Again, apologies for the infrequencies of my blog posting, but I’m trying!
I was hesitant to do a post like this because I don’t want to jinx anything, but I figure that I might as well go for it and I hope my success can inspire others to do what they need to to go above and beyond expectations. Last year, on November 12th, was the last time I’ve needed IV antibiotics. This is the second consecutive year that I have been able to go a full year in between sicknesses. Right now, I feel as good, if not better, than I did last year. But even if I do get sick this season, I will be so thankful that I have been able to go this long.
Flash back to before these past 2 years…. I was requiring IV antibiotics AT LEAST twice a year (sometimes 3 times) for 2 but mostly for 3 weeks and the majority of those admissions, I was sick sick. It took a lot of strength to bounce back to normal for those admissions. I considered that normal. It became part of my routine. I expected that I would get sick twice a year. And it’s no wonder… because during that time I wasn’t as compliant as I am now… and I was only active for about 4 consecutive months out of the year. This was especially concerning because my lungs were also colonized with cepacia (they still are). Presently, I can’t think of the last time I skipped a vest treatment. I know that, if I do… even just once…. I will not be feeling as good as I can.
Since those sicker days, I’ve also begun running intensely. I can say with confidence that I am in the best shape of my life right now. 3 miles has become my “easy” run… and I am signed up to run a 5 mile race on thanksgiving. My lungs feel fantastic for the majority of those runs– with the exceptions of a handful of bad days– but those bad days were the days that made me stronger. Cardio is THE number one way to increase strength in your lungs, to increase strength in your core to support those lungs, and to increase your heart strength to be able to handle the way you breathe. I CRAVE the feeling of running when I go a couple days without it. And just look at how well I am doing!
Looking at my PFT’s, which I have hung up right next to my desk to inspire me to keep pushing to keep those numbers up, they have been steady for 2 years. I have been able to keep my FVC over 100% predicted and they have even hit numbers at high as 116, 113, 112, 110…. My fev1 has hovered between 80 and 90 for 2 years… when it has gone as low as 60 to 70 at my sickest times in the past. (For CFers reading, I want to clarify not to compare your numbers to mine. PFTs vary so much from person to person, that it is not worth comparing your “normal” 60 fev1 to my “low” 60 fev1. These are just my own personal baselines, and I am trying to show that they have been able to remain steady based on my compliance and exercise.)
What I’m getting at is that I am living proof that exercise and compliance will do nothing but help you. In high school, I was at a point where I thought things could only get worse, that with my cepacia, my hospitalizations would only increase. But I have proved that to not be the case. I have been persistent, I have followed the majority of the guidelines my doctor has set for me, and I have gone above and beyond what is expected by strengthening my lungs further with intense running. If you need something to inspire you to get started, let this post be your inspiration. Its never too late to start. Though running or exercise may not cure you or push your numbers back to baseline, it may, at the very least, keep you from getting any worse. Its worth a shot. Start off with what you can handle, no matter how small, at least its something. Slowly build up to more intense cardio… keep pushing when you think you’re going to give up… only then will you build up the strength you need to get further and more intense in your workout. I didn’t get to the point where I could easily run 3 miles over night… it has taken a couple years of motivating and re-motivating myself to get that endurance. It hasn’t been easy, but I can tell you it’s been worth it. Let my success be an inspiration for you to do better.