Saturday, April 18, 2009

Great Strides- Glendale

7:00am: There was no dog walk this morning because of the Great Strides Walk, so J Bell was none too happy. She had been at my door whining since six, so she definitely thought she was going to get her stroll around the block. I knew that I was going to be able to sleep in a bit today, which I tried to do, but I was in and out of sleep from 6am on. My body is now fully programmed for that six o'clock wake up time. I can't say that that has ever been the case with me. It's kinda nice though cause it feels like all of my days are longer (which of course they are) and I'm able to get in so much life throughout the day. I really wish I had started this waking up early thing years ago.Jezzabel was ready for the walk. Too bad she didn't go.

Mandi and I didn't get to the walk until about 8:30am because we of course had to stop by Dunkin Donuts. I look forward to the good ol' DD every weekend morning and I know that she does too. There were quite a few people at the walk by the time we arrived and it felt like it had an overall positive energy flowing throughout. There were people of all ages there which included a lot of high schoolers which is always nice to see. It's such a good feeling when you see young people involved in their community and giving back.

Everybody warming up for the big walk ahead.

As far as the actual walk goes, it went really well. Mandi and I kept a good pace the entire time and I worked up a pretty good sweat. The only hitch was that we got off course and kind of got lost for a bit. The actual walk is 3.1 miles long and Mandi and I guess that we did 2.5 of it. We weren't the only ones to go off track, but most people were able to figure it out. It's just a good thing that people didn't follow us cause we could have had a mob situation on our hands. One thing I learned early: Don't lead people astray on charity walks. Just trust me on that one.

Team Conner was there in full force!

I was also able to meet some other CFers and some other bloggers at the walk. One in particular was Sarah and her husband Mike. You can check out their blog by clicking here. They both had such great attitudes and Sarah is quite an inspiring story. Within months of her transplant she was running half-marathons! You got to be kidding me! Talk about taking advantage of your second chance. They were both really nice and I hope that Sarah continues to flourish with her new lungs. It was great meeting you guys!!!!

Me, Mike, Sarah (OceanDesert)

Total Distance: 2.5 miles
6:00pm: We headed to the gym tonight with the mindset of just getting in and getting out because we were both exhausted from a day in the sun and shopping. Now when I say shopping, I mean going to about 15 different stores looking for a desk. None of which I liked, or if liked, I couldn't afford. There was a TON of walking today after the Great Strides so we decided that we wouldn't do a walk/run tonight and just stick with the gym. We both did chest and back and really treated it as a cardio workout as well. We took very short breaks and were both sweating pretty heavily towards the end. It gave my lungs a good work out too because I decided to go really heavy on every lift with fewer reps. My muscles were requiring a lot of oxygen tonight and the only way they were going to get it was with deep breaths. Overall, it was a very good workout, but I'm looking forward to just relaxing tonight. Current Weight: 190 lbs.

Total Distance Walked for Day: 2.5 miles

Friday, April 17, 2009

Random Picture of the Day

Picture: Mandi and I at a Miami Vice themed CF Fundraiser.

Upper Thigh Surgery

6:00am: So if I didn't know any better, I would bet you that the fairy surgeon came into my room last night and tried to operate on my upper thigh. It felt like I had 6 inch long incision wounds that had just recently been closed up, and unfortunately for me, I had no pain meds. I think this is all a residual effect from my sprints a couple of days ago. In fact, I would be willing to bet it is cause Mandi said that she is feeling the same pain in the same spot. The sprints felt awesome at the time, I just had no idea how I would pay for them later. Well, now I know, and lucky for my lungs, I don't care. I just have to suck it up and keep pushing.

My lungs felt a bit junky this morning and it is probably because my routine got thrown off yesterday. It's so important to keep up with whatever exercise routine you decide to do. I can tell when I have neglected to do all of my exercises on a previous day, and believe me, I don't feel as well as when I really stick to it. I was coughing up a lot more junk this morning than I have for the last week or so, and it was darker in color. I just think it is so so so so so important to stay on top of getting that mucus out of your lungs. As you've probably read before, I think that is what it is all about. It all starts with our stupid mucus. Remove the mucus and you remove most of our problems. Easier to breath, less infection, less irritation, less swelling, and the list goes on....bottom line: DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET THE MUCUS MOVING AND OUT OF YOUR LUNGS. Sorry for yelling, just got a bit excited.

Total Distance: 2.1 miles Time: 36'54"

1:30 pm: So of course today was leg (and shoulder) day at the gym, the day that my thighs feel like they were under the knife. I will say though, it didn't go as bad as I thought it might. My legs were definitely sore, but nothing that I couldn't push through and manage. I actually ended up increasing the weight by quite a bit on every leg lift I did and just decreasing the reps. That way, I didn't have to feel the pain for that long. I still got a great pump and really worked my legs hard.

My shoulders felt better today than they have for a long long time. They were much stronger today too. Maybe over the course of these last 6 weeks I've been able to strengthen the tendons and ligaments there in my shoulder. Just a thought. I hope I can continue to lift them hard cause I certainly don't want a "good sized" chest and arms and then be rocking little birdie shoulders. We'll have to see. I'll post an update picture soon so you guys can see if there is any noticeable difference between 6 weeks ago and now with regards to my body. If you want to actually call what I have a "body". Current Weight: 190 lbs.

5:45pm: Mandi and set out on our 3 mile walk knowing that we would not be running any of it. Well, at least I did. My legs still feel like they're tore from the upper half of my body and my left foot started acting up again today. I may try taking out my insole on that side and seeing if it makes a difference. It may just be that I lifted on my calves today and sometimes that stretches out my arches and makes them sore. We'll have to see how it is tomorrow. I really hope it's better for the Glendale walk cause I really don't want to be hobbling around.

I was able to get a up a decent amount of stuff on our walk tonight that was either light yellow or clear in color. Overall, my lungs are feeling pretty good, but I know that I have to start doing more physically straining activities to really make them work.

Total Distance: 2.1 miles Time: 54'27"

Total Distance Walked for Day: 4.2 miles

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Random Picture of the Day

Picture: This is the best Heisman Trophy pose I got...unfortunately, I finished 4,623rd in the year I was eligible to win it.

My Colorful Mucus

7:00am: I slept in a little bit cause I got to be later than normal last night. I slept like an absolute rock, but I kept on waking up with numb hands. I think it was from sleeping on my sides and crushing my shoulders to cut off the circulation. It used to happen to me all of the time when I was active in the gym, so apparently I'm doing something right! I coughed up quite a bit of mucus this morning which I think was a result of my sprints yesterday. To me, it looked like, and felt like, mucus that was way deep down in there and has been waiting to come out. Some of it was green, some yellow, some clear, and some even a little pinkish\rose in color. I haven't coughed up any blood since I was in the hospital so I'm thinking it's old or I had just a little slight tear in my lung yesterday.

On my walk this morning, Mandi and did a little longer of a loop than usual. It was very nice and brisk out so it felt good to get moving and get warmed up! J Bell has been doing a good job lately on the walks and is learning that she can't "mark her territory" every 20 yards. I do have to remind her once in a while with a little tug, but she is definitely improving. I was still coughing quite a bit of stuff up during the walk, but my lungs felt pretty open and I wasn't getting very short of breath. I think that I am continuing to improve everyday and I look forward to all of this hard work paying off...and in a lot of respects, it already has!

Total Miles: 2.3 Time: 41'33"

So the rest of the day really got away from me so I wasn't able to get in my workout or run/walk. I know, tisk tisk on me. I did however have a very productive day in other aspects of my life, some of which I'll be sharing with you guys very soon.

I'll get back on track tomorrow...promise.

Total Distance Walked for Day: 2.3 miles

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Random Picture of the Day

Picture: This store front window in St. Augustine Beach, FL says "For Scenic View, Place Nose Here"...and so I did.

Ahhhh, Push It!

6:00am: I was super sleepy this morning and tried to convince myself to sleep in. It didn't happen. I was up later last night than usual due to the CF event and the fact that I had to get my American Idol fix when I got home. I did sleep like a rock, but it still felt like I didn't get enough when my alarm went off bright and early. My legs and feet were sore from the run yesterday, but, on the bright side, I didn't have a huge mucus ball come out of my lungs first thing this morning. Which I guess you wouldn't always know if it's a good or bad thing, but I'm taking it as good. That's because during my walk, my mucus was clear from the beginning and my lungs felt pretty open. I'm thinking that it was some lasting benefits from the run I did at the gym.

I plan on running to the gym later on today and I'm just hoping that my feet and shins hold up. I know that the more I run the better I will feel and I'm interested in how big of a snowball effect I can have if I run at least a little bit every day. Mandi would really like me to try and run .6 miles straight for like three days in a row. To me it sounds super duper painful, but I know that I will have to push myself to get the results that I want and accomplish my goals. Just like Salt n' Pepper say, "Ahhhh, push it! Push it real good!" (I just don't know what results they were talking about "pushing it" for).

Total Distance: 2.1 miles Time: 37' 00"

Side Note: I forgot to add in what my oxygen saturation was at my clinic appointment the other day. It was 96% on room air. I'm generally used to 97-98% but I know that I got knocked back a little from this last infection. I obviously have more work to do, and I'm hoping to get my SATs up for my next clinic visit.

11:30am: I had a good day at the gym today and felt pretty strong. Not as strong as a couple of days ago, but I was able to get in a good workout. Today I did arms and abs. Let me just come right out and say it, ABS SUCK. I'm not even so sure I could ever get a six-pack and I'm almost positive that I wouldn't be willing to put in the work and diet necessary. Right now I have a one pack that is being propped up by a mesh I got inserted into my abdomen years back as a result of too many hernias. I'll keep on working though and maybe, just maybe I'll work my way up to a two pack. Current Weight: 189 lbs.

6:00pm: Mandi and I decided to switch things up a bit tonight and just do some sprints mixed in with some light jogging. We walked to a nearby school to do our workout on the grass, but the ground ended up being too uneven to safely sprint on. I could see me blowing out an ankle because I run over a gopher hole or something. That would not be very awesome. We ended up doing our "run" in the school parking lot.

We marked off 40 yards for our sprints and then stretched to loosen up a bit. After a 40 yard sprint at full speed, we would walk 80 yards so that I could catch my breath. Well, we did that pattern for the first 8 sprints, and then, of course, my lady changed it up to make it harder. For sprints 9 and 10 there was no rest. We sprinted number 9 and then jogged 80 yards into a direct sprint into number 10. After number 10, we took no rest and jogged back home. To say I was winded would be an understatement. I was beyond winded. My jog turned into a fast looking jog-walk at the end and felt at points like I was going to collapse. I'm glad I pushed through it and it definitely paid off. I was coughing up crap that was way down in there and when I finally caught my breath, my lungs felt wonderful. They were super wide open. I was taking in breaths deeper after my sprints than I have at any point in this last month. We'll just have to see if I can move my legs tomorrow!

Total Distance: .75 miles

Total Distance Run/Walk for Day: 2.85 miles

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Random Picture of the Day

Picture: That is me singing "Baby Got Back" at some hole in the wall karaoke bar by Lake Roosevelt. The locals loved every minute of it...I think.

Dead Legs

6:00am: My legs were absolute toast this morning! And in case you're wondering, that's a bad thing. I mean, I love me some toast, don't get me wrong, but in this case, not so much! I had about 75% less sensation in my legs when I woke this morning compared to the rest of my body. How do I know it was 75% less you ask? I ask you, "What's your favorite color?".

Sorry, I was just trying to distract you cause I have no idea how I came up with the 75% number. Anyway, just know that I was extremely tired and dead-legged this morning and the prospect of walking wasn't firing me up in any way, shape, or form. I finally convinced myself that it would be better for all of humanity if I got up and wobbled over to the sick to clear out my airbags. Same ol' same ol' there, thick, dark, and a lovely taste.

I actually brought up a lot more stuff than usual this morning on the walk. It was clear for the most part, which was good, it just seemed like it wouldn't ever stop coming up. It didn't help that my nose was full of junk either. I basically coughed or snorted the whole 2.1 miles and if I had to throw another number out it would be 1. I think I coughed and blew about 1 pound of mucus or snot out of my body so far today. How do I know it was 1 pound you ask? Just kidding.

The pace was good this morning and the weather could not have been better. I'd guess that it was about 65 degrees out without a cloud in the sky. The sun was shining bright yet there was a cool breeze. I'm so fortunate to have this weather in AZ. It definitely puts me in the best position to take care of myself. I can't use a crummy day as an excuse not to get my workouts in....ok, ok, maybe 5 days a year I can!

Total Distance: 2.1 miles Time: 36'02"

12:00pm: I went off to the gym today to work my chest and back. I felt pretty strong and I was able to increase the weight or reps for almost every lift. I'm still doing 4 lifts for chest and 4 lifts for back. The only thing that I've added recently is doing one of those 4 lifts at a heavy weight and less reps. For chest I do bench at a heavier weight and do 3 sets of 5 reps, and for back I do upright row 3 sets of 5 reps. I've been doing this type of routine for 2 weeks now and I've been able to increase the weight on the lift every time.

After lifting, I needed to get my run/walk in because I'll be going to a CFF event tonight that starts at 6. Mandi and I wouldn't have time to get our run/walk in after she gets off from work. When I stepped on the treadmill I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I warmed up for about two minutes and then increased the speed so I could get into a run. I ended up running .4 miles straight before I had a little coughing fit and lost my air. I'm sure people in the gym thought I was infected with Bird Flu or something. The guy next to me kept on looking over with fear in his eyes. Oh well, just another day in the life. Anyway, after running the .4, I decided that I would walk for a bit and then do .3 straight. I did .3 at a higher speed than I did .4 and then I took another walking break. After catching my wind I decided to do .2 with the plan on doing .1 to finish. I did .2 at the highest speed yet, but with about .05 miles left I felt a bad burning sensation in my left shin and ankle. I pushed through it to finish the .2, but I was in some pain. Needless to say, I didn't end up doing .1 to finish and just walked to the nearest "even" number.

I ended up doing a total of 1.6 miles which I am very happy about cause I ran .9 of them. I can't really bend my left foot down without any pain, but I'm hoping some ice and rest will take care of that. I sweat today more than I have sweat at any time during the past 6 weeks. When I hopped off of the treadmill my lungs felt extremely open and overall I felt fresh. I will need to work the treadmill into my routine more often. Current Weight: 187 lbs.

Total Distance: 1.6 miles Time: 22'36"

Total Distance Run/Walked for Day: 3.7 miles

Cystic Fibrosis Doesn't Define Me

I’m a brother. I’m a friend. I’m a music-lover. I’m a son. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a boyfriend. I’m a nephew. I’m a grandson. I’m a gym rat. I’m a Christian. I’m a CFer. CF is merely one facet of who I am; one piece of the Ronnie Sharpe puzzle. CF does not define me.

Too many people with CF let it consume them. They become labeled as a CFer and lose their identity to the disease. Due to the totality the disease’s effects on the body, it is easy for people to let it become the entirety of their being. A CFer is pegged as a sick, weak, dependent individual. A CF life was supposed to be short, depressing, and difficult. That was not who I wanted to be. That was not life I was going to live.

My mom molded my outlook from a young age through the way she defined me in her own mind. It was never, “This is my son Ronnie and he has Cystic Fibrosis”. It was, “This is my son Ronnie”. She left the rest up to me.

Throughout my childhood, it was her perspective and my conscious decision to “redefine” myself that aided me to become the robust individual I am today. I knew the way I would be defined by others, started with how I defined myself. It was a mental game, and I was ready to play.

I didn’t allow my mind to be plagued with thoughts about CF. Of course, CF crossed my mind when I was doing treatments or in the hospital, but I learned at a young age that sitting around, wallowing "in my own mucus" wasn’t beneficial and wouldn’t change my circumstances. With a non-CF focused mindset, my life became mine, not my diseases. A mind that was mine, full of thoughts about all that life is filled with, was a healthy mind. Switching my mindset enabled me to worry about relationships and activities that mattered. I worried about how I treated my family, or how I interacted with strangers. I focused on how I could be a better friend, or how I should treat my girlfriends. I preoccupied my mental space with aspects of life that mattered.

With a mind filled with an assortment of life’s realities, I was able to enjoy all that life had to offer. My life became filled with friends, family, sports, school, business, and faith; in addition to CF. I began to fit CF into my daily life, instead of scheduling my life around CF. I’d squeeze my treatments in between football practice and dinner with my friends. I’d go into the hospital when I had a break from school, and before a family vacation.

CF is only one part of my thoughts, my life, my being. I may have CF, but CF doesn't have me.

20.95 Total Miles for the Week of April 6th, 2009

Week of March 30th: 31.7 miles
Week of March 23rd: 24.48 miles
Week of March 16th: 34.85 miles
Week of March 9th: 23.6 miles

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Big Day

7:15am: So today's the big day! I should be blowing into that PFT machine about 3 hours from now. The last PFT's I blew were an FVC of 65% and an FEV1 of 51%. They were lowest PFT's ever when being released from the hospital. They were lower by quite a bit in fact. To be honest with you, I'm not expecting to blow the lid off of the machine today. Don't get me wrong, it'd be nice, but I want to be realistic about this. I've only been out of the Big House for about a month, and although I've been working hard, I know that sometimes the lungs take a while to respond. I also know that whether I have a good or bad test today, I need to work even harder over the next month to continue to improve my lung function.

I woke up with a little bit of a headache this morning. I forgot to wear my o2 last night, but I don't think that was entirely it. I went to bed with a slight headache that I think came from all of the activity yesterday. I was running around like a mad man with the little cousins and I only ate lunch until late last night. So I'm hoping that the dull head pain was from all of that and not a lack of oxygen.

The walk went well this morning. I was moving quite a bit up and almost all of it was clear. At the very beginning, I felt my late dinner (two bowls of frosted mini wheats) coming up and I had to take a quick break to make sure it stayed down in my tummy. After my stomach settled, I was on my way. My lungs felt pretty good, but my legs and feet were sore from all of the running around yesterday. I couldn't believe how sore the lower half of my body was when I woke up. Luckily, I was able to work out most of the pain on my walk. Alright, now I need to get something for breakfast and prepare for these lung tests!

Total Distance: 2.1 miles Time: 36'45"

7:30pm: I finally made it to the gym tonight after my busy day with clinic and family. Mandi and I thought about going out to celebrate the new numbers, but decided to get our lift on instead. Actually, I told Mandi that we couldn't do any celebrating cause I'm no where near where I want to be. I said that we can celebrate when I get up to running a mile straight, but I haven't figured out when to celebrate about my lung functions. It's hard to know exactly where my ceiling is. I just know that wherever it is, is where I want to be. Maybe I'll have a little mini celebration if (when) I get to my old baseline of 80/70. I really think with the numbers from today that I can go above and beyond that though. I'm really excited about what the future holds in regards to my lung function and I just need to make sure that I keep this up! Current Weight: 189 lbs

Total Distance Walked for Day: 2.1 miles

PFT's as of 4/13/09 (Improvement within!!!!!)

Well I had my clinic appointment this morning at 10am. To say I was a bit nervous would be completely accurate. Not only did I want to perform well for myself and my family, but I also wanted to perform well for you guys out there that read this blog. I wanted to show everybody that hard work can pay off and it is up to each and every one of us to grab the bull by the horns and take control of this disease.

So I bet you want to know how I did huh? Just a little history for a moment...When I went into the hospital on January 18th I was too sick to even take lung tests. About 10 days later I took the PFT's and I blew a record worse FVC of 49% and a FEV1 of 31%. By the time I was released from the hospital (50 days later!) I was blowing a FVC of 64% and a FEV1 of 51%.

My numbers today were.....(drum roll).....a FVC of 77% and a FEV1 of 61%! These numbers are actually slightly better than when I got out of the hospital in September (hospital stay before last)! Now these numbers still aren't where I want them to be and I'm going to continue to do everything I can to improve them. I've been feeling great since exercising and increasing my treatments and I'm just glad that my lung function reflects that.

I promise though that this is not the top. I will improve upon those numbers and I plan on increasing my 2 year running baseline of 80%/70%. This isn't an option for me. I said that I will do it, and God willing, I will.

Thank you everyone for your support.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!!!

7:30am: Today is definitely going to be a little different due to the Easter holiday. This morning, Mandi and I took J Bell for a quick walk just so she could do her business...Jezzabel, not Mandi. We wanted to run to Dunkin Donuts and enjoy the morning together, so we weren't able to go for a long walk. I'm hoping to take plenty of pictures during the day and post them for you guys later on. I love any holiday cause it means mucho family time and usually a board game or three.
As far as the lungs go...I was more crappy this morning than most. I didn't sleep very well and I found myself coughing a little bit throughout the night. I moved a ton of stuff up and out when I first woke up and also during the short walk this morning. It was clear for the most part or that kind of milky white color...fat free milk color to be exact. Hopefully I'll be able to get in a good long walk later on today and move more of this garbage out.

8:30pm: Well, I never did get a run/walk in today. I was too busy chasing around my little cousins and the 300 dogs that were at my aunts house. We played kick the can, freeze tag, duck duck goose, and a catch a ball falling off of the roof game. I was winded most of the time to say the least. I wasn't on my normal routine today, but I definitely got to breathing hard and expanding my lungs. Tomorrow is the big day! I have my PFT's at 10am....keep those fingers crossed.
Pictures from the day...
This is the family getting ready to eat Easter lunch.

Top: This is a bird's eye view of our dessert that we brought. It's called a dirt cup. Ground up oreos with chocolate pudding and gummy worms. We added the flowers to really spice it up!

Right: You can see the "worms" crawling out some of the "pots"

Pictures: Noah, Levi, and Ella all enjoying their dirt cups!

Left: No Easter would be complete without the Easter Egg hunt.
Bottom: Took them a little while to find the orange egg right in front of them

Side Note: What a great day with family this was!!!! I am exhausted and ready to hit the sack. I thank God for my wonderful family and of course His Resurrection on this joyous day!