Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Failure: How Do YOU Define it?

A man may fall many times, but he won't be a failure until he says that someone pushed him.

So I went skiing yesterday for the first time since, oh let's see, ever. Let's just say that I'm not a natural born skier. Being raised my entire life in Arizona, snow and I have never been able to really get to know each other on any sort of level. I've seen him on TV and read about him from time to time, but only met him face-to-face less than 10 times. During my other meetings I've only thrown him, walked on him, slid down him and once tried to board on him.

FLASHBACK: It was January of the year 2000 and I was on some big ol' mountain outside of Seattle. My buddies were really into snowboarding and wanted to hit the slopes. Being that I didn't want to be left behind and I'm decently athletic, I joined them. We started on the bunny hills as I tried to successfully slide for 20 feet without falling down. Not sure if I ever accomplished my goal, but I do know that I got very bored of the bunny slope and decided to do whatever slope they were on. As we got off the lift and I stared down the mountain, I knew in the back of my mind that I would be in trouble. Nevertheless, I went for it and tried to cut back and forth as much as I could. After going about 100 yards and falling who knows how many times, while watching it seemed like 100 6 year olds whiz by me, I got admittedly frustrated and decided I was done cutting back and forth. I (stupidly) decided to go full speed ahead and get to the bottom of the mountain as quick as possible. Not good. I was humming along with a clear path ahead of me when all of the sudden, a group of those 6 year olds decided to have a pow wow right in path down the hill. I didn't know how to properly stop and I didn't want to be responsible for taking out a group of kids, so I bailed. As I was going end over end down the slope all I could think about was taking them out despite my best efforts. Fortunately I came to a halt about 10 yards before I hit them. I was laying there, dazed and confused when I man in a bright orange jacket came skiing up to me, " Dude, are you ok?" he asked. "Uhh, I think so" I replied. "Cool, that was awesome!!!" he seemed to shout with excitement. I happened to think it was the opposite of awesome. I clicked off my board and walked up the hill approximately 40 yards to grab my beanie which had been flung off my head. It was easy to find since I was able to not only track the big divots of snow, but also the blood that had come from my nose. After I grabbed my beanie, down the mountain I walked, feeling like a pretty big failure. On the bright side, I was able to watch the entire Rose Bowl while sipping on some coffee in the lodge.

Ok, so back to my experience yesterday. Being told that skiing is easier than snow boarding, we decided that I could just learn on the fly. We got off the lift and picked the easiest way down. My first attempt to go down the mountain resulted in me stopping 5 yards short of a tree, in powder 4 feet deep and Mandi having to fish my right ski out of the snow. Then after many more failed attempts, a ski patrol came over to us and "suggested" we go to the training slope first while eluding to the fact that I could be a danger to the rest of the people on the mountain. By this point I was already pretty exhausted (man the air is thin up here), so I clicked off the skis and waited for Eric (father-in-law) to meet up with us so he could give me some lessons. My issue was three fold: I couldn't stop, when I tried to stop I veered off to the right and I felt out of control the entire time.

After a quick break, we went to the training hill and after many rides up the "magic carpet", I really got the hang of stopping, turning, cutting and all of that other stuff. We then took a lift to a higher portion of the training hill and I was able to make my way down the entire slope without any falls and feeling mostly in control the entire time. I was pretty confident I could take another crack at going down the easiest hill again. Wrong. I did alright the first 200 yards or so. But as it seemed to get steeper and steeper, I felt less and less in control. I started falling almost every 20 yards and then it got to the point where my legs felt like jelly. Not only that, but I felt so wiped, that I feared I had lost the ability to protect myself. After a fall on my right side that knocked the air out of me, I was done. I clicked my skis off a started my way down the hill. I had nothing left. Frustrated. Discouraged. Sore. Out of breath. Embarrassed. Pissed. Tired. And I'm sure a dozen of other feelings overtook my body. I had great support in my wife and in-laws, but nothing they could say would make it better. I failed.

But, as always, there's a lesson in this. I'm sitting here, doing my treatments and LOOKING FORWARD to getting back on those slopes. I told them yesterday that I was no where near done, just done for that day. My only goal today is to be the best darn skier the world has ever known...on the training slope. I seriously want to master that sucker. I don't care if I do nothing else this entire trip. If all of those little 6 year olds can do it, then certainly, so can I! Failure doesn't happen when you set out to meet a goal and come short, failure happens when you give up. And like the quote says that started this blog out, it really happens when we start to blame everybody else but the person in the mirror. I know I can do it. It's just a matter of putting those skis back on and going for it. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!!

I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Now go sip some hot chocolate, open up a present and hug someone that you love.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nothing Says Merry Christmas Like Chocolate Chip Cookie Ovaries

As promised in yesterday's blog, we're going to give the backstory on my "chocolate chip cookie ovaries". But we'll do you one better and give you a full update on where we currently are in our IVF process.

-We met for the initial consult with the IVF doc, which we already posted about, so I'll jump to the next step.
-We attended a 3 hour class at our IVF doctor's office (which, by the way, is called Arizona Center for Fertility Studies). During this class they gave us a complete overview of the process, medications, costs, etc. It was jammed-packed full of information, but it left me feeling a little overwhelmed, nervous, and as if I was going to forget something.
-We ordered my "stimulating" drug (which will help me to have a ton of eggs), HMG, from England, online (the website was suggested by our doc). It was really easy to do. The doc faxes a script; you order the meds; they ship them within a few weeks; and you pay 1/5 what you'd pay in the US.
-We picked up my "suppression" med, Lupron, from a specialty pharmacy. Lupron will trick my body into thinking it's going through menopause, so it will have a "rest" period before they stimulate my ovaries with the HMG. This "break" and then "flare" will help get the most eggs possible. I will be on Lupron for about a month.
-On "Day 2" of my cycle (Wednesday), we went to the doctor's office for a transvaginal ultrasound, in which they check out how your uterus and ovaries look. This is where the chocolate chip cookies come in. Turns out, on an ultrasound your ovaries look like little chocolate chip cookies when they're full of eggs, since they have a bunch of dark chips (or eggs) that you can see. We got some exciting news that it looks like I have a lot of eggs - she counted 16 in one ovary alone, so she's guessing I have over 30 total. These will be the eggs that will hopefully mature and be used this cycle. We were excited to hear that everything looked good on this exam, as it was the first test actually checking out my reproductive health.
-On "Day 3" of my cycle (yesterday), we went to my new OB-GYN to get acquainted and to have a slew of blood work ordered (they test for everything from HIV to Rubella to hormone levels!). He did a quick physical exam also and all checked out. He said, "they should have you pregnant in no time. You'll be an easy one." I have to tell you, those words made me happier than if he had told me I was the pretty woman he had ever seen!! I was psyched to hear a doctor say what I was hoping. Although, I need to manage my expectations, you never know!
-After that OB-GYN appointment, we headed to a lab for them to draw my blood for all my blood work that was ordered. You know how labs are, we sat there waiting for 45 minutes, and once they called me back, it took all of 2 minutes and I was out of there. We expect to here the results from all the blood work sometime next week.
-Right after the Lab (literally...we were in the car) Ronnie gave me my first Lupron injection. The thought of Ronnie sticking me with a needle worried me, but he was a pro. He said, "take a deep breath, exhale..." and boom, he stuck me and it was over. It is the world's tiniest needle! The injection site itched like a son of a gun for about 7 minutes, was red for about 20 and then everything was back to normal. Pretty cool! I'll be doing Lupron injections once a day (in the morning around 9:30 AM) from yesterday until January 28th.

And that brings us to today! All in all I am very excited that we have officially started the cycle and I'm excited to get the last few diagnostic tests out of the way for me (they have a few more things they have to do to verify the prediction that I don't have any reproductive issues) - more on that as they come in the next few weeks. Please feel free to ask any questions you have...we're open books!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Chocolate Chip Ovaries

We can't stress enough how important it is in our own lives to slow down when things seem to be getting "fast" and just think about the little things that we're thankful for. Many of you expressed a similar sentiment last week as 11 people joined forces with us and blogged about their own thankfulness. I have a little "Linky Tools" at the end of this post that you can use to join the party and link up your thankfulness post! Feel free to spread this around to anyone you know that may like to participate.

We all have GREAT things going on in our lives and sometimes it's just a matter of sitting down and putting it to paper before we realize how good we really have it.

Mandi's List:

I’m thankful for family and family time. My dad got into town yesterday afternoon. To say I’m a daddy’s girl is a bit of an understatement, so it was fantastic to get to see him! We were able to spend time as a family (me, Ronnie, my parents, my brother and sister-in-law). My mom cooked a wonderful meal and we all sat around enjoying each other….and best of all, ripping on each other. There’s nothing like knowing people so well that you know just how to poke fun at each other!

I’m thankful for fun doctor’s offices. We’ve been into the baby makin’ doc’s office quite a bit these last few weeks, and I tell you what, they sure make it fun. Typically doctor’s appointments and being poked and prodded isn’t fun, but the folks at our office are fun…I actually enjoy being there!

I’m thankful for Costco and Sams club. No where else in the world can you buy food in such large quantities! Something about gallon tubs of BBQ sauce, 5 lb boxes of candy and 100 toilet paper rolls per package is exciting. They seen to have everything there, and man am I so thankful to have access to food. Not only the necessities, but the stuff you don’t need and just want really bad (like a bucket of peppermint bark).

Ronnie's List:

I’m thankful that Mandi’s ovaries look like chocolate chip cookies. We went to the doctor today and had an ultrasound done, and on one ovary alone there were about 16 eggs, which is apparently a good thing (more on that tomorrow).

I’m thankful for our yard. Growing up in Arizona, I was often around gravel, zero-skapes and cactus so I never got to experience the change in seasons. Although it’s certainly a little late, we had fall this year in our back yard, as it was covered with orange leaves.

I’m thankful that Mandi’s dad is in town. We’ve already knocked out project number one: getting the sling box in good working order. I look forward to spending some quality time with him since I don’t see him too often (turns out China is really far away).

Rondi's List:

We are so thankful for Christmas. This time of year has such an incredible feeling! Not only is it a time to spend with friends and family, but it’s a time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior! We’re so thankful that God sent his son! T minus 2 days til Christmas – YIPPEE!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rondi's Recipes: The Hamburger Cake

For our cousin bake-off on Thanksgiving, Mandi and I decided to make a hamburger cake. It turned out well...if by well you mean looked awesome but not tasting great :)

The ingredients.

Any vanilla cake and brownie mix will do.

The set-up.

The cakes.

The destruction.

Fondant burger toppings.

That seriously looks like a piece of meat.

Rockin' and Rollin'.

That's one good looking burger.

Serve with french fries (sugar cookies).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why don't you do clinical drug trials?

I know I've talked about it before on RSBR, but I just have to talk about it again: Clinical Drug Trials.

Today was my first visit for the new trial that I'm on which will be studying the effectiveness of inhaled Levaquin. I'm super excited for this one, because last year I did an inhaled Cipro study and Levaquin is the "cousin" of Cipro. Why am I excited? Because, and this is "off the record" and completely my opinion, I felt like a million bucks and my lung function increased (mind you, I very well could have been on placebo...doubt it.) Anyway, I'm hoping to have the same great experience with this inhaled antibiotic and I figure if I don't, somebody else is, so it's a win-win in my mind!

I thought I'd list a few reasons you should be doing clinical drug trials:

If not you, then who? If you're one of those peeps who champions a "cure" and does not actively search out drug trials, then let me be frank, you're talking out both sides of your mouth. We will never have a cure without clinical trials. And more immediate, we'll never have better medicines to help control the symptoms. So no more cure talk if you're not willing to put your money where your mouth is.

Speaking of money, you get paid. It's almost too good to be true. You can get paid to do medicines that can potentially increase your lung function? Yes. At the very worst, you get cash money to puff on some saline or pop a sugar pill. This is easy money if there ever was some.

You learn more about CF. Now maybe I've just been blessed with a great research coordinator or maybe she's just wicked smart, but I've learned so much about how drugs work and the anatomy of CF. And to be honest with you, the more you learn about CF, the more you realize that we have a lot more control over this thing than we give ourselves credit for.

You're taking control of your health. Doing a clinical drug trial is just another way of taking control of your health. It's another way of being active and not settling for "the cure" to come to you (when I speak of "a cure", I'm not speaking of our genes being corrected and our cells working properly, I speaking about us being our own darn cure by what choices we make in our lives). It's up to each and every one of us do to everything possible to put ourselves in the best position to succeed.

I could go on and on about the reasons you should be doing a clinical drug trial, but I'll step off the soapbox and save you from my diatribe. On a serious note though, get involved!! Stop thinking about all of the reasons you won't do one, and just do it all ready. That is, unless you can come up with a reason that doesn't sound like a total lame-o excuse, which I am more than willing to listen to.

Which leads me to my next question, why don't you do clinical drug trials?

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Favorite Things: Christmas Edition

Each year, Oprah has an AWESOME episode in which she lists her favorite things for the year, and people in the audience get all the stuff she talks about. This post won't be that awesome, and I won't be giving everyone the stuff I'm talking about...but I would recommend you incorporate some of this stuff into your week this week as you get ready for Christmas.

I am VERY excited for Christmas. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very chilly in AZ (it's in the 70s during the day), so we have to do things to help make it feel cozy and Christmassy! Some are things I've grown up with my whole life, some are new additions to the Christmas line-up.

Christmas-Scents - I have been doing everything I can to make our house smell like "Christmas". I have a few Cinnamon Spice candles I have been burning, but I have a new concoction that my mom showed me. You put water, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and oranges in a pot on the stove, and let it simmer on the stovetop. This was the toned-down version, that she showed me how to make, with stuff I already had, but the real deal uses apple juice instead of water, and also uses apples, cloves, and pine as all. I'm planning to pick up some of that in the next few days so the house can smell even yummier.

Christmas Movies - If there is a Christmas movie on TV, I HAVE to watch it. There is nothing better than watching a Christmas movie with come hot chocolate and cookies! This year I've watched a lot of no name movies (that I have never seen before) and classics like Home Alone. The movie I haven't watched yet, but I will not allow Christmas to come and go without seeing it is Elf. So that is on my to do list this week!

Hot Chocolate - This is a Christmas must-have. We always had hot chocolate as kids, after playing in the snow. We'd sip some hot chocolate and dip a candy cane in it - we'd even add whipped cream on a really good day! Ronnie's mom has spiced up the tradition as she made us home made chocolate goodness to make our hot chocolate out of. You can find the recipe here. It tastes like heaven in a mug...I can't get enough.

Family Time - This is a bit of a no brainer, but family in town makes it start to feel like the holidays. With my mom in town already, and my dad getting here in Wednesday (I CAN'T WAIT) it really feels like Christmas is close. I love having my folks in town and spending time together as a family. I can't wait for Wednesday when the whole family is finally together, and we're kicking things off with a family dinner.

Cookies - Ahhh Christmas cookies. What is Christmas without cookies? This year I made me favorite Christmas cookies for the first time. These cookies always show up at cookie exchanges and holiday parties, but I've never made them myself. This weekend, with my momma, I made them, and they were just as good as I remember. "What cookies??" you ask. Peanut Blossom cookies. These are the ones we made!

Christmas Music - I love me some Christmas music. I of course like the classics, but I have one all time favorite, and that is Amy Grant's Christmas album. As long as I remember, Amy Grant was the soundtrack to my family's Christmas's and I associate such feelings of warmth and joy with her songs. If you don't own Amy Grant's Christmas album, I recommend you buy it!

Ugly Christmas Sweaters - I'm sure many of you have heard of ugly sweater parties. I was reminded of their goodness this weekend at our neighbor's ugly sweater party. But what I really was reminded of, is the awesomeness of tacky Christmas sweaters. The sweatshirt I bought for the party I'd actually consider wearing again this week!

Well that's it! I hope this week brings a lot of excitement, joy, and Christmas spirit! It is truly the most wonderful time of the year. What are some of your favorite things that you'll be incorporating into your week as you gear up for the big day?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Classic Scare

I forgot at the time that my aunt had just had some complications with her heart...whoops.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Creating a Family: Thoughts on Our Options and a Question

So I know that it's been baby central around RSBR lately...It will let up! But before it does, I wanted to post the post I promised I'd post (say that 10 times fast): our thoughts on our options.

First things first, the appointment Tuesday went well. Shockingly well actually. He made it sound like getting me (a 24 year old) preggers was a no brainer. He obviously said we have to first rule out any possibility of me having infertility issues, but he sounds like if there are no issues, we should have pretty good chances. This was music to my ears. I know there is still the chance that we do a few rounds and it doesn't work, but he seems to think if that's the case, then we need to reassess because there's something there we're missing.

I'm excited. I'm excited, and I'll tell you why. To me, the best of our options, the option that I like the most, is being able to conceive a child that is created from Ronnie's DNA and mine. I have spent many hours asking myself why this is; trying to pinpoint my reasoning behind this being my preferred option. And here's what I've concluded: There are two big reasons, but I'm not sure which is the main reason. The first reason is that I want to carry a child. While terrified by the what pregnancy can do to some people's bodies, minds, emotions, etc, I have always dreamed of being pregnant. Most people just played house with babies. I played house "pregnant", "delivered the baby", "brought it home from the hospital"...you get the point. The second reason is that part of me wants to look at my kid's face and see Ronnie. I don't know how to explain that better than that. And I know this one is flawed, as Ronnie keeps reminding me, even if it's biologically his, it very well may not look anything like him. But it's still part of my reasoning, so there you go. To me, this seems like the option you try first.

All that being said, there are a TON of other options. For us, the next options to look at are adoption, fostering to adopt and adopting embryos. Here's the dealio on these options: they're really good options that I am actually excited about. First, adoption and fostering to adopt. While I want to carry our child really badly, I think after holding my adopted/fostered baby in my arms, the pregnancy wouldn't matter, the genes wouldn't matter, nothing. You could hand me a child tomorrow and I would not love it any differently than a child I carried for 9 months with my genes in it. So while I really want to carry our child, if that's not in the cards for us, we'll regroup and look at adoption/fostering to adopt. Also, we have talked about fostering regardless of if IVF works or not. We would love nothing more than having a few biological kids, and then fostering and potentially adopting a few children (no, we we're not picturing a Cheaper By the Dozen or a 18 Kids and Counting deal). We have watched the foster care process with our cousins, and I have a really close family friend that has 3 biological kids and several adopted foster children. I would love that. As I said, you hand me a baby, and I will love it just as much as if I carried it nine months. What a cool way to give a child a home that maybe wouldn't have had one. So even if we do IVF and it works, fostering/fostering to adopt is still in the cards for us!

And onto the last option, adopting an embryo. To be honest with you, I've looked into this only slightly after following the Davenport's (awesome, awesome people) journey. It seems like a really good option that falls somewhere between adoption (in the traditional sense) and having biological children because you adopt an embryo, they implant it, you carry the baby, and vwalla. This is another option for us, but I need to dig into it a little deeper if IVF with our goods doesn't work.

So there you have it...my thoughts on our options. We will be moving forward with option number 1 (IVF) and try to roll with the punches. Here is my question for you: how would you like us to do this? Would you like the blow by blow? Postings each step of the way? Or would you like us to make it through the first round and post backwards how we got to the outcome we got to? We want to share the process, but in the way you all want to hear about it! So leave a comment and let us know!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday - The Party Continues

We can't stress enough how important it is in our own lives to slow down when things seem to be getting "fast" and just think about the little things that we're thankful for. Many of you expressed a similar sentiment last week as 8 people joined forces with us and blogged about their own thankfulness. I have a little "Linky Tools" at the end of this post that you can use to join the party and link up your thankfulness post! Feel free to spread this around to anyone you know that may like to participate.

We all have GREAT things going on in our lives and sometimes it's just a matter of sitting down and putting it to paper before we realize how good we really have it.

Mandi's list:

I’m thankful for being young. This may sound a little silly, but after being at the baby makin’ doctor, they make it sound like all the world’s problems can be solved by having a young uterus. Thank you mom and dad for conceiving me in 1986 vs 1976!

I’m thankful for my mommy being back in the US and A. My mom got back into town from Shanghai (where she and my dad currently live) for Christmas and New Years. I absolutely love spending time with my mom and always look forward to her being back in town. I am eagerly awaiting my dad’s arrival this time next week. My parents are the bomb-diggity and I’m so blessed to have them home for the holidays, and in my life in general.

I’m thankful for the ability to shop online. I like to shop for all of 30 minutes, and then I’m ready to be done. The world of online shopping is like heaven to shoppers like me. I have bought a lot of my Christmas gifts online this year (especially Ronnie’s gifts because if we do shop, we’re together). Man oh man do I love clicking through pages of merchandise from the comfort of my couch, sipping on hot chocolate, in my PJs.

I’m thankful for living in an area where there are a ton of shops and restaurants nearby (within a mile). On Monday night I was craving ice cream around 8:30 pm, and didn’t have any in the house, so we jumped in the car and made a Cold Stone run (I’m VERY thankful for Cold Stone). I got a “Cookie Doughn’t You Want Some” ice cream…then we drove next door to McDonalds so Ronnie could get a cheaper option!! He’s not as thankful for Cold Stone…as he hates their high prices.

I’m thankful for my husband’s willingness to fold laundry. There are a few chores around the house that I despise…folding laundry is one of them. I will wash laundry all day long (AKA carry it to the washer, start washer, transfer to dryer, start dryer…I don’t wash by hand) but when it comes to folding it, I’d let it sit for days if my loving, wonderful husband didn’t take the initiative to encourage us to fold the laundry together, or just do it himself (typically it’s the ladder). He sure knows how to make my day!

Ronnie's list:

I’m thankful for people who are a billion times smarter than me. Going through the IVF process, I have been able to sit back and take a look at the science that’s involved, and I sit here in amazement that someone discovered all of this! Not only have they discovered it, but they’re made it better year after year, to the point that they can create a baby/make a woman pregnant with almost an 80% success rate (depending on age, fertility issues, doctor, etc.)

I’m thankful that Nancy (Mandi’s mom) is in town. Seeing the joy on Mandi’s face when she gets to spend time with her mom, beyond the daily 1-hour Skype call, is what I’m truly thankful for. In addition to that, I’m eagerly awaiting Eric’s arrival, so we can have the whole clan around for the holidays.

I’m thankful for new experiences. Today was the first time in my entire life that I have ever raked up leaves. I never thought that I would have to rake leaves (because I never thought I’d move out of Arizona, and it’s not normal to have leaves in your yard in Arizona…). I actually loved seeing them raked into piles and wanted to jump into the piles like people do in movies.

I’m thankful for excitement. It’s been very heart-warming, comforting, and encouraging seeing the genuine excitement within our family as a result of talking about the IVF process. You can tell that they’re behind us 100% and are eager to add onto the family. It’s not just with our family however, but also those that we know in the CF community that have showered us with words of encouragement and support.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Second Wind / Challenge Thrown Down

Huffing and puffing happened, but there would be no blowing down of the house.

I took off for my run today feeling great! The weather was perfect. My legs felt loose. My lungs felt open. I was ready to nail it...then I actually started running. It actually took about .5 miles for it really to hit me, but when it hit, it hit. All of the sudden my lungs really tightened up and I had little mini coughing spasms. Now, coughing spasm during my run is something I am very used to, but the problem this time was the 3 bowls of Raisin Bran sloshing around in my stomach that had been consumed an hour prior. Not great planning on my part. After feeling great and ready to kick booty, I had to stop. At this point I was dry heaving and doing my best to keep the cereal down. As I was walking down the road, thinking about exactly what NOT TO DO before my next run, I saw Mandi approaching.

I was still walking as we passed each other, but as we passed she gave me a big ol' thumbs up and yelled "push it!!". I wish I could tell you that it was right at that moment that I got the energy I needed and broke out into a full sprint to make up for some lost time. Yeah, that did not happen. I was still swallowing down the pre-puke and just trying to get to a point where I didn't feel like tossing my cookies. It took me about another 2 minutes of walking before I was in a position to harness Mandi's "second wind" and just go for it. I took off.

I started booking it down the road with only the image of Mandi with a thumbs up running through my mind. I knew I had it in me, it was just getting over that mental hurdle that was keeping me from pushing it during the first half of my run. Could I have thrown up still? Of course! But I decided that pushing it the rest of the way was more rewarding than throwing up on the side of the road would have sucked. Sometimes you just have to pick the option that will suck less. I did, and I ran. Not only did I run, but I booked it.

When I finally reached the end of my run, I was throw-up free and was actually able to post a decent pace. And I was right, finishing that run strong was worth the risk. If I would have played it safe and walked the whole way home, there's no way that I would have felt satisfied. Instead, I was able to hold my head high knowing that I pushed through the pain, queasiness and lung tightness that I faced. I mean think about. If we only accomplished things that "came easy to us" would we really be satisfied? I think not. We can be much more satisfied when we accomplish something that we really had to work for or does not come easy to us.

So I challenge you. What can you do today that may seem impossible? Walk a mile? Jog 50 yards? Do two treatments? Have a smile on your face all day? Cook an entire meal? What is it? Leave me a comment and let me know what it is!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Thoughts About Baby Makin'

Wait!! Before you turn off your computer, close down this blog or throw-up on your keyboard, don't panic - I will not actually go into my thoughts on the baby making process. Well, at least not the baby making process that most of you are familiar with. Today, Mandi and I head off to the fertility doc (is that what you call them?) to go over all of our options and get some initial screening done. Mandi shared some of her thoughts heading into this appointment, so I figure I might as well share some of mine.

- I'm excited. We're at the beginning of this whole journey and although I know it can be emotionally draining, I'm ready, and I'm excited. Here's the deal; I've been a "master" at managing expectations my whole life and I'm hoping that doesn't fail me during this process. I'm going into this expecting to create a child, BUT if that's not the end result, I'll be ok. I'll still end up with what I have now. A beautiful wife, a wonderful life and a crazy (in a good way) family that loves us unconditionally. The way I see it, we can't lose.

- I'm ready. From a very young age, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a great husband (check - right Mandi?) and a great father. I'm as ready as I'll ever be to start the journey to great fatherness (sounded good at the time). Mandi and I have discussed this many of times and for me it's a simple question and answer. What do I want to do now in life, that a child would prevent me from doing? Uhhhhh, nothing. What do I want to do now in life, that a child would allow me to do? Let's revert back to box number two - I'm ready to be a father.

- I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful that no matter what the result and no matter what the process, Mandi and I will grow our marriage. Nothing is more important to me. You often hear that "God doesn't waste pain" and "God can use us best when we're broken". I believe both of those things 100%, and although I pray it doesn't come to that, I also pray that if it does, we have the wisdom to recognize what God is trying to do in our lives. More importantly, I pray that we draw upon strength from Him as we lean upon each other.

- I'm faithful. When we made our vows, we promised to put our own wills below the wills of our Father. We're turning this process over to Him completely and our faithful that He will provide the most perfect outcome.

- I'm patient. "Patience is bitter, but it's fruit is sweet". I can't tell you how many times I'm recited that quote to myself, Mandi, my family and friends. I'll need to recall this quote probably more often than not during this process. And to be honest, it will probably not be a reminder for me. I won't name any names, but there is a little somebody who doesn't exactly excel in the patience category. That's what marriage is all about though, our strengths cover each other's weakness.

All-in-all I'm ready to get this party started and it starts with this first appointment. Send us some prayers that we're good candidates and that this process will be as smooth as possible. We'll be updating you as much as possible and also documenting as much as we can. That is, if you guys are even interested in coming along on this journey?

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Mixed Bag of Emotions

Tomorrow we meet with a fertility doc and I'm a mixed bag of emotions. Tomorrow is an initial consult: to hear what the options are, what the process looks like and what a reasonable timeline might be. As we have said before, we know it's a LONG process, so we're trying to start it on the early side of when we want to start popping out babies, because the last thing I want is to get the itch really bad, and have no answers and no idea what I'm looking at in terms of time (patience is something I'm still working on). All that being said, I would take a baby tomorrow if you handed it to me. I've always wanted to be a mom (probably because my own mother was a rock star) and I don't feel like there's anything we need to accomplish or do before a baby comes. So I am getting a little itchy :) The only thing that has kept us from going to see someone sooner is that we're just enjoying each other. Newly married life is the BEST and obviously a baby would really throw a wrench in some of that (like "Naked Sunday"...which never really got off the ground, but Ronnie really tried for it by not turning the AC below 85 all summer...in AZ). But we also know that Ronnie is 30, and even if he lives to 80 (which we're fully planning on), he'll likely get more and more tired (I guess we all will!), so I want to be sure that we're having kids while he's still a spring chicken and can throw a ball with them in the back yard (one of his top reasons for wanting kids).

There are about a bazillion questions swirling in my head, in addition to "when is right for us to start?". How much will this cost? How long will I have to be taking meds? (Side Note: I never take meds. And I hate taking meds because I worry about every side effect possible...but that I will have to get over). What are the risks with IVF and ICSI? Will Ronnie's little swimmers be in there when they aspirate? What are the risks of fertilizing an egg with a sperm that would have never been able to do it on their own? (Seems like a recipe for issues). What are the benefits and risks of implanting 1 egg vs 2? I'm only 5'2 and 106lbs....seems like carrying twins would be nearly impossible and just wreak havoc on my body. Although Ronnie keeps saying, "then we'd be done!" "Yeah, done as is dead," I think to myself. Will my vanity allow me to enjoy being pregnant and the likely weigh gain, stretch marks, and who knows what else? (I struggle with this one a bit...but I want to be preggers more than anything else...so it'll be a good learning experience on how to let go, and let God work his magic by allowing a HUMAN TO GROW IN MY BODY - still a crazy concept when you really think about it). Can I exercise? What is different with a high risk pregnancy? Where are all the procedures done? Why are you the doctor for us? (Obviously this is the question I will be asking this doctor, not one that you guys have to answer!) What if I have infertility issues also that we don't know about?

Those are just a few of the many questions. Some will be asked in this initial meeting...many will be reserved for when we actually get into the meat and potatoes of the process. I will try to take it all in and share as much as I can. In doing my hours of research (yes, hours upon hours) regarding options for couples in which the man has CF, there was very little to be found. Luckily, I found a few people on CysticLife who had been there and were willing to answer questions. Oddly enough, someone on CL, living in Phoenix, wrote a blog about all of it just a few weeks back. But I haven't found much more than that, and I know there are a ton of people out there with the same questions (maybe just about male infertility in general). So I will try to relay as much info as I can: the options and detail the whole process. Feel free to ask questions. After we hear what our options are tomorrow, we'll write our thoughts on each option (including the not so obvious of no IVF at all, and adopting or fostering to adopt). So expect that post in the next week or so!

So here's to tomorrow, step 2 in our baby makin' journey! I'm excited and want to puke, all at the same time!!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dear Parents...

I saw this blog over on CysticLife and wanted to share it with all of you...

I can not imagine what went through your minds and hearts when your child was diagnosed with CF. I have always felt i should help parents by giving them some tips. I am not a parent with a child who has CF but i am a wife of someones child who has CF.

From the second I met my husband i knew he was special. We were in highschool and every once in a while he would miss school because he was sick. I never knew the severety of CF because it didn't define him. He was very smart, determined, had a rock band, was drum line captain and worked. It wasn't until we got serious that his disease ever came up. His parents have always had high expectations of him and his abilities and never allowed him to be a victim.

I know as a parent you may feel helpless at times and that there is nothing you can do. The best thing you can do for your child is treat them the same way you would if they didn't have a disease. I can not thank his parents enough for raising him this way and helping me to pick up and follow their lead. The reality is it sucks at times and you can get sad or pissed at the world, but then get over it. It won't change anything. There are some things you can't control, but your attitude towards them is 100% in your control.

I want you all to know you have the opportunity to raise a child who can inspire many and experience a full life. My husband has gotten to go to college, get married, have a successful career and now we are attempting to have children. I understand not all kids are as fortunate as my husband has been, but give them the tools and strength to have a chance. I hope to one day have my own children and I will teach them how to live their life and never feel like a victim.

Have hope in your childs future. My husband is 28 and we will celebrate 5 years of no hospitilization in February. There is no cure but there are great doctors and treatments. Giving your children strength and determination to deal with the life they were given is the best thing you can do for them.

Thank you Cheryl for writing such a powerful blog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"I can never imagine myself running!"

Guest post by Erin Goodrich

"That is awesome, but I can never imagine myself running!" Those were the first thoughts that filled my mind when I cam across Ronnie's blog RSR last October when I was sitting in my hospital bed, PICC line in my arm, wondering how I got to the point where admission was becoming a yearly affair and the nurses actually now remembered who I was.

Let me back up a little. I was diagnosed with CF about 3 months old from failure to thrive. Throughout my whole childhood and teenage years I never felt any "true" affects from CF. Yes, I had doctors visits every 3 months, and yes every time I left the doctors I always seemed to be on some oral antibiotic for the next two weeks, and yes I took all the pills and did all the treatments that went along with this disease. However, I never really "felt" it. Then there I was, 22 years old, about one year exactly from the time I had transitioned from the pediatric to the adult clinic was my doctor saying "I think it's time you have your first hospital stay seeing your PFT's have dropped" Tears, anger, frustration, fear all came rushing on me. I thought at that moment my life was ending, silly as it sounds, I was scared to death, and what the hell was this so called PICC line they were going to put in me!?!

Fast forward 3 years, and 3 hospital admissions later. CF was affecting my everyday life, now having that cough that almost never goes away, with a lot more mucus than I was EVER used to (thank you pseudomonas) and that constant worry that I had, yet never really expressed to anyone. On the outside I was a positive girl, who was living her life to the fullest. On the inside I was a mess.

I started googling CF groups on the Internet during my hospital stay and I was surprised and comforted to come across multitudes of blogs with people who had CF just like me! I started reading Ronnie's blog with amazement, I even emailed him to get some tips! Once I got home from that hospital stay I hopped right on that treadmill!!
Then, about 2 weeks later, I got preoccupied with many "other things" so I stopped for a little while; this cycle would continue for the next 8 months. Then May came, another admission (twice in one year, yikes!) During that time I went home on IV's and started walking on my treadmill the whole time. When the PICC came out and my PFT'S were up a little, I was ready to tackle this whole "exercising" thing head on! Also, during that time I started to share some of my fears and concerns to my boyfriend of 2 years and my closest friends, everyone was EXTREMELY supportive, which really helped.

Throughout the whole summer I walked with intervals of running, loosely following the couch to 5k program. I set a goal for myself that I would run the Troy Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning. Once the fall came, I could still only run for 3 minutes at a time; gasping for air. I started to tell people I was thinking of running the Trot, but wasn't sure if I could do it. EVERYONE I told about this was extremely encouraging, all these people believed in me! My boyfriend and other friends signed up for the 5k and they were going to do it with me. Well there I was, out of EXCUSES, if others believed in me, I had to believe in myself. I had to do this, not only to prove to my friends and doctors that CF was not going to hold me back, but I owed it to myself to overcome the one thing that I thought I could never do, and that these past few years that were really hard for me were for a reason; a wake up call to put me on the proactive route with my CF rather than the reactive.

One month until the race I started to up my minutes of jogging, one night I ran 1.5 miles without stopping, when I got off the treadmill I was beaming with excitement (and dripping with salty sweat!) The next week I ran 2 miles without stopping, the week of the Turkey Trot I ran outside (in the cold weather) and ran 2.5 miles with only having to stop a couple of times. During this whole process my lungs were even feeling better and I could feel a difference!
Then there I was, at the start line Thanksgiving morning, 29 degrees and cloudy skies with my friends surrounding me, good luck text's flooded my phone that morning. All I wanted to do was to FINISH, and be at least a little under 45 minutes. I was so nervous I wasn't going to be able to do the whole 5k. I took a deep breathe and thought to myself, think about what you can do, not what you can't do, and I CAN DO THIS.

Before I knew it I was off with the other 4,000 runners, my friend Samantha ran side by side with me the whole time. When we first started out the cold temperatures were killing my breathing, and I found it hard to settle into a slow pace that I could stay at. I looked around and everyone else seemed to be running with such ease. Meanwhile, I was praying that I could just make it to the first mile. We finally passed the first mile, and at that point you could see the leaders already coming back around. Once we made it to the turn around I could see that I was actually ahead of quite a few people! Up a ahead was the second mile marker, I could feel my body tiring, but I kept on only taking a break to walk up the steep hill. When we roundedthe corner towards the finish line I heard Sam say "Erin look at the clock we're going to be under 40 minutes!!!" At that point a small burst of energy kicked in and I raced towards the finish line, with people on either side cheering for me and all of the other runners.

I cannot put into words the feeling inside I had when I crossed that line. I even fought back a few tears, it was almost like a dream, I couldn't believe I DID IT!! No one could take this small victory away from me, not even CF. This was a new chapter in my life, this was a chapter where I started believing in myself a little more, working harder on my health by incorporating exercising into my life, and being more proactive. That way, the next time I'm sitting in that hospital bed, PICC in my arm I will know I am doing everything possible to keep myself healthy. I also know I have a very long road ahead of me, and even though they'll be some bumps on that road if I keep running full speed ahead I'll make it to the smooth ground again.
I also wanted to send a special thank you out to Ronnie, if it wasn't for you, I NEVER would have done this, thank you for inspiring and believing in me. I can't wait to see how far I can get these PFT's up! :)

Erin's Bio: I'm 26 years old and was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I went to college in Worcester, Ma and then moved over to New York. I currently live in Clifton Park, Ny and work as a dispatch operations manager for a phone company based in the Capital District. My interests and hobbies consists of traveling, going out to eat, reading, shopping, decorating, EXERCISING and spending time with friends. "We're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time" :)

Note from Ronnie: Thank you SO MUCH Erin for taking the time to write this inspiring guest blog. I've known you for quite some time now and I can't tell you how proud I am of what you've accomplished. What a shining example of saying "enough is enough" and stopping at NOTHING to achieve your goals. I'll always be here cheering you on and I can't wait to see what you "beat down" next :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Who's coming with us!?!?

Last week, Mandi had a great post about thankfulness that we really wanted to build off of and continue this week. We can't stress enough how important we feel it is in our own lives that we remember to slow down when things seem to be getting a "fast" and just think about the little things that we're thankful for. Many of you expressed a similar sentiment last week and sounded interested in joining us in highlighting stuff throughout the week that we're thankful for and sharing them on our respective blogs or through the comment section of this blog. I have a little "Linky Tools" at the end of this post in which you can link your thankfulness post up to (I hope it works). Feel free to spread this around to anyone you know that may like to participate.

We all have GREAT things going on in our lives and sometimes it's just a matter of sitting down and putting it to paper before we realize how good we really have it.

Mandi's List:
1. As some of you may have seen, we're doing a 12 Days of Christmas Campaign with CysticLife...where we're sending out daily emails featuring articles by some of the incredible members of the CF community. It has been my job to create the emails and send them. And let me tell you, I couldn't help but think how thankful I am for technology and MailChimp.com (and no, this is not a sponsored plug. I do in fact just think it's the coolest thing)!! It has been a breeze to put the emails together, update the mailing list, hit send, and that so cool to be able to track the number of opens, clicks, etc. Technology blows my mind sometimes!
2. Thankful for insurance. We have incredible insurance and are SO blessed to have the insurance that we have. And in assessing potential baby makin' cost (all of which are out of pocket because I think it's one of the only things our insurance doesn't pay) I couldn't help but think about how blessed we are to not have to worry about medical costs with all of Ronnie's meds, hospital stays, clinic visits, etc. Insurance can be a headache at times, but man oh man, what a blessing it is to have a $4000/month med become a $10 co pay!
3. I am so thankful for the fact that we got our patio furniture this week, and it's all in good shape, no issues, fit perfectly on the patio, and is as comfortable as Ronnie required furniture to be. We ordered our patio furniture 6 weeks ago (it was brutal waiting 6 weeks to get it, as I'm sure you can imagine), and got it on Monday. I was nervous to see it in person and in the space, because there were a lot of variables we weren't sure about (color of the iron, color of the cushions, size, etc). But it all turned out perfect, which leads me to:
4. I'm thankful for arizona weather. It's been in the 70s the last few days (gotta love Arizona - it's December and in the high 70s). We have been able to sit outside on our new patio furniture quite a bit. It's been incredible to enjoy some meals and just spend time together outside, and really enjoy our yard and the weather.
5. I'm thankful for 2 legs that work. As many of you know, I'm training for the Phoenix Half marathon in January, so I am now needing to get in some longer runs. I feel so blessed to be able to run. Don't get me wrong, I hate running and I'm not really built to run (my body naturally moves slow, I have short, stubby legs, and my knees and ankles generally like to act up), but I am thrilled that I have the ability to stand up on two legs and exercise - whether it's for a run, a walk, or just a quick bike ride.
6. I'm thankful for my hubby (was this on my list last week too? I'm feeling like this may be a trend). Yesterday I went with Ronnie to a respiratory college to listen to him speak about CF, and I sat there the whole time feeling so blessed to be his wife. There's something about watching Ronnie speak that takes him out of the context of "oh that's just my husband Ronnie" and helps put into perspective so many of the traits I take for granted or don't notice all the time - like his sense of humor, compassion, passion, and intelligence. These are all traits I know he possesses, but seeing them from a different lens always makes me feel so blessed to get to call him "mine". (I know I know, CHEESY)!

Ronnie's List:
1. We're so blessed to live in a neighborhood we love with neighbors who we like. Recently we've had a chance to talk with some of our neighbors for an extended period of time (not your standard hi and bye talk) and come to find out, they're really cool! They're both young families who have quite a bit going on, but both guys love to talk sports. Sold!
2. Speaking of neighbors, I'm thankful for the little "bromance" (as Mandi calls it) brewing with my next door neighbor Rob. We spent the whole weekend doing projects on each others' houses and were able to really bond over some DYI stuff around the house. He's quite the handyman and really took the time to teach as we went along.
3. I'm thankful for good groups at our church. We're part of a group called "After I do" that's made up of couples who have been married for less than 5 years. Tonight we went to a small group which spun off of that group and enjoyed ourselves very much.
4. I have such a helpful wife. She's willing to do whatever it takes to assist me in getting into the best position for better lung function. Whether it's cheer me on , hold me accountable, move around my treatments or pound my back; she'll do it and won't complain. She's actually convinced me that she'd like me to be around for a very long time :)
5. I got a really good deal at a yard sale last week. I paid 20 bucks for an electric scooter, and guess what, it actually works!! I'm going to have to replace the battery for optimal performance, but for 20 bucks, I'll take it.

So there you have it. We could both probably go on and on, but that ought to do it for tonight. I hope to see many blogs shared or comments posted telling us what your thankful for today or this past week. It seems the positivity breeds positivity, and in my opinion, you can never have too much of that!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rondi's Recipes: Slow Cooker Beef Curry

In our quest to become better cooks and pushing ourselves to new levels in the kitchen, Mandi and I will attempt to do a food blog once a week with pictures and reviews included. We realize that we did miss last week, not because we didn't cook, but because we forgot to take pictures. We'll also be posting pictures of our hamburger cake shortly :)

So here it is, week 2:

Slow Cooker Beef Curry

The ingredients: Curry, Jalapeno, Ginger, Onion, Stewed Tomato, Garlic, Beef Broth, Stew Meat, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

Mandi chopping up the jalapeno and ginger root.

Browning the beef in olive oil.

Chopped onion goes in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Browned beef goes on top of the onion.

Check on Jezzabel to make sure she's comfortable on the burlap sacks used to cover plants, while laying 2 feet away from her bed.

Combine juice from browned beef, garlic, jalapeno and ginger.

Add in stewed tomatoes and curry powder.


...and serve. Oh yeah, we served it on top of rice.

Prep Time: About 15 minutes (with two people)
Cook Time: 6-8 hours on low heat in slow cooker

What we liked:

I like that it was only about a 15 minute prep time.

It was relatively idiot proof - you can't really screw up browning meat and pouring ingredients into a slow cooker.

It's a great meal for when it's cold outside, the heat of the meal really warms you up, without being an overly heavy meal, like most winter meals

You can put it all together and let it sit all day. Great for dinners when you're busy right up until meal time.

I loved smelling the different spices while this meal was being prepped. I think I could walk around with a ginger root tied to my neck.

For me, it had the perfect "heat". I could feel that heat in my mouth, but it didn't make me sweat like spicy things often do.

Brown, chop, mix, dump, turn on slow cooker. Not even I could mess this up.

The meal felt really light to me and had a fresh taste all of the way through.

What we'd change:

I would add more of each of the key spices: more garlic, ginger, and curry. I would mind more jalapeno, but it still had a pretty good kick to it with just 1.

This isn't something you can change, but something that is a bit of a con. It takes 8 hours in the slow cooker, so it's a meal that you need to think about the day before.

I would increase the curry, ginger and garlic. It had some good flavors, but I wanted more.

I would think about adding some chopped potato.

I'd love to have some naan bread with this meal.

Here's our overall rating (with 1 being the worst meal we've ever had and 10 being the best):

Mandi's Rating: 8.5

Ronnie's Rating: 8

Again, if you guys have any suggestions on how this is laid out or what you guys would like to see answered/done differently, please let us know :)