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Real 65 : Jigglyknits

Real 65 is a segment of Breathe 3-65 that is dedicated to entries and interviews sharing honest and personal experiences of living with, treating, and loving someone with Cystic Fibrosis. 
It is a place for all those impacted to share their stories

Today's Breathe 3-65 is a special Q&A with a remarkable woman that is a part of the CF community. It was so much fun! It's so special to share the stories of people like Jen who are a part the CF community - sharing how they're using their own talents and passions to inspire those around them. 

 

Question- Tell us a little bit about your story.

Answer - My name is Jen, I was diagnosed with CF at age 5, and I’ll be celebrating turning 37 in just a couple of months. I grew up in Casper WY but now live in Bellingham WA (right between Seattle & Vancouver BC). I’ll always be a Wyoming girl at heart, but absolutely love living in the Pacific Northwest.

When I was 2 my mom had heard about CF on the radio during a “kiss your kids” campaign and realized that my extra saltiness fit the description. She took me to a doctor and was told that she was just being a paranoid first time mom and that I was fine. Then a few years later at my pre-kindergarten appointment she mentioned my distended belly to the doctor (a different one) who had me tested for CF.

 

Q - How has CF influenced the person you are today & how you choose to actively live your life?

A - Growing up I was pretty embarrassed about having CF. Since I grew up in pre-social media days and lived in a small town, I was the only one that I knew that had it so I felt very different from the other kids. My CF is fairly mild, so I was always able to hide it and I really only told a few people that were close to me about it.
As I’ve gotten older and I’ve had to integrate more treatments into my routine, I’ve had to make “having CF” more of a part of my life. I am a lot more open about it now, and I don’t really mind telling people that I have it. I started with baby steps by blogging and posting under the name jigglyknits since it gave me some anonymity, but I’ve gotten to the point where I just assume everyone knows that I have CF since I share so much of it on social media now. I’ve also matured enough to realize that the more awareness there is about it, the more fundraising will be done, and a cure can be found.

I never really have, and still don’t, let having CF hold me back from anything. It might make some things more difficult, but not impossible. No matter how much planning and packing for a trip seems like it.

 

Q - Knitting clearly has become something special in your life - what role does it play in your life with CF? Where and why did you learn how to knit?

A - I’ve always loved making things. If it’s some sort of craft, I’ve tried it (or it’s on my list to try). My mom is the same way and was always doing different crafts when I was a kid. She taught me how to cross stitch, crochet, and knit. I didn’t really keep up with knitting, but about 7 years ago I decided that I wanted to give it another try, so I ended up re-teaching myself using videos on the internet. For me, knitting is very therapeutic. Maybe it’s because I have to focus and count while I’m doing it, but when my anxiety starts getting to be too much, I can pick up a project and it really helps to calm me down and get back into a better frame of mind. It’s also portable, so can be brought along to fill the time while waiting around at clinic!

 

Q - What is Jigglyknits & how has this turned into a passion project? How has knitting positively influenced your life and continued journey with CF?

A - Last year when my lung functions started to drop and I had to start doing regular Vest treatments, I was gathering up some knitting supplies to have something to do to pass the time. My husband was watching me and made a comment about how I should sell what I make and donate the money to the CF Foundation, and that I could call it jigglyknits (the name jigglyknits comes from the fact that we have always called the Vest my “jiggly vest”, because of how much it shakes my whole body). As I did my treatment that day I thought a lot about what he said and it just really struck a chord with me. If I was already going to be spending this time helping my health, why not use it to benefit others too?

It also really helps to hold me accountable to doing my treatments, since it gives me a tangible reason and goal to doing them. It’s really made me have to “own” having CF and take better care of myself. Social media is huge too. Through my jigglyknits instagram account I’ve been able to meet and interact with so many other people that have CF that it makes it all feel a little less isolating.


Q - Would you consider sharing your passion for knitting with others with CF and teach them how to knit? A CF knitters group? Jiggly Knitters?

A - When I was in the early planning stages for jigglyknits, I actually envisioned having a team of knitters with CF that made items while doing their treatments. Then with each item that someone bought, they would get a card with information about the person that made it. I don’t really know how to implement it, but I would love to be able to expand to that level.

Logistically, teaching people to knit over the computer might be challenging but I’m definitely open to the idea if there is anyone that would want to join me and be a jiggly knitter!
 

Q - How can people support your shop and purchase or order a Jiggly Knit item?

A - One of these days I’ll get my own website set up, but right now I am selling through etsy at www.jigglyknits.etsy.com.

 

- About Today's Contributor - 

Jen Eastin is a 37 year old from Bellingham, WA living with cystic fibrosis. She is the founder and hands behind Jigglyknits. Find out more about Jigglyknits on facebook and Instagram!

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Real 65 : Project CF Spouse

Real 65 is a segment of Breathe 3-65 that is dedicated to entries and interviews sharing honest and personal experiences of living with, treating, and loving someone with Cystic Fibrosis. 
It is a place for all those impacted to share their stories. 

The impact of CF extends far beyond the individual whom is diagnosed with the disease. CF transforms not only a single person but an entire community of friends, family, loved-ones, and spouses. And with a complex disease that can be so incredibly isolating, it's more important than ever to connect and find support in each other. And that is just what Megan Barker is doing. It is with great excitement we share today's guest post written by a stunning example of what it means to love and live as the spouse of someone with CF. People like Megan are making our CF community stronger and more tenacious through a project she founded called "Project CF Spouse." It's a great honor to share her story:

"I think it was around the second or third admission my husband had after we started dating, that I realized that my friends didn’t quite grasp the realities of dating someone with CF.  Questions like “He’s in the hospital AGAIN?” were asked multiple times.  It was hard for me.  I didn’t want to burden him with my fears, as I knew he had his own with each admission and sickness.  I had made lots of friends in the CF Community, mostly parents to kiddos with CF, but not any other spouses.  I really wanted to find someone who I could vent my fears and frustrations to who understood them. 

After a search on the Internet one day, I came across a blog owned by a CF Wife!  I was elated!!  After messaging back and forth, Amanda and I became fast friends!  Shortly after connecting with her, I was given the names of another CF couple by a friend.  I reached out to Kayse and much like with Amanda, a friendship formed fast!!  That’s one thing that I have really seen with the CF community, we are very close!!

I began to connect with other wives and decided to make a group on Faceboook that could serve as a support group for all of us!  It was a great place to ask questions, vent frustrations or just have support from someone who understood.  The group grew and grew!!! It was great!  What started with about four ladies, had grown to over one hundred members!  Each of us were at different places with our journeys with CF and eventually emotions divided the group and it was dissolved. 

After being a part of that group, I saw how important it was to have others who related to the CF Spouse-world.  I spent a lot of time talking with others to see what the most important part of that original group had been and from there, began to lay the groundwork for what would become Project CF Spouse.  In late 2016, Project CF Spouse, a non-profit organization, was established. 

I wanted to be able to take the experiences gained from the amazing women I had met along my journey and grow that into an organization that was designed to provide education and resources, in addition to the support that was so valuable.  I knew that there were lots of new people starting their journeys with their CF spouse (thanks to invaluable research and medications) and I wanted us seasoned spouses to be beacons of hope for them! 

There is so much that I see this organization being able to do!  Our amazing Board has put together some great goals for us and I look forward to working to bring those to fruition as well as continuing to look for ways to use this organization to help anyone who needs it!"

 

"Project CF Spouse is a nonprofit dedicated to educating and supporting spouses of people with CF. The Impact Grant will be used to grow the 150-person group, which started on Facebook, into an organization that will provide educational resources and access to other spouses and people with CF." - Cystic Fibrosis Foundation from "Impact Grant Awardees" Please visit Project CF Spouse on Facebook for more information and to join. 

 

- About Today's Contributor - 

Megan Barker is the Founder of Project CF Spouse! Her husband, Ty, has CF and he is her hero! He was diagnosed when he was 11 after having lots of respiratory issues. He just turned 39!! They have twin little boys who keep them hopping! Megan is a respiratory therapist, which is very handy when you are married to someone with CF!

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Real 65 : A Testament to Love

Real 65 is a segment of Breathe 3-65 that is dedicated to entries and interviews sharing honest and personal experiences of living with, treating, and loving someone with Cystic Fibrosis. 
It is a place for all those impacted to share their stories. 

The complexity of CF extends far beyond the sticky mucus that fills the lungs, pancreas insufficiency, and skin dusted with salt- it's felt within every emotion, relationship, and mood. Living with CF can be both mentally and physically exhausting and that can often times come out upon friends and family. Today's guest post by Chrystal is an honest and real portrayal of the struggles of living with CF and the impact it can have on those closest to her. It also is a great testament to love and always finding gratitude for those who are willing to share in the journey of living with CF. 

"It's happened again.  I'm at the end of a long day of family activities and the exhaustion crept up on me...until it pounced suddenly and I snapped.  I think any mom can relate.  The three year old wants to play dress up with jewelry and I'm too tired to sit up straight.  Let alone see straight to fix the tiny clasp of a necklace.  She doesn't understand why I'm short with her.  She tries though.  She'll ask if I need a therapy, or she'll put her little hand on my chest and close her eyes for a few seconds.  And then announce that I'm all better.  So cute.  

There's a part of me that hates that she has to know I'm sick.  When I'm struggling to breathe or when it hurts to inhale deeply, she watches me closely and seems to understand.  Maybe it's a gift I'm giving her, the gift of empathy.  Of seeing another person in pain and stopping what you're doing so that you can sit and be with them.  

Then there's my husband.  What a saint!  When CF literally takes my breath away and I need a therapy immediately, I can get pretty testy with anyone who gets in my way.  It just feels so urgent, the need to breathe.  And it is urgent.  But I've found there's a difference between what's urgent and what's important.  In the big picture, my need to breathe is not any more important than his need to feel appreciated.  

Even though it means sacrificing his needs at that moment, he consistently does whatever i need so that I can get my therapy done.   I find cf to be a task master at these times, my lungs demanding the relief that comes with airway clearance. So uncompromising, and potentially so hard on a marriage where compromise is essential. My dear husband will postpone his plans if our little girl isn't in the mood to sit through one of mommy's therapies.  They will leave the house so I can focus and do my best therapy possible.

What tears me up is when I catch myself snapping at him because, even though he's sacrificing his plans for the evening, I think he's not moving fast enough.  I forget his very important, though seemingly not urgent, needs.  In my haze of breathlessness I overlook the fact that he needs to hear an encouraging word from me.  A grateful word.  A long, heartfelt embrace.  Those things speak to him and meet his needs.  Even though, in the moment of exhaustion, I feel like I barely have the energy to breathe through my last therapy of the day.  Especially then, I need to pause, look him in the eye, and tell him how much he means to me.  How I couldn't do it without him.  That I like his sense of humor.  That I like him, period.

When we were dating, I told him I might not live long enough to celebrate any meaningful anniversaries.  Like a 10 year anniversary.  My thought was perhaps he would want to choose a different spouse that he could more likely grow old with.  His response, which I'll never forget, was "I don't care if I only get you till you're 30 or 40 or 50.  I want you."  Wow.  So sweet.  He is still the sweetest man I've ever met.  And the most forgiving.  

There are no guarantees in life, and I've learned that first hand.  I thought it was guaranteed that I wouldn't make it to 40 years old.  I thought I would never have a child of my own.  And I thought I could never respect and adore Lucas more than I did when we were dating.  But I find my admiration growing with every selfless act of my faithful husband.  Thank you, Lucas!"

- About Today's Contributor - 

Chrystal is a 42 year old with CF.  She has her degree in elementary education with a minor in family ministry. Her passion is her family: husband of 17 years, Lucas, and three year old daughter, Hadassah Joy.  In her free time, Chrystal enjoys rough housing with her dogs, playing at parks with her daughter, and discovering new restaurants to enjoy with her husband. Read Chrystal's other contribution to Breathe 3-65 - Chrystal & Lucy

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

The Joy of Giving

It’s a beautiful thing when people see beyond their differences and join together in a common experience. These days there are plenty of things that threaten to divide our country, society, communities, and even our homes and families. But when we choose to see past our differences and the things that divide and push us apart, something amazing can happen.  Most people have a few universal values that they hold in common and are dear to their hearts. The holiday season gives opportunity to pause, reflect, gather with friends and family, and reconnect with some of those values and experiences.

One of these experiences is the joy of giving.  Parents work hard to keep the secret, the mystery, and the intrigue of Santa alive for as long as possible with their children, both because they love to see the wonder and awe in their children’s eyes, and also because it brings the parents a full heart and much joy to be able to give to their children. Adults keep the joy of giving alive by doing secret Santa exchanges and giving gifts to their friends and family members who likely do not truly need anything, but experiencing the joy of giving urges them to give.

It’s great to give to those we love and are close with- our children, family, and friends. It’s pretty easy to see past our differences with them and give to them out of love. But there are many opportunities to see past our differences with those on a greater scale in our communities and across the country, and to experience the joy of giving at a whole new level.

Today is #GivingTuesday.  Today is an opportunity to connect with the joyous feeling of giving, and to do so by supporting one of a host of worthy groups, causes, and charities. All across our community and country people are doing good. They spend time, energy, resources, and money helping and advancing the lives of others and the state of humanity. They experience the joy of helping others, and today you can join in that joy by giving your support. Today you can embrace the joy of giving. Let us come together under the banner of doing good. Surely, doing good is something we can all agree upon, and today is as good an opportunity as ever to take action- pledge support, pledge resources, pledge money to a cause, group, or charity in your community or in our country that is doing good. 

Donate and put this photo as your temporary profile image or share it to social media to show your support for Breathe Bravely and Giving Tuesday!

This #GivingTuesday may you know the impact of your generosity, support, and the good you share. On this day devoted to the joy of giving, I ask you to consider supporting an organization that strives to give - give voice to CF, that is.  Breathe Bravely just celebrated its year anniversary and we are deeply grateful for each of you and the support you fervently share with us. Breathe Bravely has big dreams that are coming to life by the day and by the moment. This year is going to be an unforgettable year in the life of Breathe Bravely - aspiring to impact so many through its programs like sINgSPIRE, Brave Bundles, and signature Breathe Bravely events. Today, experience with us the joy in giving - giving voice to CF by supporting Breathe Bravely. 

 

Share your voice and - DONATE -

 

Today's Breathe 3-65 entry written by Mark Bonnema. 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Real 65 : Dana's Dream Part I

Real 65 is a segment of Breathe 3-65 that is dedicated to entries and interviews sharing honest and personal experiences of living with, treating, and loving someone with Cystic Fibrosis. 
It is a place for all those impacted to share their stories. 

 

Today's Real 65 is a great honor to share with all of you. Dana's passion for life is infectious. It is such gift to have her share her journey of CF with all of us and invite us to walk along side her as she relates her own life to every one of ours. Life with CF is not fair but it still can be incredibly beautiful - Dana's journey is a perfect example of that.
 

“The faster we live, the less emotion is left in the world. The slower we live, the deeper we feel the world around us.”

"As a society we all have something in common.  Although we are all very different, there is one thing that connects us all and that is emotion.  Everyone has their bad days struggling to find the happiness in those moments.  I believe that it's okay to feel sad or angry.  Or maybe you are nervous, anxious, or frustrated.  I believe that all these emotions are important to feel and important to acknowledge.  Having one emotion consume your life while it’s pushing away the others usually ends in ourselves feeling like we are about to explode, or that we are carrying a significant amount of weight on our shoulders. I believe that particular statement even goes for such an emotion as happiness. Sharing and feeling all types of emotions are healthy for the human body and brain. Our multiple emotions is what makes us who we are. It shows us that we are alive. Experience and life itself gives us emotion, therefore molding us into who we are supposed to be.  So as you embark on this journey with me, I would like to welcome you to my emotional roller coaster. 


I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at three months old.  My parents were twenty two years old and I was their first born.  Talk about an overwhelming amount of news.  The medical staff of doctors and nurses told my parents that it would be very unlikely for me to make it to my eighteenth birthday.  Well here I am today, very proud to say that I am twenty seven years old and have accomplished so much in my life.  My story has been far from boring and although difficult and debilitating situations arose many times, somehow I wouldn’t go back and change any of it even if I could.  I believe that CF; no matter how much physical/emotional stress and torture I have been through, it has somehow helped me become the person I am today.  That I am very proud of.

I am far from perfect, but everything I write is from my heart and it’s honest. I strive to be the best version of me that I can be. Even though on the outside things can look normal, it's what's behind closed doors. That's the real stuff. For a long time I would always try to smile and mask how I would feel physically and mentally. But now, I don't try to be strong for everyone else. I don't lie and put on a show to make people think I'm always doing okay. What you see is what you get. It's not for pity and it's not for attention, it's reality and it's also awareness.


I've felt almost every emotion in the book over these past two and a half (almost three) years. I've broken down, I've spent hours crying, and I've been so angry I’ve wanted to just scream at the top of my lungs. I've been anxious and nervous to the point of my brain feeling like it wanted to explode. I've been in the worst pain of my life to the point that I just wanted to slip into the deepest sleep forever so I wouldn't have to feel anything. With new situations or with unexpected scenarios brought me fear. I've been scared, SO unbelievably scared because for the longest time it was like I was physically watching myself disappear.

But lets start at the beginning.  As a kid growing up, my parents strived to make my life as normal as possible.  I participated in many activities and sports, and if I didn't abide by the rules, I also got in trouble like everyone else.  The approach my parents took due to my situation had its advantages and disadvantages, but I believe that living a “double life” at times allowed me to learn how to understand others better by seeing and experiencing those different ways of life.


When I was around nineteen, twenty, and twenty one years old, I went through my “rebellious” stage, but thankfully I overcame that and saw what was really important.  So I got my act together and from then on I took care of myself the best way I knew how.  No matter what I did though, CF had its own agenda.  A year later is when things became harder, and my life as I knew it was about to change big time.  I was told by my medical team that due to the fact that things were becoming more difficult, and I was getting harder and harder to treat with my extremely resistant bacteria, it was time to look into transplant.  Not exactly the news I wanted to hear and definitely not where I wanted to be in life at twenty four years old.  I set up my appointments for transplant consultation and tried not to think too much about it.


Fast forward a few months later, things were changing and they were changing fast.  I went from being able to span treatment of IV antibiotics from 8 weeks down to 4 weeks.  The amount of time I would have to be on them grew longer, and treatment grew harder.  The need for oxygen grew from only needing it at night to then needing it every day, all day.  I couldn’t drive anymore, I felt awful 95% of the time.  I coughed so much, I literally was unable to breathe at times.  I remember gasping for just the slightest bit of air.  An unbelievably frightening feeling.  I’d cough so hard I would crack ribs which then brought on tremendous amount of pain.  As time continued to go on, I was in pain constantly, all over my body from head to toe. I was on 4-5 liters of oxygen, and I could no longer do much on my own.  I was now twenty five years old and everything I did was a true struggle.  My husband or a family member had to be with me at all times.  I needed help doing the simple things we all take for granted everyday.  Getting out of bed, walking to the bathroom or the kitchen. Bathing, getting dressed, and even brushing my hair was a true challenge.  Life as I knew it was no longer.  I would catch quick glances of myself in the mirror and when I stopped to give a good look I saw someone I no longer recognized.  I wasn’t “living” anymore, I was just simply “existing.”  I was slowly dying and my only hope was new lungs.


Going through transplant consultation was quite the experience.  It was a few days long and it took a toll on me mentally.  My husband and I went through all the classes and appointments and it was a lot to take in.  Not only were we dealing with the fact of my current health state and our lack of options, but we were trying to comprehend and take in so much information on a very important subject and decision.  The most nerve racking but anticipated appointment, was my meeting with my transplant doctor.  I already knew him from clinic and I knew that talking with him was going to answer a lot of questions or concerns I had about the transplant process.  He was very direct and honest with myself and Seth which is something I always appreciated from my all of my doctors.  After consulting with my doctor, I was told that due to my current and personal health situation, I was going to be looking at some possible complications that maybe others without my particular issues, wouldn’t have to necessarily face.  My success rate after the first year of transplant, was about 25% less then other CF patients that weren’t dealing with my particular problem.  After the second year, I was looking at a 50/50 shot.   My heart sank and I felt like I was a balloon slowly deflating.  Not only was I already struggling with the complications of end stage Cystic Fibrosis, I was now being told that my only shot at possible life again was “a roll of the dice.”  Unknown, and impossible to predict.

After the transplant consultation I not only had a lot to think about, but a huge decision to make.  Some of you may be curious as to why I would have to even think about whether I would want to proceed with getting a transplant.  I’m sure most of you would think that it should be a no brainer, being that receiving a transplant was the only shot at my life being saved.  I find that the most common misconception with transplant is the fact that many think it is a cure.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Receiving a transplant is without a doubt a wonderful gift, but going through end stage CF and transitioning into transplant is ultimately trading one set of problems for another (as the docs would say).  And when CF reaches its end point, your options are next to none.  It becomes hard for people that are not in this situation to fully understand the emotion and thought that goes into this.  During consultation they suggest that when taking the time to make this decision, that it is something that you are sure about.  Going through a double lung transplant is no walk in the park, and you have to be in the right mindset to take on such a life-changing procedure and event.  Before I went through this process I found myself asking the same questions that you may be.  “Why wouldn't someone choose transplant?”  Because when you get to the point of having to either accept or refuse transplant, your only other option is letting the disease take your life.  It wasn’t until I was sick and dying, that I found the answer to that question.  Cystic Fibrosis is what I sometimes like to call the “invisible disease.”  Most of the time we look, talk, and do things like everyone else.  But on the inside our body is struggling every second of every day to just do the simple things.  Then when severe times strike, we struggle to just exist.  Our life becomes unpredictable and eventually impossible to control.  But every day we fight for our life, because it’s just what we do.  It is all we know.  So to answer the question, I believe that some of us do not choose the transplant route because some of us have simply had enough.  Some of us become too tired and beaten down after all that we have been through.  Others find it easier to get back up after being knocked down multiple times, and then some just struggle more.  So I always say that everyone has a different amount of fight in them.  It doesn’t mean or come down to the fact that certain patients dealing with CF are better or stronger then others, I believe that it just means whatever our individual experiences have entailed, we either feel that we have reached our end point or we believe there is more out there for us.


When it was my turn to make my decision, I had wonderful support from my husband and family members.  They told me that whatever decision I chose they would support me.  I didn’t feel pressured into picking one choice over the other because I knew that they knew that this was something I had to decide for myself whether they agreed or not.  When I talk to people about this particular time in my life I always say that it was the most difficult, yet simplest choice I have ever made.  Confusing way to put it, I know.  I was twenty five years old and for as long as I could remember I have always let CF be apart of my life, not something that ruled my life or defined me.  I was never told that I wasn’t good enough or that I couldn’t do something.  I was always told to follow my dreams, and never let CF take those things away from me.  I was born a fighter.  I have never backed down and after everything I had been through and overcome up until that point, I realized that there was never a choice or decision for me to make.  It was just a realization.  The realization that this was in fact my path and just another chapter in my storybook.  Yes the odds were not quite in my favor and I had no idea what I was really getting myself into, but it was in fact MY only option.  My only option at a chance to live and breathe free."

Please join us next week for part II of Real 65 :  Dana's Dream.  

 

 

 -  About Today's Contributor  -

My name is Dana and I am 27 years old. I was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, but now live with my amazing husband in beautiful Central PA. 

I am a licensed Cosmetologist which has always been my dream job!  I professionally worked in a salon for many years until my health no longer allowed me to. Now, I do my work for just family members and close friends. I am also a dance instructor. I danced for 15 years as a child, and now have the incredible opportunity to be back as a teacher in the world of dance! Some of my favorite things to do are, watch movies, read, dance, and spend as much time as I can with the people I love! Writing has always been something I have also loved to do and with all my experiences with CF and now transplant, I love sharing my stories with others, in hopes that I can provide hope for others! We need a cure!

You can continue to follow my journey through Facebook by typing in "Dana's Dream Team" which is available for the public to see! I am always so grateful for the continuous love and support! XOXO

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Real 65 : Chrystal & Lucy

Real 65 is a segment of Breathe 3-65 that is dedicated to entries and interviews sharing honest and personal experiences of living with, treating, and loving someone with Cystic Fibrosis.
It is a place for all those impacted to share their stories. 

 

It is a privilege to share Chrystal's words and part of her incredible story with all of you. She is someone I greatly admire for her love of life and the hope she represents. Chrystal is a fellow adult with CF. Her life is filled with beautiful and unique experiences that continue to inspire all who have the great honor of knowing her. 
 

"The year was 2006, and she was the best 500 dollars we ever spent.  I had always wanted my very own dog, so I decided to reward myself for successfully completing another course of IV antibiotics.  Her name was Lucy and she had been abused in her short 10 months of life.  She was so skittish it was cute.  The submissive peeing every time she met someone new was not as cute, I later learned.  But the breeder said, after watching me interact with Lucy, that they would only sell her to someone she trusted.  Lucy showed her trust by leaning into me, ever so slightly, as I sat on the ground next to her.  And so began a four year journey of healing for the two of us.

I hadn't been abused in my 32 years of life, thankfully, but I was feeling beat up by CF.  It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I still got sick and needed IV antibiotics.  Even when I was "healthy" and not on IVs, the daily regiment of therapies and meds is exhausting.  My compliance was beginning to suffer as I sensed the futility of it all.  Why do a therapy when my lungs are just gonna be full of junk again in a few hours anyway?  Why sit, by myself, surrounded by loud machines that make it impossible to hear my husband?  I felt isolated and lonely during therapy, yet if I tried talking to Lucas it made my therapy ineffective.  I didn't know it, but I needed a companion.  One who wouldn't expect me to talk over the loud machines.  One who would simply be with me while I did therapy.  

The biggest lesson I thought I was learning at that point in my life was the importance of compliance.  My doctor at that time, Warren Warwick, stressed that the more I could effectively cough sputum out of my lungs, the fewer antibiotics he would need to pump into my lungs.  I am so grateful that so many hospitals, including my hospital at that time, allow a patient's pet to come visit them in the hospital.  And so my husband Lucas would bring my companion dog to my bedside, and I found it so relaxing to run my hands over her soft apricot colored coat.  She was a standard poodle so she didn't shed and I never found any of her hair sucked into my therapy machines.  Of course she loved the attention, and would sit by my side for every therapy.  

Here is where the healing happened over the course of our time together, without me realizing it.  Here, in the countless therapy hours, where it was just the two of us.  She changed from a timid dog who didn't even know how to play with a ball in the backyard, to a joyful canine that seemed to smile every time I tossed the toy for her.  And I developed the habit and discipline of doing my prescribed therapies every day.  My gratitude for the vest machine cannot be overstated, and I've become addicted to the feeling of being able to breathe without wheezing.  Doing almost anything to get that "fix," so to speak.  Even doing double therapies because I just love being able to breathe well for the hours in between therapies.

At the time we bought Lucy, we didn't think we could have our own children.  It was almost like she was my kid.  This is the lesson I was really learning, and the healing that was really happening in my heart:  

Lucy was living proof that I could take care of someone other than myself.  

That I am more than just the sum of my therapies and meds.  

That what I do matters, and that caring for another can get me out of the self pity that often accompanies a chronic illness."

 

- About Today's Contributor - 

Chrystal is a 42 year old with CF.  She has her degree in elementary education with a minor in family ministry. Her passion is her family: husband of 17 years, Lucas, and three year old daughter, Hadassah Joy.  In her free time, Chrystal enjoys rough housing with her dogs, playing at parks with her daughter, and discovering new restaurants to enjoy with her husband.
 


- Read more real, brave, and inspiring stories at Real 65. 

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.