Friday, May 12, 2017

Bumps in the Road

Hey guys!
Sorry I've been kinda MIA this year, but like I said before this is a good thing, it means I am out living my life.  This year I really have been!  School is out and once again I am back in Colorado, this time for most of the summer, no awesome travel plans to Europe for me this summer.  Can you get withdrawals from lack of travel because if you can I have them.  I miss being in Europe so much and can't wait until I can get back there.  Next summer anyone?

Anyway, this semester went well, even with the slight hiccup at the start, which ended up causing me to basically miss the first two weeks of class.  My classes were all super interesting and I really learned a lot.  My social life has also seen a few big changes.  Remember those great friends that I mentioned in my post from January??? Well one of them has become a little bit more than a great friend!  That's right, I'm dating now!  It has been going really well and is definitely an exciting new path in my life, neither of us is sure where this leads yet but it is an adventure and we are both enjoying getting to know each other better!

Most of my summer will be spent at home or working.  I am going on my usual Mexico trip, but for a lot shorter time this year.  Then at the beginning of June I am in a few weddings.  I have reached that age where all my friends are getting married.  The funniest part of all is that both of my groups of friends (School and friends from home) are at the marrying age despite being 5ish years apart.  It's what happens when the younger ones are part of the Christian crowd, why is it that Christian people often get married so young?

As far as my health goes, I've hit a bit of a road block.  Rember that crazy sickness I had back in January well, ever since then I have had a bit of a cough.  I had met with the transplant team in Phoenix and they didn't seem to think too much of it.  However I had this sneaking suspicion that it was linked to rejection.  After a bronch at my most recent Duke trip, it was confirmed that I do indeed have rejection again.  (What is this like my 6th or 7th time?  It seems like my only break from rejection was right after chemo, killed two birds with that one stone)  Luckily, so far I have only needed the lowest form of treatment they have for rejection, which is what I will be doing this time too.  I will start an IV steroid treatment tomorrow afternoon that will last for 3 days.  I will have to go back to Duke later in June for a follow-up bronch to make sure the steroids do the trick.  Steroids are not my most favorite thing in the world but I am thankful they are available and effective in treating my rejection.  Hopefully this time the IV goes in a little smoother than it has been in the past,  last time it took 6 tries!

With this last bout of rejection have been getting a lot of people wondering why I have rejection again, doesn't your body get used to the lungs eventually?  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  Rejection is always a threat with lung transplant and sadly is one of the leading causes of death for people post transplant.  The transplanted lungs are not my own cells and they never will be.  Our immune system is designed to recognize self versus others and respond to the presence of other by attacking and destroying the foreign cells.  Great when it is a bacteria invader, not so great when those cells are another's organ that is keeping me alive.  As of right now there is no treatment that completely prevents the immune system from attacking the lungs while still providing the necessary protection against bacteria and other harmful substances.  That is why it is so important to put off transplant as long as possible.  Transplant helps give a person more time but it is not a permanent fix.  One way you can help people like me delay the need for a transplant as long as possible is by donating to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation which does ongoing research into new and better treatments for CF.  They are not governmentally funded at all, yet they provide amazing support and treatment for all people with CF.  They are a major part of the reason I made it as long as I did without a transplant.  In July a group of us will be climbing the stairs at the football stadium to raise support for the foundation.  If you are around and interested we would love to have you join our team.  Please also consider donating (that's a link, click it!) to our team.  All the donations go directly to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation!
Thank you so much for your support!

 
At the Sand Dunes with Anniken (My Norwegian sister!)


Adventures with this crazy kid!

Art Night with these Cuties!

Some of the Climb Team from last summer!

0 days since last hospital stay

Blog post written back in January (oops, sorry guys!)



They say transplant is trading one disease for another, it's easy to forget this when things are going well, but inevitably post transplant "disease" has its way of keeping it on your mind.  For most of this year things have been going fairly well.  I have been mildly sick here and there but nothing major, well... until now.  New year, new germs, or something like that.  Anyway, I got pretty sick after the start of the new year, probably the sickest I've been in a long time.  It all started with what I thought was a cold but quickly realized it was much more.  I was still at home so I went in to see my CF doc there.  I was sent home with a few meds in hopes they would do the trick and they did... or so I thought.

Fast forward a week and I was sick again.  This time much worse than before and I was back at school.  I ended up doing a little research and found a transplant hospital in Phoenix so I decided to go there.  I figured they would know what to do and I wouldn't risk getting trapped in the ICU again (read about it here).  Luckily I made the right move.  This place seems pretty good and they have been doing exactly what I would think they would do.  I've only been in a couple days and already I am doing much better.  I was on oxygen when I first came in because I couldn't breathe and I am off of that completely now!  Hopefully I will keep on getting better and be able to get out of here in a day or two.  The semester just started and I really need to get back to class!

 My hospital streak is gone, but I am where I need to be for the moment.  I will have to start a new streak once I get out of here!  Thankfully I have some amazing people here who were willing to help me out, from taking me to the hospital and hanging with me for hours in the ER, to helping my mom get my car and just being here hanging out with me and playing games.  I am so thankful for the people I have in my life!
The start of this whole thing, I think Nora knew something was wrong

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Day 1059


     The day has come.  Today, October 12, 2016, marks 3 years since my transplant and basically 2 years since I finished chemo.  Wow!  Has it really been 3 whole years already?  It feels like it was just yesterday.  At the same time, lengthy pre-bed treatments, tube fed meals, coughing, lack of appetite, burning lungs, beeping IVs, oxygen tanks and an overall struggle to survive seem like a very distant memory.  I almost can't remember my life before transplant, almost.  
     Making it to 3 years is huge.  About 40% of my fellow transplant patients don't make it this far.  It is not just a statistic but something I have seen play out.  I have seen the dreaded message about a friend needing prayer as they take a turn for the worse.  Many tears have been shed as those battles come to an end.  It is an interesting experience to see friend after friend suddenly go downhill all while I am sitting here fine.  It is confusing, on one hand, filling my head with the why me's of survival and yet, it is also calming.  There is an interesting peace that comes with knowing, truly knowing, how fragile and temporary life truly is.  At any moment it can be taken from me, from any of us, and the thing is, there is nothing any of us can do about it.  
     So what do you do with this information?  You live.  You find what matters, what is worth your time, what makes you happy and fills you up and cut out what doesn't.  You fill it with adventure, with fun and laughter.  You fill it with people in community sharing struggles, joys, laughter and pain.  You say yes to opportunities and try not to let worry about the little things stop you from experiencing the big things.     
     3 years means I have lived 3 years longer than I was supposed to.  3 years means I have gotten to experience almost 3 years of "normal" life (all except that little cancer blip, two years ago).  I have had 3 years to share laughs and play games.  3 years to be silly and make up songs.  3 years to pull all-nighters full of good conversations.  3 years to explore this crazy planet and go on spontaneous adventures big and small.  3 years to meet people and make friends and I've loved it!  
    I won't lie and say I have enjoyed every minute but I have definitely liked a lot of it and I wouldn't do it differently if I went back.  These last 3 years have been some of the craziest but also some of the best years of my life.  If 3 years is all I get, I know that I lived those years to the fullest!  And, if I get more time, I plan to keep on living it, one day at a time because, honestly, that is all any of can really do!      
     This year to celebrate I am going somewhere to see my human smallness and fragility in a more tangible way, under the stars and the rising sun, surrounded by good friends, with an early morning trip to the Grand Canyon!  Until next time, get out there and live!




    

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Other Side of Travel

Somebody get that girl some hand sanitizer!

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to go on a 3 week long adventure through Europe.  I shared much of our journey on social media. Social media is a great place where we can catch up on people's lives and live vicariously through them, but it is only half of the story.  The pictures shared show the happy times, the beautiful scenery the best parts of our lives.  Just as you can cut the dumpster out of the picture of the beautiful gardens at Versailles, you can cut the hard life moments out and paint an almost fairytale picture of a very real experience.  Well I'm coming clean, maybe not completely clean this is not true confessions, (if you want juicy tidbits I'm not your girl!) I will give you a slight glimpse into what a trip is really like for a lemon and what it takes to make it happen.
Behind the smiles, before the yummy food, along with the awesome memories, is a world of pills, sanitizer, finger sticks, tons of luggage and a bit of extra planning.  It can make the difference between an enjoyable trip and a health nightmare (though as stated here, no amount of planning can truly prevent that).  It is the world that exists behind the scenes that makes travel possible for a person like me, a person with a chronic illness.  Unlike my healthy counterparts, I can not pick up and go in a moments notice, my travel essentials won't fit in a small backpack, spontaneous trips can't go on and on, they can only last as long as I have until my next refill. 

On this most recent trip what you didn't see was the half hour or so we were stuck at the Borghese Gallery because my body suddenly decided to make a whole bunch of insulin and crash my blood sugar, which took forever to come back up, or the amount of room in both my suitcase and carry on that was dedicated to pills and extra supplies,  It was a lot!  Basically my entire carry on and a quarter of my suitcase.  I would say this might be the hardest part for me because I hate having tons of stuff with me, I like to travel light.  In fact before my transplant I never used a purse, I was a pockets girl, if I couldn't fit it in my pockets I didn't need it.  Well now the amount of stuff I have with me on a regular basis could put a diaper bag to shame (okay maybe not that much, but in do have a ton of stuff I have to carry around.).  Trips, especially out of the country trips, are extra hard because in addition to my regular daily amount of supplies I have to be sure to bring plenty of extras in case something happens.  For instance on this latest trip I was gone for 24 days which is a lot of pills, but I also took an extra 6 days of supplies with me just in case.  So for this particular trip that amounted to over 1000 pills!!! Then there are all the supplies I need for my diabetes, pump sets (which come
in two parts), extra batteries, insulin (two kinds and an extra bottle of each), syringes in case my pump fails, lots of glucose test strips and of course alcohol wipes, tons and tons of alcohol wipes.  Then there are the quick sugar snacks I need for the inevitable blood sugar crashes.  All this takes a bit of planning since I need to make sure I have enough supplies on hand to get through the whole trip.  In addition I get an antibiotic to bring just in case and I also almost always have a mask, wipes and handsanitizer with me.  

Believe it or not this is what is left after 2/3 of the trip!  And it's only my pills, well and two pump parts.
On the trip itself there are usually a few times my health issues get in the way, I wouldn't be a true lemon if that wasn't the case!  This particular trip was no exception, although I think it was the smoothest trip health wise I have had.  I had energy most of the time and felt well enough each day to participate in the activities, despite getting sick less than a week in.  On my last trip to Europe, I stayed behind a few days because I didn't feel well.  This time I really only skipped out on one evening, which ended up consisting of walking to a place for takeout anyway. 
What were those lemon moments you ask, well like I said, I ended up getting sick pretty much right of the bat.  I guess looking back on it, it was kind of inevitable as I was around the most people I had been all summer when my immune system was at its lowest, my rejection treatment ended up happening days before my trip.  Luckily for me it seemed to be a quick bug as one evening of rest and a slower day following it were enough for me to mostly recover.  
My blood sugar proved to be the biggest issue on this trip.  The previously mentioned rejection treatment has a tendency to cause my blood sugars to get way out of wack and this time around was no exception.  I went from having extremely high sugars one day to crashing multiple times the next.  These crashes caused us to have to stop in a few places while I waited for my sugary snacks to kick in and allow my legs to regain their solid human status instead of the limp noodle like state given to them from the lack of sugar (cell energy) in my blood.  The Borghese Gallery being one of those places.  I also had a lovely crash while eating gelato!!!! (um... WHAT, crazy body gelato has sugar!!!)
Little did I know in this pic my blood sugar was crashing rapidly (quit wasting your time with pics girl, EAT THAT GELATO PRONTO!)

The Great 2016 Gelato Crash!

In addition to the interruptions, there are a few challenges of traveling, especially to another country with some unique needs. First of all I am sometimes limited in what or where I can eat as I have a few food restrictions and need to be extra careful about cleanliness and food safety.  An example of that, the sandwich. A staple it seems in most countries' diets and quite easy to find, yet if it contains any meat and is not hot I can not partake.  The other challenge I find when being abroad is knowing the carb content of my food.  You would think that  almost 3 years of having to count my carbs every time I eat I would be an expert at knowing the carbs per serving, but my friends you are mistaken, I SUCK at carb counting.  This is one area where technology has been a detriment.  Instead of learning carbs I rely on nutrition labels, online nutrition information and good old (new?) fashion internet searches.  Well my friends when the nutrition label is in French, a serving is listed per 100g and access to the internet costs more than college, you get some pretty interesting and highly inaccurate carb counts.  I mean does anyone know what 100g of gelato looks like???  Add to this that many packages did not include the amount of grams in them, forget being able to be like oh 100g is 1/3 of this 300g container.  Chocolate bars we found in the grocery store in Paris turned out to be my favorite nutrition label as there was literally a picture showing what a serving of the bar looked like along with the carbs found in it!  Luckily the word for carbohydrates is pretty easily identified in all of the languages we dealt with on the trip, so you know, it could have been worse.  Plus I had my continuous glucose monitor (learn more about dex here) which helped immensely as I could catch my highs or lows most times before they became a real problem!
Despite the challenges, traveling is great. It has been a while since I had been on a sightseeing type trip and I had forgotten how much I love it.  I get too comfortable in my known daily routine that I forget the true thrill of traveling!  My adventurer spirit has been reawakened.  I can't wait to get on to more windows! 


Here are a a few pictures from the trip:













Thursday, July 7, 2016

When bad things happen

      It is life, bad things will happen.  As much as we want to believe they won't, they will it is inevitable. I think one of the hardest things to understand about suffering is that there is nothing we can do to prevent it.  No amount of preparing, no amount of security, no amount of money, not even faith can prevent disaster from striking.  Yes, some people seem to get more then others but this could very well turn around and hit someone else.  
     I am sure that it is the same in any situation but since I am most familiar with the health world that is what I will focus on.  The world is filled with ideas and tips on how to prevent our health from failing.  In a single day we are often faced with adds and emails and well meaning friends telling us about, such and such pill, or drink, or fruit, or work out, or herb, or treatment, you name it, that will prevent our health from getting worse, prevent cancer, cure us.  I am sure that there are treatments out there that have great benefit but there is nothing that can 100% of the time prevent the bad from happening, it just does. 
     As a person who has Cystic Fibrosis and is post transplant I have come across my fair share of hardship and seen it in countless friends.  The question I am often left with is why, why me, why them, why not me.  This summer, and really the past year, has been especially hard it seems for my close friends.  One of my first ever friends with Cystic Fibrosis died a few weeks ago.  He had gotten his transplant not that long ago and was doing well until suddenly his lungs were having trouble, he ended up in the hospital and didn't make it out.  In the late spring another one of my CF transplant friends who I met at Duke learned that her lungs have quit on her and she is faced with having to have a second transplant a little less than 3 years after her first one.  The biggest shock of that situation to me is the fact that she doesn't even have rejection.  I had always thought that rejection was what to worry about and that was what would cause a person to need another transplant, yet here she is stuck in the ICU because she is doing so poorly with a new transplant as her only hope, simple because the lungs are done.  When I was going through my cancer treatment I met a guy who was a CF post transplanter who also had PTLD (my specific type of cancer)  Although his treatment went well and he beat the cancer, he ended up getting sick and did not make it.  Another girl I met who also has PTLD was diagnosed a few weeks after me, yet she is still battling it 2 years later.  Last summer out of the blue another one of my CF transplant friends died suddenly after having trouble breathing and being admitted to the hospital.  This past fall a similar thing happened to another friend when he got sick.  With all of these horrible things happening it is so easy to want to find a reason why them and not me.  But the truth is there isn't a reason, or at least not one we can know here on this earth.  
     Yet we all still try to do it, we try to find the answer, oh well they didn't wash their hands enough, or they went out in public too much, that is why they got sick.  They forgot their pills one too many times, or didn't follow the doctors orders.  Some times these answers are so simple we deceive ourselves into believing they are true and we find ourselves, almost crazy with the routines we follow in an attempt to prevent the inevitable.  Our routines give us the false sense of security that as long as we do XY and Z the bad will avoid us.  If I take my pills diligently and always get my labs done on time, I won't get rejection.  If I use enough hand sanitizer I can literally keep the germs away and will never get sick.  In reality infection can still strike no matter how careful one is and rejection can happen despite doing everything right.
      In may the year I got Cancer, I remember being in Mexico and slightly freaking out about using sunscreen and that I wasn't using it as much as I should be.  I remember thinking to myself "Oh no I'm going to get cancer because I haven't put this stuff on enough", then I read an article about how sunscreen may be linked to some types of skin cancer, which as you can imagine caused a real dilemma as it seemed I couldn't win either way.  Well I didn't get skin cancer but a few weeks later I found myself lying on a bed in the ER as life saving blood was slowly dripping back into my body while the doctors tossed around things like, Cancer, lymphoma and Chemo.  I ended up with cancer, which no amount of sunscreen (or lack of sunscreen) could have prevented and ironically was made worse (and sort of caused) by the drugs I  religiously took to avoid getting rejection.  Needless to say I was doing the best I could to do everything right and the storm still found its way in.  
     I think the important thing to remember when things go bad is that it is normal and it isn't the persons fault, sure there are some things that really can be prevented, but for the most part bad things happen despite our best efforts to prevent them.  In fact bad things happening to us is a promise found in the bible,   in John 16:33 Jesus says "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world."   The only thing we really can do is cling to each other and if we believe in God cling to him. 
     This post has been formulating in my mind a good part of the summer.  When I first began writing it I was doing well.  My weight was the highest it has ever been in my entire life (a good thing for me), my appetite was awesome and my latest CF clinic visit produced my highest PFTs to date.  The thoughts on bad things happening were simply observations of friends lives and memories from my past.  Well at the end of May that all changed for me as I began getting sick again.  At first I thought it was any old infection that would be treated with a round of antibiotics, some water and rest.  Well that didn't help.  Two rounds of antibiotics later and I was still coughing a ton, my appetite had dropped and I was horribly out of breath with even slight activity (climbing the stairs to my room for example).  I felt almost like my old pre-transplant self.  To make matters worse my PFTs (the test that checks how well my lungs are doing) had dropped a significant amount.  Luckily all this began happening right around the time of my next transplant clinic visit, so we added an unplanned bronch onto my visit lineup to check my lungs out and get a better idea of what was going on.  As I kind of suspected I have rejection.  I also have (hopefully had, as I am doing much better) a virus.  The bummer about this is that there is no treatment for most viruses, which explains why the antibiotics did not work.  The presence of the virus delays the treatment for my rejection because the treatment involves lowering my immune system more than it already is to stop the attack on the lungs, which is not a good idea when there is a raging battle taking place between my body and the virus.  I don't know about you but I'd rather not take out half my soldiers while the other side is already in the lead.  The delay in treatment means that I will likely be dealing with the effects of the rejection mainly the lower PFTs and the shortness of breath, for most of the summer as I won't begin treatment until close to the end of July.  It also means that my return bronch to check if the rejection is gone will be right before I start school, which kind of messed with my plans to move back to Phoenix.  The good news is that I am doing alright for now, my rejection is mild and likely treatable, I will still be able to go back to school (just a little later than I had planned), and I should be back to my post transplant normal in a few weeks!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Rearview Mirror

First things first, there is only one day left to get a shirt, so if you haven't done so hop on over to booster and get your shirt before they are gone.
        
Click here to order one!


        May is Cystic Fibrosis awareness month.  I am not sure how much awareness CF actually gets with people who don't know anything about it, but as a person with CF it is definitely in the foreground.  All of this CF awareness really got me thinking (well that and my most recent trip to the doctor), although I still technically have CF it is almost as if I don't.  There is a saying about transplant, it is like trading one disease for another, and this past week has brought that statement to light, it really is true.  As I see all the post from CFers about their daily struggle it has become clearer than ever to me how different my life has become.  I no longer do nebs or my vest any more, in fact I take zero breathing medications.  I also hardly have a cough and if I do, it is usually an actual sign of something being up not just routine as it used to be.  At my doctors appointment this past week I was reminded of how difficult college life used to be.  Post transplanters have it easy.  Treatment consists of several pills a day and maybe, if you are like me, some insulin and blood sugar checks.  When you have CF lungs treatments have to be done in your room, with electricity and can take over an hour at least twice a day.  It can also be tricky to do treatments with a roommate.  Pills are easy to sneak, not so much when you are strapping on an inflatable vest and shaking and coughing for twenty minutes at a time.  I remember when I used to live with roommates before my transplant I would learn their class schedule and fit my treatments into that so I could do them when I was alone.  When going through my computer files the other day I found this.  It is a note about doing breathing treatments in college: 
            It was the moment of truth.  I quickly sprang to action, shutting the door, pulling out the huge bag from under my desk.  I shoved the grey plastic piece into the wall and the control panel came to life.  Click, clack, click came the nose of the clips as I fastened the contraption onto myself.  The machine roared to life.  Suddenly I was very aware of how quite everything around me was and how loud this machine could be.  “what does this thing sound like in the hall, will anyone notice, Oh dear God please let these walls be enough to keep the sound in…” I would think as the minutes ticked away.  DING, finally my time was up, treatment one, complete!
I am currently a college student living, in the dorms, with CF.  I can remember my first night at school and it was a rough one.  In addition to worrying about classes, where to eat, who I would hang out with, how long I could go without doing laundry, and how long a person can survive on ramen, I also had the additions of life with CF and how that would all fit into college life.  For me the hardest part was doing my treatments.  At home I would usually do them in the living room, alone.  I was often the only one home in the middle of the day and the last one up at night and that would allow me plenty of time to get things done.  In the dorms I was suddenly thrown into this weird universe where I went to bed “early” and there was always a handful of people around, even if not in my actually room they were for sure within ear shot.  I began to get really nervous about treatments.  As much as I wish I was the perfect patient and never let my fear keep me from taking care of myself, I would be lying if I said I always did my treatments starting on day one.  It took me a day or so to ease into the process.  I also waited until I learned my roommates schedule (yes I’m that creepy girl who knew when my roommate had class) so I could do my treatments, in semi aloneness.  I ended up setting up a rewards system for myself to get me to do my treatments.  Yes a 19 year old used a reward system like a 5 year old to do my treatments on a regular basis, but it worked!  
I began to do my treatments every single day and eventually I got the to the point where I would do them in front of other people.  I quickly learned it wasn't really a huge deal and most people were interested in what I had to do.  In fact one night I let some of my friends try out my vest and we all had a good laugh singing and talking while shaking!  In the end everything worked out.   
        

Going to bed was also a whole lot harder pre transplant.  I don't know about you (but I'm feeling 22...sorry, I couldn't help it) but I am usually pretty tired by the time I finally decide to go to bed.  I just want to climb into my nice warm bed and go to sleep and now I can.  Before my transplant it was a different story.  Bed time preparations consisted of filing a bag with formula giving a shot and hooking my pump up at best, all that plus an hour long breathing treatment at worst.  I know I could have done my evening treatment before bed and hooked up my tube feed before exhaustion hit me, but I seemed to like the extra torture of breathing in medication while my eyes slowly fell, only to be rudely awakened by the ding of the cycle timer of my vest.  
         I also eat a ton now and gain weight almost effortlessly.  My life basically revolves around food, eating food, thinking about eating food, making food, everything I do seems to involve food. Before I would miss meals without even realizing it, I was just never hungry.  To be completely honest, eating wasn't enjoyable.  Because of the way my lungs (lung really) were the enlarged left lung put a lot of pressure on my stomach and my esophagus was not quite in the right place.  This made if hard to swallow and difficult to breath if I ate very much (read as, slightly more than a 2 year old).  In fact for the last few months of my pre transplant life, I basically gave up eating all together and was living solely off of my tube feedings.  Since the calorie amount was easily controlled I did gain weight but barely.  Now,  my tube has been out for over a year and I have gained 25lbs in 6 months!  In fact, I have gained so much weight my doctor thought there might have been an error recording my weight at my last appointment (well until she saw me, I look like a normal person now!)   
        The biggest change since transplant is the ability to breath.  Let me tell you, breathing is awesome!  I am so thankful that I get to experience what most people take for granted.  I remember before my transplant thinking how nice it would be to not think about breathing so much.  Yes I actually was conscious of my breathing almost all the time.  When it works, you don't really feel it, breathing just happens, but when it's not working, oh boy, you are very aware of every single breath.  In, pain, suffocation... out, cough, cough, cough... in... over and over again.  Now I don't even realize it is happening!  
        Although transplant hasn't been all fun and games, it has definitely been an amazing improvement over my past life.  I am so thankful that I made the decision and was able to get a transplant.  Cystic Fibrosis is a terrible disease.  It sucks the life out of you as you are more and more incapable of sucking the oxygen out of the air.  

one of my last vest treatments, this was a day or two before my transplant


Sunday, April 24, 2016

It's the End, or maybe just the middle


Two quick announcemnets
 this summer we are participating in the CF climb challenge, if you will be in Colorado June 25th please consider joining our team

Also we are selling lemon shirts again as a fundraiser for our climb team, so if you missed it last time here is your chance to get one, or if you grew out of the last one! :P




As  I write this I am sitting in the practice rooms at GCU spending my last hours of the semester hanging with friends listening to music.  WOW!  I can't believe this year is almost over.  Between me and summer are a few hours of sleep, several sweaty trips to the storage unit and a 14 hour car ride home.  A year ago I would never have imagined my year would turn out like this.  It is amazing how different college was for me this time around, from being able to walk quickly to class, to actually talking to people and gaining the freshmen (can I still call it that?) 15....well....20.  If this is the only good year I get with these lungs, it was worth it.  I did so many awesome things and met a ton of really cool people.

Well as usual life got in the way of writing.  I am now home.  There were indeed many sweaty trips to the storage unit but the sleep thing was more of an ideal than a reality. 

This year was, dare I say it, the best year of my life so far.  It also was the hardest goodbye I have had yet.  I know I will see all these awesome people again soon but for now we have 115 days to get through.

Although the goodbye was hard, I am glad for it because a gloomy goodbye means we had an amazingly awesome time together.  Feeling blah about going home for the summer, means I have built roots and found a new home.  It means I have made the friends and connections I have always wanted.  It means I finally got the college experience I dreamed of and for that I am extremely thankful.  I dreamed days like these would be possible but was never completely certain they would be in the cards for me, yet here I am.  

This reminds me of a saying one of my transplant friends doctors told her "transplant is a bridge, some people get right across, some get stuck in traffic but at the end of the day, we all eventually make it across."  Well I think it is safe to say I have made it across the bridge.  Not just the bridge of transplant either but the bridge of anxiety as well.  

I don't think I have talked about it much here but I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life since high school.  My biggest issue was social anxiety disorder, which is, simply put, an extreme fear of other people.  At my worst I refused to leave my dorm room to hang out with people and even mostly stopped eating because it was just too much to drag myself to the cafeteria to eat around, or possibly with other people.  I have gone through years of medication and many many hours of counseling to get me to the point I am at.  That was another bridge I didn't think could be crossed.  From my beginning perspective it looked like the bridge had fallen into the water.  However, it turned out the bridge took a few steps down but continued on and did indeed cross the river.  I know the bridge of anxiety is not over, I am nearing the end, I hope, but there are still situations that I feel the nerves well up inside and I being to shut down, but the fact that I have so many good friends that I feel mostly comfortable around shows the immense progress I have made.  Oh and did I mention I did all that without medication!

I think that all of life is a bridge really.  You never are completely over any one bridge.  The terrain may change, going form a sketchy, narrow hanging wooden bridge swinging in the wind above a 5000 foot drop, to a wide paved multi lane concrete bridge 20 feet above a slow moving river, but ultimately there will always be challenges to get across in life.  The good news is that we have people around us to travel with, and an awesome God leading the way.  That is a fact I can fix my eyes on as I go through the bridge of summer, and if this smooth bridge turns rocky again, which is inevitable, I have people and a God I can cling to!



Here is a quick summery of my year


2 year lungaversary dinner
Hiking with the roomie

Sebastian came to visit!

Volunteered with Jenna at our church's Halloween event


Yes I sometimes did homework!
Dorm event with most of my roommates
Wandering in the wilderness!  (we meant to go hiking but never found the trail)
Sunrise at the Grand Canyon!!!

Horseshoe bend
It wouldn't be college without late night food runs!


The guys photobombed this (does it count if we knew?)

College Group Selfie!


Watched The Common Thread perform at the fair!  check them out at here


Copycat pic shenanigans!