I am Jenga Man

This is me years ago. I have a six pack and a block missing upstairs.

After 15 days of the greatest fun I could ever imagine, I’m home from my vacation in the hospital. I have the deepest Tobra tan ever on my kidneys. Too bad they don’t show.

I’m surprised I survived this jaunt. I am, really. When my multi-resistant bacteria fire up, they do a number on me. And my bonus of premature appendix surgery, puppet hands, two blood clots and medium-well-done kidneys made the stay memorable.

And then there’s the prize I won behind door number 3: a big piece of plastic implanted in my chest and jugular.

Is it too late to trade it in for the cash? Why do they bother to color it? Am I supposed to feel better about it because I know it’s purple? Why can’t I have one in Home Depot orange?

I can’t say I’m in great shape today, or that we knocked the bugs down like we’ve done in the past. I feel discombobulated and am still coughing up more than I normally do after two weeks of go-go juice. I’m doing my best to stay optimistic but I wouldn’t be surprised if I make a return visit soon.

Work today ≠ Fun.

This is me now. Hey, somebody give me a hand here. I am missing blocks thanks to my crazy pal, CF.

Back in the day, hospitalizations were mellow events. The Doctor popped in for five minutes to make sure I was alive, and eventually kicked me loose to finish IVs on my own. We didn’t take blood or worry about my kidney function. I lifted weights and went about life.

When I needed to remove my PICC, I tied it to my dog’s tail, took a deep breath, and tossed a ball. Out with the line; back with the ball. Thanks, Nurse Chocolate Labrador. She was wired to assist.

Now hospitalizations are advanced Mensa-level problems straight from an episode of Star Trek. At some point, even Capt. Kirk would give up on me – too complex to solve.

The day the hospital doctor discharged me, he said he told his team that as long as he started his day with me, it was a good day.

Is that because I’m such a joy at 9 in morning – doubtful – or because I am so screwed up, he felt better about his day ahead and life? I didn’t ask. I was happy he released me.

Thank you for all of the comments and best wishes. As always, they made a difference, and I read each one twice – because I’m dimwitted and must.

Stay simple to solve.

Shallow thoughts from an idiot purple sheep

[WARNING: Adult language, themes, and childish thoughts – a bad combination. Read at risk to your mental health.]

The big monkey pays a visit

Life disguised as King Kong took its giant monkey hand, paw, whatever it’s called because I’m too lazy to Google it, and picked me up by my ankles and dipped me headfirst into a gas-station toilet. Then it slapped me to the ground like a wet fish and called it a head cold.

I have a bad case of mascot head, big and stuffy. My chest is congested, too. It’s not looking good for staying out of jail. I should know better than to go to the mall in March without a space suit – and one for my daughter, too. The term for “Mall” in my language is “Casa de Virus.”

Read the instructions on the soup can and follow them

Soups don't burn people, people do

I read the instructions to cover the soup bowl and let it sit for a minute before removing it from the microwave. But I didn’t let it sit or stay covered – hence the accurate title of this blog post. Instead I pulled it out and peeled away the plastic covering.

The escaping steam burned my middle finger, bad. Bad enough to override my mental ability to turn pain into pleasure, which makes me sound like I’m calling 900-numbers nightly to speak to dominatrices. It’s not nightly, just once a week, but even this level of pain overrides my amazing ability to withstand pain, which was honed by dozens of hospital visits and the hospital workers who think smoking crack and showing up to work is a good idea.

And, if Lizippy’s brilliant theory of “Google-search-word pervs” is true, I should get some new readers with this post. Welcome, slaves. Now sit down and shut up and beg for your beating.

“Leather-whip to the ass” fans aside, I will be borrowing my wife’s Vicodin, another key search word, so I can once again flip off Walmart when I drive by it. My thanks for selling me $5 rubber-hard pillows that make my head bounce up and down when I’m sleeping. Or, is it my rubber neck? Hmm, I did look at the accident on the freeway the other day.

Making a correct decision doesn’t mean a warm fuzzy feeling in return.

Yes, I made the correct decision not to go to Jersey yesterday. Still, today I stayed away from the knife drawer and was thankful California has a waiting period for handguns. Not a good day. The work team is in NJ and I’m not. Once again CF isolates me from the clan . . . of the cavebear – (more disappointed Googlers). CF has a way of doing that – for my entire life. I’ve always felt apart from others, someone who doesn’t belong, a purple sheep.

So, between my cold getting worse and not being able to travel, I’ve done a fantastic job of feeling sorry for myself today. I want a gold star and a meaty rib from the Woolly Mammoth we killed together, as a work team. We worked together to kill it. Go, Team Cavebear.

Guys, why am I by myself? Hello? Anyone? This cough isn’t contagious, you stupid fucks. Come back here.

Scare the people who knock on your door – if they’re not kids selling cookies or chocolate bars

Someone came to my door today selling steaks. Steaks? Are you f’ing kidding me? Who thinks of something like that? I know who – the guy who passes out on the couch with his hand in the front of his jockeys after drinking the entire 12-pack of Schlitz. Yes, my dad.

A dim Christmas bulb blinks while he’s sleeping it off, and he dreams: “I can sell steaks. I can sell steaks door to door. I’m a fucking genius. No one sells steaks door to door. I’ll be rich just like the person who glued sleeves on a blanket.” No, you won’t, Dad, because they sewed the sleeves on. My apologies to those Googling “selling steaks door to door,” but not to my dad.

The next time someone comes to my door selling shiate I don’t need, I’m going to put on my McDonald’s bag, or better yet, wear a bandanna, western bank-robber style. I’ll say in my happiest of voices, “I have highly contagious TB,” and ask them to feel my forehead to see if I have a fever, just like my mommy did. I’ll ask them if they’d like a whip to the ass, too.

Then I’ll call Mistress Honey with the news that some salesman who looked like my father dropped a box of $2 llama steaks on my porch. She’ll be angry because I’ve been bad again. Yes, I have.

When my mind goes south

[Adult language and themes]

I’ve been trying to figure out what happens when I have bad days and feel like ending it. I wrote the camel story the other day because it described that it’s not the single straw but the load that breaks my back. My doctor once described CF as carrying a full bucket each day and it only takes one or two added drops to cause it to overflow. Overflowing is bad. That’s when I end up in the ER because I think I’m having a heart attack.

My thought process can be positive six days of the week and “bam,” day seven arrives and everything goes south in a hurry when a couple curve balls come my way. I realize I’m not thinking straight, but I feel trapped. And only one solution sounds reasonable as an escape. I know I’m screwed up, but I can’t do anything about it.

Here’s a sample from the other day.

Blood streaks. Fuck me. Not good. Where will this lead? Hospital? No. I don’t want to go in again. I can’t go in again. I can’t do it. I can’t take another trip there. I have a ton of work right now and important deadlines to meet. I don’t want to talk to HR again or call my bosses and explain.

I should end it.

I have to fly to New Jersey at the end of March. I haven’t flown in almost a year. When I walk through the airport, I’ll be carrying heavy bags and exerting. Exertion equals blood. I don’t want to cough up blood in the terminal. I don’t want to cough up blood on an airplane again. What hospital will I go to in New Jersey? I can’t spend two weeks there on IVs. What if I need another embolization?

I should put an end to all of this.

An email saying I have to go to Detroit for training later this year. De-fucking-troit. No. Another plane trip. I can’t fly. I don’t know that city or anyone in it. What if I cough up blood there and have to go to the hospital? Two weeks in Detroit. I don’t want to go on that trip. How can I get out of it? How many special favors do I require at work compared to every one else. Fuck CF.

I’m not sure it’s worth going on.

I have a growth near my ass. How funny is that. I won’t mention this on my blog. Too embarrassing. Great. What doctor do I see about this? I’ll start with the skin doctor. Seems like a fatty tissue. Gross. I think it’s been there awhile. It it was cancer, I’d be dead by now wouldn’t I? Have it checked out. I hope it’s not serious, but I’ll ask the nurse to leave the room when the doctor looks at it. I’ll have to put one leg up on the chair. Embarrassing.

I can’t do this anymore.

My wife is going on a business trip for three days. I told her to go, but I wish she wasn’t. I have to take care of our daughter. That’s a lot of work. How will I do it? It’s the week before my deadlines. What if I cough up blood while my wife is gone? How fast can she fly back? Who will my daughter stay with? Probably one of our friends. How many days could I make it coughing up blood and not going in? The hair brushing and homework and all the stuff my wife does. I don’t know if I can do it.

I should just end it now. That’s the best solution. I can’t do all of this. I just can’t do it anymore. I’m embarrassed. It’s just not worth it anymore. I don’t want to fail.

So, that’s how it goes. At the time it happens, it’s serious, a wave that comes over me as the load becomes too heavy to carry. And I can’t break away from the thought process. It is a feeling of being trapped, and I have to escape. Then, later that day, I feel okay. Sometimes it takes a Xanax or two. And it’s ironic because every other day I’m worried about losing my life. This, however, I do know: It’s hard to be this screwed up and know you are.

Carry the Load, Crybaby

If I saw a psychiatrist, which I probably should, and he or she asked me what the future looks like, I would answer: It’s heavy. And I’d mean it in the sense that the future weighs a lot, that it has physical mass and I can carry it on my back – like a rock. And with every step I take, the rock gets bigger and heavier, growing from its molten center. At some point, my legs give out and the future crushes me flat, my arms and legs sticking out under its mass like Wile E. Coyote.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I think of the future, it looks difficult, hard, not appealing, filled with unpleasant events. Who enjoys carrying a giant tumor of a granite on their back? There will be more coughing up blood, more hospitalizations, more of everything CF.

And there will be dying. And there will be crying and emotions by others, though this is debatable and shouldn’t be taken for granted, as I’m not the most lovable of guys. And sadness. And the time my daughter and wife will need to find a way to pull themselves together, which I hope is short (move on, have fun. Enjoy at all the Craigslist furniture I bought you. Live like they do in Coke commercials.)

I confess: I have days when I wish the disease would take me, wipe away not feeling well and the buttery stress. But I’m happy that it hasn’t.

This I do know. The pressure to make sure each minute counts is great, oppressive, and increasing by the day. I can do the math in my head. I’m not going to be here in 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 or who knows how many years. Perhaps days. If I get in another argument with someone with blue hair who sees things that didn’t happen, my end of days may take place in prison.

I am running on fear. My tank is full of it, 91 octane, high-grade. Every day now is a bonus. I look at things more closely, linger on objects and people, the lines in my friends’ faces. We’ve all changed over the years. And I feel like I’ve been through so much, taken my share of beatings from CF and have the scars from each one. And I have more to come. I’ll take them like a man, or a mouse, and see the movie through to the end. I hope the CF Foundation or Sharktank or some drug company finds a way to stomp this disease’s demonic spirit of gut-ripping terror into the earth with the heel of a boot. For the sake of everyone one involved. I hope. And that makes the weight of the rock bearable for one more step. And another. And one more. And.

Just around the corner to the light of day

Can one have a mid-life crisis with CF? Many years ago, no one with CF lived long enough to have one. And clearly, barring any miracle of science and new lungs, I’ve passed my midlife point. Does “late-life crisis” sound more accurate?

Whatever I’m having is a realization that the days ahead of me are fewer in number compared to the days behind me. It’s causing me to reflect upon my past, the mistakes I’ve made, and what I cannot do anymore – the doors closed to me. It’s about quality of life, how to hold on to what I have – my job and a life of not allowing CF to overwhelm me – for as long as I can. And I wonder: Is there still time for me to create something spectacular in my life?

But the disease is playing by its own rules these days and my life as I know it is similar to holding two handfuls of sand in the wind. Everything is temporary, but I’d rather CF not speed up the process.

I once heard a parent of a CFer speak at a golf tournament fundraiser. He spoke about how he wanted to see his daughter grow up to be 18, to graduate high school. That was it. If he could just have that he would be happy. But when she reached 18 he wanted more. And at 21, he wanted more. And so on. I can relate. I never expected to be here this long. And I set my own age goals in life. Now I set them by my daughter’s clock, to live to see her graduate high school. But now I fear that may be too aggressive. It’s 10 years out. Should I be thinking in shorter chunks of time?

And then there is that hurdle of blood I have to jump.

The current unpredictability of the bleeding is a bitch. I’m gun shy now and almost afraid to write about it. Each cough feels like it’s going to be blood and send me back to hell. I know it’ll return; the doctors missed the bleeder. I just want to make it two more weeks while my daughter is on vacation and we can enjoy the holidays. Then, I can bleed. But how can I function with this time bomb ticking? What if I’m with my daughter in a public place and it breaks loose?

I just had streaking. Can I make it through tonight?

Two more weeks. It seems like such a long time. I don’t want to speed it up because it’s vacation. However, I look forward to the pressure being released if I do make it. Then, I’ll probably want one more week and another and another after that. Isn’t that the way it always is?

In the Cement Mixer

[adult language and anger warning]

It feels like someone, I mean CF, threw me in the back of an empty cement mixer and turned up the rotation speed to high. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, someone, I still mean CF, threw rocks in the mixer with me. The noise alone hurts my ears and the rocks cause bruising and welts. Then, as if that isn’t enough to cause pain, someone, you know who I mean, adds broken glass to the mixer. The glass cuts my skin and I start bleeding.

Life with CF - some days

Meanwhile, the cement mixer keeps turning and turning and the rocks keep banging against me and the sides of the barrel. The glass keeps cutting.

Then someone pours salt into the mixer, which makes my cuts from the glass burn.

All in all, this is what CF has felt like lately. First, the bleeding two months ago, two embolizations and 20 days in solitary. Fuck you, CF. Then more bleeding the day after Thanksgiving to show me who is really in charge – it’s not the doctors who perform embolizations – and eight more days in the hospital. Fuck you, CF. The hospital kicked me around too. A blown IV puffed up my left hand and I now have a two-inch vein made of rock. During the PICC line procedure my heart went nuts and a doctor actually had to come to the room. When someone was drawing blood, they hit a nerve and now I have nerve pain in my forearm. Then, one day out of the hospital I caught a virus and my white cell count shot up and set back my progress with the IVs. That’s the nutshell version.

Do I need to repeat tonight’s mantra? I think I do – Fuck you, CF, fuck you, because I’m still the luckiest guy in the world.

A Tale of Two Hands

To the untrained eye, my hands in the following photograph may not seem very different – each has an IV in it. However, to me, this picture represents the two types of experiences one can have in the hospital: excellent and crappy. And so much of that experience comes down to the people who work there and their talent and skill – or lack of one or both.

Which would you prefer?

Let’s start with the image on the left, which is my right hand. This is an example of a beautiful IV insertion with its stat lock and white tape and lack of excess tape. Everything is positioned perfectly. All in all, an excellent job.

The image on the right, my left hand, has no stat lock and looks like something I might do if I had the mind to insert my own IV, which I think I could do if the world was coming to an end and my life depended on it. I wouldn’t like it, but I could do it, though I might need the help of someone’s finger to stop the bleeding when I pulled the needle out. Look at the massive amount of tape used to keep the line in place because the thin white tape and stat lock weren’t used. I lost a lot of hair when we removed it.

Now here’s a question for you: Which site went bad and caused my hand to swell up and turn red? Easy answer isn’t it? I’ve been elevating my left hand for the past week to get the swelling down. The vein is rock hard above and below the insertion site. And it hurts. My medical diagnosis is Puffer Fish Hand.

This distinction between medical excellence and crumminess doesn’t stop at IV sites. It happens daily in the hospital with tests, procedures, and doctors. And for someone who stays in a hospital once in their lifetime, then the IV site on the right might not make much difference in the long run. However, I’ve stayed at the hospital four times this year and spent almost a month and a half there. The difference in the two types of care does matter because I’m exposed to more of these swings in quality the longer I’m there. They add up. And many result in more than a fat, tender hand.

Worst of all, not every difference in care can be photographed. The ones that can’t be seen scare me the most.

Life in the wild

During my last clinic appointment, I told my doctor that being in the hospital is like being in the wild surrounded by lions and hyenas and other critters intent on making me their dinner. That’s not to say the people who work there have the intention to hurt me – or eat me – they don’t. However, mistakes happen and stuff goes wrong. Some people are better at their jobs than others. The hospital can be a dangerous environment and one that requires my constant vigilance while I’m locked up there.

This appeared in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times:

USC University Hospital was fined $50,000 after pharmacists and staff gave a female patient with cystic fibrosis an overdose of medication in February, causing kidney failure and seizures. The hospital has since retrained nurses to verify prescription orders, created a new pilot program to ensure medications are administered correctly and started randomly auditing medication orders, according to a plan of correction submitted to the state. It was the first time the hospital had been fined.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/11/state-fines-12-hospitals-for-serious-errors-eight-are-in-southern-california.html

My best wishes to the CFer. I’m not sure of the outcome at this time, but I hope for the best.

When I was in the hospital recently, they upped my dose of an IV antibiotic I received four times a day. However, the pharmacy kept the 30-minute timeline to infuse it on the label of the IV. Luckily, the nurses caught the mistake, as it should have read 60 minutes for infusion time. They often frowned and raised their eyebrows each time they saw it, letting me know it wasn’t a good thing. I asked them to tell the pharmacy and it took a day to get the label corrected. So, I had to watch over each dose to make sure it was infused over 60 minutes. I’m happy the nurses caught it and told me.

Back to my analogy of the wilderness. I’ve had other incidents, like a nurse telling me at 5 in the morning that they gave me the wrong antibiotic or being given a double dose during a shift change. These are just a few of the events that have happened to me at hospitals. I feel I’ve made a few saves of others by asking questions and staying alert (when I’m not knocked out from being sick).

Here are some of the actions I take during  hospital stays (please note that this is not advice. It demonstrates how crazy I am, nothing more.):

1) I use the high-strength Super Sani-clothes to clean all surfaces I might touch during the stay. That’s right. When I arrive in the room, I put on a pair of rubber gloves and clean the tray table, the phone, the remote, the the bed rails, door handles, etc. Some of the nurses who know me bring me the pads when I arrive. It’s cleaning time.

2) I check all IV medicines they give me  and when they give them to me. I look at the labels and ask questions, and pay attention to the routine. At night, I confirm the schedule with the nurse before going to bed.  There have been numerous times over the years, I’ve called the nurses to give me IVs to stay on schedule. During the last visit, one argued with me over the correct time of the dose. It turned out I had the time right.

3) I try to be proactive. For example, in isolation, I do my best to make sure everyone follows the rules about masks and gloves. I stop people from entering my room, which isn’t always easy and can lead to a hospital employee with “tude,” which I can match. Most of the time, it’s temp nurses and RTs who don’t know the rules and try to sound like they know what they’re talking about when they don’t. Processes can be difficult to train to a staff. Temps don’t always get every memo.

4) I wear gloves in the bathroom (except when washing my hands). C-diff is a killer. Literally. And if it doesn’t kill you, it can make you wish it would. I’ve had it five or six times. I’m doing my best to avoid it. I also take probiotics during the stay and after. My last stay was my best yet for digestion and bowel health thanks to the probiotics. And not contracting C-diff was my reward despite being on three IV antibiotics. I also stopped the Nexium and Zithromax to reduce the risk of C-Diff.

5) Before they remodeled and put a pulse-ox in each room, I used to watch as the nurse cleaned it with a Sani-cloth, not alcohol, and then I washed my hands after using it. Even with one in the room now, I clean it myself.

6) If something falls on the floor, it’s dead to me and goes in the trash. Are there exceptions? Sure. If I dropped my iPad, I’d clean it. Sometimes, my charging cords hit the floor and I have to glove-up and use a Sani-Cloth to clean them. But anything else, it’s outta there.

7) I bring my own Pari Sprint nebs. I hate the cheap-o nebs with the long accordion attachment. I wonder what the particle size is. It doesn’t seem as good as the Pari.

I know I’m nuts. I have other quirks while I’m stuck in a hospital. And after the last hospital stay, I dread having to go back. I’ve knocked out a lot of days there but it’s getting old having to go in three or four times a year. It was easier when I was young and didn’t care as much about living. Now with more to lose, it takes more effort to stay healthy. That’s okay, I’m lucky I have the chance to do it. At least I don’t take that for granted anymore.

Reflections on the ICU and Second Embolization

(I’m continuing the story where I left off a few days ago)

After the doctors performed the first embolization on Friday, I started coughing up blood on Saturday, which was quite a surprise and a mental defeat. In my mind, it labeled the first embolization a failure, as I shouldn’t have bled again. And I must say the second bleed did seem to stump the docs, who thought they had plugged the leak. My most excellent CF doc explained it as a plumbing problem where pipes of different sizes meet and don’t line up correctly and leaks continue. I didn’t understand his more medical explanation but I had full confidence he did. One of the crazy weekend docs thought it might be from damage to my right lung, my bad lung (I have a good and bad lung), and told me I might need  part of my bad lung removed, which didn’t make me feel so optimistic about my future. Luckily, he was wrong and a stupid MF for thinking out loud in front of me, hence the reason he’s on weekend duty and not scaring the shit out of  patients during the week.

Now if I were completely out of it and in the hospital, the ICU would be the place I would want to hang out. The big glass windows and non-stop, obsessive care sounds pretty good when you’re in an unstable state and hanging on to life. However, when I was moved to the ICU for the bleeding, I was coherent and able to move around. That soon changed when they tethered me to the IV pump on the right side of my bed and the 24-hour heart monitor, oxygen and pulseox on the left side. Frankenstein bound.

As I like to hunker down in my hospital room with the door closed during my normal hospitalizations, this fishbowl of a room where I was the star attraction became my nightmare. When I discovered it had no private bathroom and came with a juice bottle for urine and camping toilet that folded out from under the sink, my bowels puckered up and went on strike. The privacy was one step up from a prison cell. And despite the curtains with partial coverage of the room, I hadn’t reached the point of no shame where I would feel comfortable when a nurse discovered me with my boxers around my ankles, iPad in hand and my rear placed firmly on the toilet seat. I may not take a shower in the hospital, and I may resemble a homeless man with my greasy hair standing straight up, but I’m not at the point where I feel comfortable having a conversation with someone while I’m taking care of business.

And to top it off, the first nurse, who had some a-hole laziness in her, handed me a green box of tissues to use when I asked her where the toilet paper was. These cheap hospital tissues are small and see-through and as absorbent as rock. A much kinder nurse gave me toilet paper when the situation became unavoidable. I made it a point to let the first nurse know about the kindness of the other and to give her a look of “I should strangle you with my oxygen hose right now, but I need it to breathe.”

Thanks to other emgergency IR cases, I didn’t get in for my second embolization until Monday afternoon. At this point, all airway clearance was stopped and they put me on steroids for the jaw pain. Adios morphine dreams, hello steroid hallucinations. Yep, hallucinations. Real ones. Good ones. Like the time I was sitting in bed and the wall moved forward at me real fast, back and forth. Or the time I lay there half dazed driving through worlds painted by famous artists. My favorite was the night I had imaginary friends in my room and woke to find they had abandoned me. What a lonely, sad feeling that was.

Monday afternoon rolled around and my lungs felt congested from no airway clearance. I said goodbye to my wife at the waiting room for a second time, deja vu, and heard the same potential complications speech from the doctor. With no bronc this time, I never reached full unconsciousness. I hung in the misty middle earth of reality and feeling drunk on Colt 45‘s. I do remember them cutting into my groin. I almost said something like “should I be feeling you pinching my private area?” but didn’t care thanks to the fifth beer in my veins. And of course the doctor asked me to perform the same task of a holding a deep breath, though I did have to clarify if he wanted me to start inhaling on 1 or 3. Let’s be clear here, Doc, I’m in an altered state and you’re killing my buzz with these reindeer games and their complicated rules. Is it 1 or 3 when I start breathing? Clarity is the key to happiness.

Three hours later, with Monday Night Football playing in the back room of the IR OR, the team seemed more interested in the game than me lying there on my back with a hole in my groin. Luckily, one doctor stayed behind to seal the leak, though I did think for a moment it would be fitting that I, a lifelong football fan, might die because of MNF. Doctor to my wife: “We’re sorry, we got so caught up in the Bears driving for the score, we forgot to close the hole in his groin and he bled out. But he did lay 100 bucks on them to win the game. Here are the winnings, which I’ll apply to my fee.”

During the three hours, the doctors did a lot of looking around. The area where they performed the first embolization looked much better than on Friday, which was good news. They also found another area that didn’t look normal, probably wasn’t bleeding, but fixed it anyway to help me avoid an episode in the future and help themselves feel better about it not being an unnecessary embolization. It’s hard to say if the second round of bleeding would have gone away on its own without the second procedure. It may have. We’ll never know. The plumbing may have worked itself out.  I was just happy to be done with surgeries that start in my groin.

And can I tell you that the next day when they wheeled me out of ICU and back to the CF floor, my mini-fridge of probiotics on a cart next to me, it was the first time in my history of hospitalizations when I broke down and cried. My CF doctor came to see me and I had nothing left. The energy I used to make it through the two embolizations, and four days in the ICU and three hours of sleep a night (the ICU is never quiet or dark), left me drained by that point and I was very happy to see him. It was the point in a spy movie when the spy, captured and tortured, finally reaches his pain threshold and breaks. That was what it was for me. It was the first hospitalization that broke me. I’m not proud of the moment but I am proud it took me dozens of trips there for it to happen. And I hope I never experience it again, though I have a gut feeling I will. At least I’ll be better prepared when it does thanks to the scar tissue from this visit.