Saturday, November 5, 2011

You're Capable of More Than You Think

Guest Post by Jaime C.

My name is Jaime, I’m 26 years old, and on Monday, October 24th I ran a mile for the first time in my life. I mean EVER. Then, Tuesday I went and ran two. I know, I’m shocked also!

Those two nights were a triumph for me after five months of working out with a trainer and starting to run. I was a pretty active kid growing up, but after I graduated from high school and started college I just didn’t want to exercise any more--it got in the way of my social schedule and I didn’t want the reminder that my lungs were not cooperating with the plans I had. I was simply being lazy. This decision was quite possibly one of the worst I’ve made in my life.

Five months ago I moved to a new city with friends from college and transfered to a new office with my job. Deciding to move was a long and anxiety-filled process and taking care of myself kind of fell by the way-side. On top of that, the weekend of the actual move I caught a cold, which would. just. not. go. away. Prior to moving I had belonged to a gym but half-heartedly went a couple times a week and walked on the treadmill convinced I couldn’t really handle more than that because it was hard. My parents and new roommates (a couple of close friends from college) encouraged me to keep going to the gym and work with a trainer and really get serious about trying to get my lung function back up. I wasn’t really convinced that it would make much of a difference but decided to give it a try.

About a month into my “new” life I ended up having to do IVs which, as so many of y’all know, just takes it out of you! But one thing I did differently this time--kept working out (with a lot of prodding from my roommates). I took the full three weeks of IVs off of work and during that time got lots of rest, lots of awesome homemade meals (thanks to my church) and lots of time at the gym. After IVs my PFTs were back up to my baseline that I’ve had for the last few years, and fresh off that clean-out I hit the gym hard. The trainer I had been working out with had been doing his CF research and informed me that I was going to become a runner. I laughed in his face. And then he made me go run on the treadmill. And I did it. Very slowly at first and for very short distances, but I did it. It was really hard and I was pretty miserable for a long time. I think that much of the battle was mental for me--believing that what I was doing was, in fact, going to make a difference in my ability to breath, live longer, live better. And believing that I could actually do it.

One thing that my trainer said to me was that he thinks I am capable of more than I think I am. I was totally lame and started crying in the gym. Really cool. But it got me thinking, and I realized that there are a lot of things that I’ve decided I can’t do because of CF. I won’t go into that laundry list but the majority of it is ridiculous because I’ve done things in my life that were hard and out there and impulsive and crazy like moving to a foreign country for 10 months with a weeks notice. So why was taking care of my body and working hard, I mean really hard, to help myself so difficult? Why was I able to do things in other “areas” of my life that required a leap of faith with the absolute possibility of failure but not when it came to putting in the work to help extend my own life? I think it’s because I didn’t want to put in the work, experience the pain, deal with the emotions and the struggles and still get sick or have it make no difference. That feels so defeating and leaves me with a distinct feeling of helplessness that I’ve never experienced elsewhere.

I don’t have a good answer to my own questions or know of the best way to handle the possibility of working really really hard at something and having it go badly or not have miraculous results. But what I do know is that when I went to clinic last Thursday my PFTs were, and I quote my doctor: “the highest they’ve been in 5 years.” WHAT?! All I could do was start laughing. And almost fall off the table. I’m just not graceful. It’s ok, I’ve embraced it. But I digress. The moment after I finished my PFTs I knew they looked good, but having my doc go through my chart and really look at how high and low they’ve been in the last few years confirmed that my hard work was indeed paying off. And all of my miserable moments leading up to being able to run two whole miles were suddenly totally worth it!

Now I know that there will be times when I’ve been working hard and I might not see improvement. We all know the unpredictable nature of CF and that even when doing everything right things can still get worse; and yes that’s frustrating. I can’t in all honesty say that when I experience one of those times in the future, where, despite hard work I still get worse that I’ll have a good attitude about it. However, right now, on this side of that situation, I want to cultivate a lifestyle and disposition that reflect what I’ve learned from these last five months: when it comes to CF I am absolutely capable of more than I ever thought; that working hard through pain and burning lungs and muscles is worth it to take back my life and not feeling like CF has already claimed victory. I CAN and I WILL fight this.

Bio: I'm Jaime C. and I'm 26 years old from NC. I was diagnosed at 3 months old at Duke but have been seen at UNC by an amazing group of doctors since I was four. I work full time at a bank and have been doing that for the last two and a half years. Prior to that, I was a nanny in Italy, and before that a college student! I love my family, nail polish, exploring my city, finding new fun places to eat, cooking, the beach, baseball, fashion, traveling the world, learning about and knowing God more, and having a good beer with friends. I hope this little slice of my life helps others realize that they are stronger and capable of more than they think especially in regards to exercise.

Note from Ronnie: I can't thank Jaime enough for sharing her story. It rings so true to many of us in the CF community doesn't it? I know that when I started running, all I could do was picture failing. That fact the I decided to run was a victory in itself, but when I actually "hit the ground running" it became a battle of believing in myself. I think Jaime shows us that through some hard work, preserving and belief in oneself, anything is possible!! Thank you SO MUCH cyster!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mandi's Maternity Photos!!

Seems like just yesterday that we shot these! Props to our friend Karen for some excellent shots :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Cuteness & Jogging Strollers

It's thankful Thursday time! We all have so much to be thankful for and we love to take this opportunity just to write down each and everything that comes to mind. Please take this time to share with us what you're thankful for as well. If you have a blog expressing your thankfulness, please share the link! Without further ado, here's what we're thankful for:

Mandi's List:
I'm thankful for Starbucks. I have been walking to Starbucks with Mckenna in the mornings and man what a great way to start the day. Nights have been a bit long and stressful for me, but all feels right with the world when the sun comes up and I'm on a walk with Peanut headed for a yummy treat.

I'm thankful for my momma. She is in town right now and currently sewing a ton of pillows for the nursery. Sewing is one skill that was no inherited by me from my mom, so I am very very thankful that she's willing to take the time to create some fun additions for the nursery.

I'm thankful for jogging strollers. Sometimes a get a bit stir-crazy from being inside and tethered to a milk-guzzling machine. But being able to grab Peanut and get out for some fresh air, me walking, her cruising in the stroller.

Ronnie's List:

I'm thankful that it is 57 degrees outside as I write this. One thing I'm not is a "snow bunny", but I do love it when there is a nice chill in the air. Right around this time every year is when we get to start using the blankets on our bed, which is always nice for a change! And I know I wrote about this last week, but it's my Thankful Thursday and I'll dry if I want to...or something like that.

I'm so thankful for a cute daughter. There, I said it. Would I be thankful for her if she wasn't cute? Of course! But I'm just being honest here - I am so thrilled with how pretty she is and I can't get enough of her little face. Mandi and I were just talking about the urge to want to squeeze tight and having to restrain ourselves from doing it too tight. Oh, and on the pretty thing, check back with me in 14 years to see how I feel about it :)
I'm thankful for people willing to give of their time in order to help or assist within the CF community without seeking anything in return. You guys know who you are. THANK YOU!

So, what are you thankful for today?

Workout Wednesday: Just Do It!!

I often get asked for advice about starting a workout plan or tips on how to accomplish one's goals when it comes to getting healthier. My advice is not novel nor is it mind blowing, in fact, I didn't even originally come up with it: Just do it. Sure, you probably need to know what you'll be doing, but I think a lot of us get caught up in analysis paralysis when it comes to working out. We worry so much about the nuances and the sets and the time and the reps and the heart rate etc. that we end up doing nothing. All that is important is that you set a goal and you take steps forward each and every day to achieve that goal. If your goal is to get healthier and you've decided the only way to get healthier is to add exercise to your routine in addition to your treatment schedule, stop thinking about it and just do it! And I'm not talking to you as someone who doesn't struggle with this myself.

When it comes to me and working out I would say that one of my biggest obstacles is analysis paralysis. I often find myself coming up with a variety of reasons of why working out today just won't work out. My stomach hurts. I'm hungry and I have to choose between eating and working out. I have a headache. I'm having trouble breathing today. Do I really have time? Is there something else that I should be doing instead? Does it really matter if I just miss one day? I've already missed one day what's the big deal if I miss two?

What I really want you guys understand is that this is a conversation that goes on in my head almost daily. See, I'm not one of those guys that has a burning desire to go to the gym and more so, I try to find every reason not to do cardio. Let's be clear, I hate running and I'm not particularly fond of getting out of breath. There is something I am good at however, and that is sticking to my word. I try very hard to say what I'm going to do and then do what I said I would do. I was convinced a couple of years ago that the only way I was going to get back to who I wanted to be, was to recommit to treatments and exercise. I made a promise to myself that I will wake up each and every day going forward and try to be the best version of myself. To be the best version of myself I need to be the healthiest I can be. No one can dispute that - without our health, the rest of our life suffers. I know full well that when I am healthier I am more active and when I'm more active, I am happier. And not only did I make a promise to myself but I made a promise to Mandi - that if she was going to be my wife I would do anything and everything to make sure I was in this for the long haul. I made that promise and I intend to keep it.

Now, is it easy? Nope. Not at all. The biggest challenge I face each and every day is actually willing myself to get my butt to the gym. Each and every day I go through a variety of questions and throw out a variety of roadblocks to try to cause myself to stumble. My mind knows that my body would rather sit on the couch and hang out with my wife. So my mind is a really good at convincing my actions that my body knows best. In fact, just today, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was go to the gym. But, as I said, I'm a man of my word and this morning I woke up and promised myself that I would do spin class. That's one thing I've discovered that really helps when it comes to sticking with a workout plan - don't worry about working out for all of next week, just worry about working out today!

Here's what you'll find: once you actually get to the gym you enjoy each and every second of it. You may even enjoy being out of breath! Like I said, the last thing on my mind today was actually getting myself to the gym and doing spin class, but just like each and every time before this, I left the gym with a smile on my face. I even told myself that I was going to “take it easy” at spin class today, but once I got started I really pushed myself. And I'm not kidding, that happens every single time I drag my butt to the gym. It's all about giving yourself an opportunity to succeed. Like MJ said, "We miss 100 percent of the shots we don't take". Stop holding onto the ball afraid you're going to miss the shot. Who cares?!?! Shoot the ball! Chances are, it will go in.

Thinking about working out today? Just do it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2 Weeks Down: Trick-or-treat?

In keeping with the Halloween spirit I thought I would reflect on some of the tricks and treats that occurred during the past 2 weeks. Wow, first just let me say that I can't believe it's only been 2 weeks! If I woke up tomorrow and someone told me that it had been 2 months I would completely believe them.

With this being our first child, there are some things that I expected and some things that I didn't expect. We both have been around younger children, whether it be family members or neighbors, but it is quite a different experience when you're the one solely responsible for this little life. Just like any first-time parents, or any parents for that matter, we have had our share of both tricks and treats. Without further ado:


I knew that babies pooped and peed a lot, but I never imagined that it would be this much! It is true what they say, newborns are doing one of 3 things - eating, sleeping or pooping. Our little one has eating and sleeping down pretty well but she's still working on that messy little thing called pooping. Don't get me wrong, she poops enough for 56 babies, but her timing could use some help. Is it just Mckenna that insists on going to the bathroom while we're currently changing her diaper? It seems no matter how patient we are, she just waits for us to clean her up and put the new diaper down on the mat before she decides to finish going to the bathroom. Not only that, but this girl has a cannon on her!

Am I the only father out there that's jealous of breast-feeding? No, it's not that I want to breast-feed, but it's that I am just a tad bit jealous of that special time that Mandi and Mckenna get to spend together. It's funny, when I say it I think is sounds stupid, but I'm just being honest here. I managed to call bath time to try to make up for it a bit, but it just isn't the same. Never did I think that I would be jealous of not having boobs.

My back hurts. I think it's a combination of many things i.e. the gym, spin class, etc. but I would not doubt for a second that carrying around this almost 7 pound bowling ball has something to do with it! We then of course have to add in her car seat and the awkward angle that I take each and every time I put her securely in the base station. It's actually gotten to the point that Mandi scheduled a massage for me, but I don't think it helped very much. Pretty sure I need to focus more on stretching as this little baby girl will only get heavier.


All of you parents will understand this first treat - a love that's never been felt before. Now, please don't take this the wrong way, as I felt a more intense love the day I fell in love with and consequently married my wife, but this is in fact different. It's a combination of feeling an overwhelming need to protect, provide for and lead someone who would be completely incapable of doing it on their own. Mandi doesn't need me, she wants me. Mckenna on the other hand, needs her daddy. So whatever you call it, or however you want to define it, it's been amazing feeling this kind of love.

Mandi would tell you that I'm a big-time snuggler through in through. I've been able to take my love of snuggling to another level. If Mandi and I sat around snuggling all day we wouldn't get anything done (although that would be awesome). What's great about Mckenna, is I can snuggle her with one hand and I'm free to get work done with the other. Mandi and I have also worked out a routine to maximize Mandi's sleep that involves me taking over the parental duties early in the morning. I admit however that the 1st hour or so of those duties includes me snuggling Mckenna in our bed. Life. Is. Good.

One thing I'm not is a shopper. However, I have the best time buying baby clothes for Mckenna. I'm not so sure that I've come home empty-handed anytime that I left the house. Obviously this cannot continue, but for the meantime, I'm having a blast! We will of course continue to post pictures so you can see all of the little outfits that we've brought home or had gifted to us. Want to know a secret? I can't wait to do her hair. (Has anybody seen my man-card by the way??)

There are more tricks and treats that have presented themselves in these first 2 weeks, but I thought I would just give you guys a little taste for your face. But now I want to hear from you!

When you think back to your 1st child, what would you say the tricks or treats were?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mckenna Monday: My First Two Weeks

Mom's a little tired and can't think of what to write, so an easy solution was to just make Mandi Monday into Mckenna Monday. So I'll fill you guys in on what's new with me...just two weeks out of the womb.

Life has been good so far. I'm liking being home. My first few nights at home I had a bit of trouble sleeping. I got caught in this eating, pooping cycle, which didn't leave much time for sleep. But mom says I'm doing a really good job with feeding, I'm quick and have a good latch down. So we're cookin' with oil now!

Since coming home, I've been sleeping a ton. Each day I'm awake for longer and longer periods. But I still sleep away most the day. Sometimes I can muster up enough energy to open one eye, but then I'm out cold again. Although the last several days I've been up for 30 minute stretches, a few times a day. When I'm up I just take it all in. I study the face of the person who's holding me, we read books, we sing songs. I get a little over-stimulated sometimes, but for the most part I love when I wake up enough to play!

We have this dog that seems to follow me everywhere. If they leave me in my bassinet, I see her staring at me when I wake up. When it's time to eat, she sits next to mom and I. When I cry or make any sort of sound, she's right there staring at me again. I think we're going to be good playmates, if only I could figure out how to sit up or roll or something - I'm afraid just laying there isn't very fun for her.

I've really started to learn my hands. They did flop and jerk around, and I didn't have any real control of them. But now I totally get it. I can hold someone's finger when I want to, I can sit and run my hands and fingers on the skin of whoever's holding me, I even hold onto people's clothes from time to time. I think I'm going to like these if only I could use these things to feed, bath or clothe myself.

And the last little tid-bit I'll share is that I'm growing by leaps and bounds. Mom and dad called me Peanut for 9 months, and I'm afraid they jinxed me. I was born a whopping 6 lb 2 oz and 17 inches. No biggy though, I was 2 weeks early, so I didn't have that extra two weeks to pack on the pounds. I'm making up for it now though. In the last day or so, I have been eating NON STOP. Mom, dad, Nana and Papi all have commented how much bigger I look. My eyes don't focus enough from a distance to check myself out in the mirror to confirm, but judging by how snug some of my outfits are fitting, I think they just might be right. Later newborn clothes, hello 0-3 month sizes!

Welp, that's it for now. I'll update you all next week. Oh, and one more thing, any advice for a girl with an over-protective daddy? All I hear him say is, "you're not leaving the house til you're 30"...30? Really dad?