did my first attempt it was no good. I was really congested and not at all how I had been feeling. The other attempts were the same with no improvement. Whether it's because I was tired and junky from not having done any treatments since 5am or because I'm having a slight exacerbation, I'm not sure. Ronnie assured me that he had seen this before and it has happened to him. After starting an extreme workout regimen like the one I'm on, our lungs can get a little upset at us, lol. Maybe that's it, I made them mad. Either way I landed on cipro for 3 weeks. Hopefully it'll do the trick. I'm gonna push even harder than I was before. It's amazing how you push hard and always feel you're giving your all, then you get a little motivation and are able to push even harder. Last nights workout was proof! After I got done, I couldn't lift Jeriah (aka skinny boy) above my chest. My chest, shoulders and triceps were toast!

Ronnie told me a saying that works for him and it has stuck with me. I find that it not only applies to my CF but life in general in a lot of ways. "It's not about me." It's such a simple phrase. Since Ronnie told me that I've used it many times, even saying it out loud while running or lifting. It's not about me... it's about my wife and my boys, I do my treatments and push my body to the limits to improve my health for them. Powerful stuff huh?!

Anywho, besides the little speed bump of a dip in my FEV1, everything is going great! I'll keep you guys posted! Thanks for reading!!!