Saturday, October 17, 2009

Healthcare Reform and Obesity – The Connection

There’s still a huge debate raging over the pros and cons of President Obama’s proposed healthcare reforms. Most people are worried if healthcare as they know it will undergo a sea change (for the worse) because of the socialistic nature of this proposal. In order to ensure that every American is able to afford healthcare because it is a basic human necessity, Obama plans to fund this new venture by eliminating waste in the system, improving efficiency and cutting down the tax cuts for the superrich. But, will the healthcare reforms address preventive measures, the kind that has proven to be the best when it comes to cutting back on medical and healthcare costs? Will it tackle head on the problems of obesity, addiction and excess that plague our nation and make it one of the unhealthiest in the world (in terms of lifestyle)?

The Strategies to Overcome and Prevent Obesity Alliance, which includes the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, has urged US policymakers to address the growing pandemic of obesity as a vital part of the healthcare reforms. The statistics are not good – over two-thirds of Americans are overweight and obesity rates have doubled for adults and tripled for children in the last 30 years.

We are so addicted to high fat, high sodium and high sugar foods that we have lost sight of what is important in the long run – good health. And as a result, we are being punished with diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiac problems, strokes and obesity, all of which are inter-related with one leading to and bringing on the others. Because of this, our healthcare costs increase by as much as $150 billion every year, according to research published in an issue of the magazine Health Affairs. This figure amounts to nearly 10 percent of the entire healthcare budget.

Along with the other measures that have been taken to reduce the overall cost of healthcare and make it affordable and accessible to all Americans, perhaps the President should include campaigns against junk food, processed food and a sedentary lifestyle in his proposal. Incentives for those who are healthy and fit would probably lead to others following their example. The nation must also be warned against smoking, with frequent users of cigarettes being made to pay more for health insurance. After all, why should you use public money to fund your healthcare when you’re knowingly destroying your health?

But with fast food and tobacco lobbies too powerful, it is up to the individual to make a healthy and wise choice, one that will not only save their lives, but also their money.

This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of nurse practitioner schools . Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

Note from Ronnie: I'd like to present as many different views as I can about this debate on Health Care Reform. This particular guest post may not be specifically related to CF, but I thought it was very interesting and would like to get your thoughts on it. If you would like to chime in on this topic, please contact me and we may be able to use your commentary on this blog. Comments and questions are encouraged, I just ask that you keep them constructive and respectful. Thanks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The First Ever Post on RSR

**By the way, today is Mandi's birthday, so I sure wouldn't mind if you gave her some love in the comment section**

Some of you may remember this post from March 12th, 2009, but many of you will be reading it for the first time. I thought it could be cool to take a quick trip down memory lane. If you're a newer reader of this blog, I encourage you to take the time to read some of these older posts. It's been an amazing journey thus far, together we've raised my lung function from 65/51 (FVC/FEV1) to 80/67 and I can't thank you guys enough for that. Sure, the structure of the blog has changed over the past couple of months, but the message is the same: We DO have more control over our lung function than we often give ourselves credit for!

The First Cut is the Deepest

6am: Alarm goes off and I'm already thinking that this was a bad idea. I slept ok but every time I woke up during the night, I stayed awake for at least 5 minutes listening to the "submarine" that provides me oxygen. I hope I get use to this concentrator ASAP or the docs are going to have to come up with a new plan of action. Anyway, I role out of bed and I have a headache, I'm coughing up a bunch of mucus, and my right lung is killing me. Do I just scrap this whole thing and crawl back into bed? I thought about it. I roll downstairs to have a little bit of tylenol coffee to get rid of my headache and lace up my shoes. I'm ready for this. I start down the street and already I'm coughing my brains out. There is a trail of mucus following me marking every step that I have taken. I'm winded. I'm tired. I'm trying not to throw up. I am however dry heaving. I wasn't sure how far I was going to be able to go, but I decided to push through all the crap and just do it (that should be a slogan).Anyway, I'm in good spirits and I'm ready for this challenge. I just hope that walking my dog first thing in the morning gets easier.

Total Distance: 1.6 miles

9:30am: I was on my way to the gym when I remembered that I needed an oil change. So I went to the Honda dealership to drop off my car and from there do a run/WALK. I put walk in CAPS because I do mostly that, walk. I'm guessing that the furthest distance that I covered in a straight shot running was 100 yards. After about 1.5 miles of the run/walk my legs started to feel really dead and my back started to hurt. So, because it is the first day, I peeled back a little and walked the rest of the way back to the dealership. I will say though, my lungs still hurt pretty bad, but they felt better than this morning. I'm moving the right direction!

Total Distance: 2.3 miles

12:00pm: So I finally made it to the gym to prove to my mind that my body is weak. Let me tell you, I proved a good point. I was lifting lighter weight than when I was in 7th grade. I worked out my chest and back with various weight exercises. Everybody in the gym probably thought I was super cold because I was shaking so much trying to do the bench press. I've got a lot of work to do. Current Weight: 195 lbs.

6:00pm: Mandi and I decided to give it a go at tennis tonight. We arrived at the courts with rackets and tennis balls in hand, but there was a problem, no courts available. We made the best of it and hit balls back and forth on the basketball court. Luckily, Mandi's aim isn't the best, so I got a pretty good workout just chasing the balls around.I can tell you one thing: I cannot wait to get to bed.

Total Distance Run/Walk: 3.9 miles

I hope that walk down memory lane was as good for you as it was for me! This blog may have started as something to hold me accountable on my journey of taking my lungs back, but it became something more than that these last couple of months. I have met so many awesome people through this blog that I probably would have never met had this not started. I really think community is key when talking about Cystic Fibrosis and I'm so glad that we have a place to share our "playbooks".

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Music Video for Cystic Fibrosis Awareness- Must See!!!

-I wanted to highlight the great work that the people over at are doing for the CF community. If you've never been to their site, you're really missing out on a lot of great information. They recently completed a project that gave honor to a late singer who died from Cystic Fibrosis. His name was Matt Scales and he had written and performed a beautiful song called Breathe before his death. For this project, they brought together other singers who have Cystic Fibrosis to sing a remix of sorts to honor Matt and to bring Cystic Fibrosis awareness to another level. If you don't have the time to watch the whole video, I suggest you make time. It's VERY inspirational and VERY well done. Please follow this link to view the music video.

- AFTER you're done watching the sensational video over at, I invite you to check out one of my favorite music videos of all time. Seriously though, first go watch that music video; you'll be soooo glad that you did!

Many of you may have already seen this next music video, but if you haven't, I suggest plugging your ears....

(I apologize upfront for the episode at 3:07, my emotions got the best of me...seriously though, I wish I could sing)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blow The House Down! PFT Results Within...

Now I know that I usually give you direct workout related posts on Wednesdays, but due to some super exciting news, I'm changing it up a bit. The thing is though, that what I'm about to tell you has EVERYTHING to do with what working out has made possible.

Yesterday I had quite a busy CF day. Not only did I have a clinic appointment, but I also had my drug study appointment as well. For those of you who don't know, I am currently on the head-to-head TOBI vs. AZLI study. I was assigned TOBI, which was no big deal because I'm already on it and the only difference now is that I get paid to do it!

First was my clinic appointment. I've been feeling a little off the last couple of days and after describing my symptoms, the nurse was worried that I may have the flu (which was later dismissed by my doctor). I wasn't feeling all that confident for my PFTs (click to see video of old PFT test) but it's clinic and that's what I went there to do. I'll spare you anymore story and just get to the good news: I blew my highest FVC since 2005 and my highest FEV1 since 2007!!! My numbers were 83%/68% using the same module that I used prior to this year. When adjusted to this years module they were still 80%/67%. To see a full history of my PFT scores please click here.

The second part of this story is also quite interesting. Remember that I also had my drug study appointment later on that day. Well at the drug study appointment I also had PFTs and get this, they were 4% LOWER. In just three hours my lung function dropped 4%? No way. That tells me (at least) two things: PFTs are finicky tests that do not always produce completely accurate lung function numbers and they were also done using two different machines which can also produce different scores. I often "preach" not to put too much weight on your PFTs because of this exact reason. It's SO much more important how you feel. Chances are, if you feel great, your PFT's will reflect that. Sometimes when you feel like crud, your numbers will reflect that also. It's not always the case however, yesterday I wasn't feeling all the great and ended up having my highest numbers in YEARS.

For me, it's ultimately how you feel and if you can maintain your energy to take care of yourself. My last hospital stay my PFTs weren't down at all, but I wasn't able to exercise and run the way I wanted to. My energy and drive were zapped. But after 2 weeks in the hospital, my numbers rose just a bit and I was able to get out and start on my exercise program again. Since then, my numbers have been on the rise!

I really hope that this can serve as a source of inspiration to those of you who are just thinking about starting a running program or being more faithful with your treatments. Take a look around, there are a countless number of CFers who have shown that with a little bit of hard work and commitment you CAN make a difference in your lung function. But here's the deal, no one can do it for you. It comes down to a choice that YOU have to make for YOU....question is, are you in?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Can You Figure Out This Top Ten????

So today's top ten is a little different. Here is a list of ten _______. You need to figure out what all of these phrases have in common to be able to fill in the blank. To answer, don't actually say what it is, but leave your own _________ in the comment section.

10. Don't nod.
9. Party boobytrap.
8. A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.

7. Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna.
6. Dammit, I'm mad!
5. Ma is as selfless as I am.
4. Never odd or even.
3. No, it is open on one position.
2. Was it a car or a cat I saw?
1. Nurses run.

Hint: Ran for Vice President last year and lost + Fourth letter of the alphabet + The city not built in a day

Good luck!!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Making The Hospital Feel Like Home

Ronnie's been feeling pretty awesome lately (can I get a WOOT WOOT?). He'll probably need a tune up in a month or so, but in the mean time, he's doing great. However, we know a few people that are in the Hole right now and people that have kids in the Hole right now, so I thought I'd make a little list of things Ronnie absolutely LOVES when he's in the hospital. I'm hoping it will give the people in some ideas...

Ronnie LOVES visitors. This seems like an obvious one. No one wants to sit in a room by themselves for days on end, especially when you're not feeling good. Ronnie's family is awesome about coming and spending time with him while he's in. I think this is the biggest reason he is so content while he's in the hospital. That being said, when he's first in and his body is all out of sorts from the meds, he often feels overwhelmed by too many people around.

Ronnie also LOVES snacks and meals from the outside world. While his appetite is often a little off when he first gets in, he quickly gets it back and loves to be fed food from the outside. He'll eat just about anything we bring in, but he loves Frosties, Brachs jelly beans, Peter Piper Pizza, Dunkin Donuts, and more. (Are there any foods you love from the outside world while you're in? Give us some ideas).

He LOVES entertainment. He's found many ways to keep busy. He watches entire seasons of TV shows (he watched ALL of the seasons of Lost within a matter of days one stay), plays hidden object games, plays video games (his cousins gave him this old school wheel of fortune game which is AWESOME), listens to old radio shows online (John Jay and Rich), and reads fellow CFer's blogs (of course!).

And last, but not least, he loves to be rubbed and massaged (I really wish I had a better way of putting me, I tried to think of an alternative...Let me explain!!!). Often times his joints feel achy, so he loves when I rub his wrists, knees, ankles, hands and feet. When he has a headache, I will rub his head, including his temples, top of his head and along his sinuses. I also rub his hand, the area between his pointer finger and thumb (my mom used to do that for us when we were kids. I guess there's a pressure point there and it helps with headaches). And lastly, after he's been coughing a lot, I rub his chest. This immediately relaxes him and soothes his sore chest muscles.

When you're in the Hole, what do you need or love? Do you have any weird hospital traditions? Share your guilty pleasures or simply what makes you feel at home.