Renaming My CF Drugs

It started with a puppy

Hello, Cystic Gal

When our then five-year-old daughter wanted to name our new lab puppy, we created a naming rule to weed out the names we couldn’t live with or inflict on the pup.

The naming rule: If we couldn’t stand at our front door and scream the name into the neighborhood without feeling embarrassed, the name was scratched.

Examples of names that didn’t make the cut: Cupcake! Creamsickle! Vanilla Latte! Banana Cream Pie! We laughed hard testing them, confirming to neighbors that we’re nutty, or least that I am.

Which brings me to CF drugs. Who names this stuff? Someone in Marketing obviously doesn’t understand what it’s like to take a medicine every day or every other month of your life. Or, at the very least, they don’t understand the psychology of the disease.

So, I’ve decided that a little renaming is in order.  Here we go.

Giving CF drug names some teeth
My wife once asked what drug I was doing and I answered, “I’m doing TOBI.” A small body shiver hit me as I realized how that might sound to the untrained ear. Not something I would want to yell from my front door.  Not to mention that our friend’s yellow lab was named Toby, and he couldn’t do much harm to bacteria.

We need drug names that sound tough. When I inhale or swallow a medicine, I expect it to go into my body and crush the last breath out of the bacteria. No more taking drugs with names created by nuns moonlighting as scientists. How about some muscle and weaponry?

Let the hellfire rain down on the cockroach Pa

Old name: TOBI. A name for a yellow lab.

New name: Armageddon Hellfire Mist. This drug name should be the equivalent of spraying RAID on a cockroach, then backing your monster truck over its carcass four or five times. If I’m going to invest 20 minutes twice a day breathing this stuff, I want it to be the end of existence for the cockroach known as Pseudomonas. I want this bacteria to face its worst nightmare – Armageddon – because this is a battle of good vs evil.

Old name: Colistin. A name a celebrity would give their kid.

New name: Lung-Jax. There’s no substitute for the scrubbing power of Ajax. I want my lungs shining like my sink and toilet do when my maid hasn’t been on a three-day bender of Mojitos and Manhattans. So shiny and new, the bacteria can see their reflection as they melt like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz.

Old name: Hypertonic Saline. This isn’t the worst name I’ve heard. I like the “hypertonic” part. Saline, not as much.

Love this stuff! Blast the mucus away

And Hyper-Sal? “I’m doing Hyper-Sal,” sounds like something a mafia wife might tell her friend over lunch.

New name: Hypertonic Jet Wash. Mythbusters placed an old school bus behind a 747 with its jet engines blasting. The “wash” from the engines blew the bus away like it was made of paper. That is what HJW does. Load up that old bus with bacteria and give them a ride they’ll never forget – right into a trash can on the wing of a paper towel.

Old name: Cayston. I want to tread lightly here because when I tested this drug I thought the nurse told me its name had a special meaning. Still, the name is a little too “prep school” for my taste. Let’s give Cayston a pet.

New name: CRR (Cayston’s Rabid Rottweiler) Unleash the attack dog with this drug. It chases down Pseudomonas aeruginosa and bites it in the ass.  “Oh, it’s just a doggy bite,” the bacterium says in its fake British accent, until the rabies start kicking in. No laughing then. And, no shot clinics in the lungs, either. Whose mouth is foaming now, bacteria scum.

Old name: Pulmozyme. I get it. The drug thins and loosens the mucus. Nice. I can work with that.

Clean-up hitter.

New name: Lobe Lube. This is like taking your 67 Mustang into Jiffy Lube for an oil change. Out with the crud, in with the new slippery oil.  Man, this baby purrs now. Not sure I’d take my new car here, but my beater, yes.

Old name: Xopenex: This sounds like something my crazy aunt calls her ex-husband when she’s pissed and lubed, which is most of the time.

Wedge those lungs open

New name: Crowbar. This has a double meaning. First, I want this drug to go in and wedge open my lungs, making way for the other drugs that follow.  Second, a crowbar is what my aunt used on her ex-husband to open his skull to the tune of 40 stitches when she caught him with Hyper-Sal’s wife. Good enough for her, good enough for me.

I’m feeling better already. Think of the marketing potential and packaging possibilities. Nice, huh?

Well, it’s time for me to go Crowbar my lungs open, flush them with a some Hypertonic Jet Wash, coat them with Lung Lube, then inhale a little Armageddon Hellfire Mist to kill the cockroaches that have been living large in my lungs.

I’ll get to the pills another day. I’m thinking Al Pacino in Scarface Say “Hello” to my little friends, Cipro and Z-Pack.


The Ultimate Cage Match? Fighting cystic fibrosis

Have you ever watched Ultimate Fighting?  It’s a simple concept: two fighters enter a caged ring and beat the living daylights out of each other until one of them is knocked out, gives up, or time runs out. It’s pretty brutal and blood is often spilled. I watch 30 seconds before I switch channels.

What strikes me about the cage match is how similar it feels to being boxed in or trapped by cystic fibrosis. Years ago, the cage was much larger and my opponent, cf, much weaker and inexperienced.  It was a mental game.  But my opponent has grown stronger and learned to punch and cheat and kick me in the groin.  The cage walls have moved closer together, too

Over the years, some great weapons have been tossed in the cage: TOBI, Pulmozyme, Hypertonic Saline, AZLI.  With them I have been able to give the hulking mass of bacteria a good beating.  Or, perhaps, at least moved it back to its corner to regain its strength.

But the cage feels tiny now and my opponent stronger and craftier.  The marks of two collapsed lungs scar my right chest, but most of the damage inflicted has been internal, though I’ve seen plenty of the blood.  And yet, I am so lucky, as it has hit others much harder and earlier in life.  But I still feel trapped by it, as it affects each decision and limits my choices in life. Just the stress it causes alone, is suffocating some days.

But I am lucky, very lucky.  I have my family, the CFF, my Twitter friends, my CF team, and  I know that soon another weapon will be thrown in the ring.  And better yet, one day someone will throw in the medieval battle mace of cf weapons.

With my spiked weapon in hand, I am going to beat the living shit out of this terrible disease for all the lives it has taken and the suffering it has caused. And then I’m going to beat it some more.  No horror movie ending here where the bad guy gets up again and again.  I’ll make sure of that.

Then I’m going to open the cage door and walk out, bloodied but still standing, the enemy defeated. What a day that will be.