2016: What goes down, might come up

2016 is a big dog dragging me toward 2017. I’ll explain in a minute. First, some backstory.

The year didn’t start well. January, February and March, my arch-nemesis months, delivered days ripe with fresh/nasty viruses, leading to two separate hospital stays.  Bad hospital stays. Both were filled with fevers, chills, severe SOB, and raging headaches. I ate Tylenol and yogurt and worked each day, barely, waiting for my late afternoon crash and burn facedown on the plastic bed.

I spent 24 days in the hospital and 12 days on home IVs over the course of two stays, leaving with my lowest lung function and O2 readings ever. And a bloody nose from sinus surgery as a bonus.

I left the hospital sniffing O2 24/7. The CF Clinic called it a “milestone” stay, but not in a good way like you’ve reached something great in your life. I learned that milestones can work backwards, in a bad way, in the medical community. I like them the other way.

So I wore oxygen in public for the time. Me no likey. I hated it. One website compared it to any other physical limitation, like wearing a knee brace. Sorry, I didn’t see it that way and still don’t. The oxygen cannula lives on your face, for everyone to see. It’s hard to hide if you don’t want to talk about it.

I didn’t accept this O2 milestone as fact. I got lucky. I have to thank a wonderful member of the CF Clinic team for giving the right tool for the job of getting off oxygen. She gave me an Aerobika. I started using it for 3 hours a day, and the poisonous oyster scum rose from the depths of my lungs and I got better. Slowly, but better.

(The Aerobika reminds me of the Flutter, but is easier to use, and works during treatments, a real bonus of doubling up on time. End of Aerobika commercial.)

Skip ahead to July.

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We went island hopping. This is Salt Spring island with Vancouver Island in the distance.

My family and I went to Vancouver Island for 9 days and had the greatest vacation ever. Forests, ocean water, jellyfish, ferry rides, deer, snakes, one raccoon, sheep, crabs, birds and awe-inspiring dinners every night in Victoria . And high-tea at The Empress Hotel.

I felt great. I climbed city streets, stairs, hills. I went paddle boarding and zip lining. All with no to little shortness of breath.

A miracle. I’m grateful. As if I needed more proof I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

I flew on a plane with no issues, though I have to use O2 now.

Which brings me back to that big dog dragging me to 2017. I’m one bad hospital stay away from needing O2 24/7 again, perhaps permanently. It’s coming. It is. Something oxygen this way comes.

I’m milking every day and every moment until then. Summer can’t go slow enough because I know “winter is coming.” And somewhere out there is a virus waiting, lurking, ready to etch its name into my lungs.

It will happen. I’m not looking forward to it. I can’t slow the damn clock. It’s such a strange feeling knowing that beating is on the way and knowing there isn’t anything I can do to avoid it. I just have to make it through whatever happens because who knows what next summer will bring. Perhaps, something magical like this summer. I can hope.

 

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Pure luckiness

Recently, while backing up in a parking lot, my foot hit the brake and the accelerator at the same time. My SUV lurched backwards quickly before I could step on just the brake. Luckily, no one was walking in back of me and I turned the steering wheel enough to miss the cars in the row behind. I was more worried about hitting people.

Luck. 

I wish my luck tranferred to Vegas and the Lotto.  © Maksym Yemelyanov - Fotolia.com

I wish my luck tranferred to Vegas and the Lotto.
© Maksym Yemelyanov – Fotolia.com

It’s an uncomfortable feeling to look back on that event even though no one was hurt. The mental nausea of the moment overpowers, forcing me to think about something else.

What if there had been people there? How would my life have changed because of that mistake?

Sometimes near-misses from my past gang up on me, and I am forced to remember how lucky I am to be here, alive.

A heaping mug of gratefulness I gulp from.

I have a wonderful, brave and caring wife. A fantastic and intelligent daughter. A house. Two dogs. A job that allows me to work from home, knock on wood. A stocked refrigerator. Friends in person and online.

Clearly, I am living proof that life isn’t fair if I got this much.

Oh, there’s the cystic fibrosis. Yeah, that’s been, well, not good. No doubt. But I inherited a variation of it that’s allowed to me have everything and more in life. I have no right to complain about CF* – or anything else.

That’s it. Clearly today, I’m feeling pretty lucky and grateful to the Universe that bestowed it on me.

I know all of my good fortune could change from this point forward. However, looking back on my life, there’s no arguing that I’ve been a very lucky man.

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*I reserve the right to complain during hospital stays.

My 2013 Christmas in Pictures

This is a very heavy metal clamp. On December 23, I broke my rule of walking barefoot in the garage. I just needed to readjust the clamps on some Birdseye Maple. Just take me a second. (See next photo)

This is a very heavy metal clamp. On December 23, I broke my rule of never walking barefoot in the garage. I just needed to readjust the clamps on some Birdseye Maple. Why wear shoes? I thought, as it would only take me a minute. (See next photo for aftermath of my poor decision not to wear shoes.)

This what a toe looks like when it's fractured in three places, like dropping a rock on ice. Luckily the doctor was in on Christmas Eve morning. I was one of many patients there who has broken a toe the night before. I can also add that when it happened it hurt a lot, making me nauseous for a minute. Afterward I walked a few miles on my treadmill and was amazed how much it hurt. Yes, I'm an idiot.
This what a toe looks like when it’s fractured in three places, like dropping a rock on ice, crack. Luckily the doctor was working Christmas Eve morning. I was one of several patients who had broken a toe the night before. I can also add that when the clamp scored the direct hit, it hurt – a lot, making me nauseous for a minute. After it happened I walked a few miles on my treadmill and was surprised how much pain a toe can cause. Yes, I’m an idiot. Now I have a walking boot, which I haven’t really used much, choosing instead to limp around as punishment for being so stupid.

When you put me in charge of decorating the Christmas tree this is what happens: The Broncos ornaments get prime placement and a lucky troll joins the party.
When you put me in charge of decorating the Christmas tree this is what happens: Broncos ornaments get prime placement and a lucky troll joins the party.

Santa brought my daughter a giant Jaxx beanbag chair. However, it's really the world's largest dog bed.

Santa brought my daughter a giant Jaxx beanbag chair. However, it’s really the world’s largest dog bed.

This is my Christmas haul. Once again, I made out like a bandit and am the luckiest person in the world.
This is my Christmas haul. Once again, I made out like a bandit and am the luckiest person in the world. My daughter also gave me a hip California shirt, but it didn’t make the picture because it’s in the wash. I did tell my wife that she didn’t need her own stud finder because it’s pretty easy to find me. She rolled her eyes (yes, it’s a miracle she married me). That’s it. Another Christmas spent outside the hospital. Winner, Winner, holiday turkey dinner. Happy New Year.