Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Learned the Hard Way.

There are many things that I have learned the hard way in this life, as I rarely do it the smart or easy way, but for the purpose of this blog, I'll just focus on one.

Many of you know my story so you probably already know where I'm going with this...

What did I learn the hard way?

I learned that if you don't adjust in this CF life; you can die.

Growing up, I was always active and involved in sports. I was also raised by a helicopter mom who was always hovering around making sure I was doing things the right way. This included my treatments. I kid you not, in the 20 years I lived in my mom's house, I did 2 treatment sets a day about 99.5% of the time. With her around, I had no choice. She made it very clear that it was her way or no way. To live in her house, I had to live by her rules and one of the rules was that treatments come before leaving the house in the morning and before going out or going to bed at night. If I wanted her support in any other activity within my life, I had to place my treatments on the non-negotiable list.

It actually worked out pretty well since I knew my mom was the queen of follow-through and if she said it, it for darn sure was going to happen. In fact, it only took me challenging her once, and subsequently being held from football practice, to know that she was serious.

My mom's methods worked wonderfully for the first 20 years of my life. The next 8? Eh, not so much.

What changed though?

I moved out.

When I became solely responsible for my own health and my own treatment regiment, I really screwed up. It's not that I totally abandoned treatments; it wasn't that at all in fact. It was that I failed to adjust.

What exactly do I mean by that?

Well, for starters, I certainly wasn't as active after graduating from high school as I was when in high school and involved in organized sports year round. I also didn't have a set schedule like I did in high school. In college I could pick my classes and I could pick which days and which hours those classes would be held. Needless to say, I rarely had a morning class. With no morning classes, I often had late nights. With late nights, there wasn't always night treatments because I was "too tired" from a night of hanging out aka partying. Sure, I got my morning treatment in almost every single morning, but my night treatment? I was probably batting about .500 on that one. Not good.

This wouldn't have been such a big deal however if I was still as active as I had been. There's nothing real special about the airway clearance we do whether it be hand CPT, vest, pep or otherwise. The whole point is to knock mucus off the walls of our airways and to clear it from our lungs. Sports did that for me for the first 18 years of my life in addition to treatments.

But now, not only am I on my own with my own schedule and my own choices, but I'm not getting those extra treatments on a daily basis that I was getting through sports. Not only that, but now I'm getting up to one less treatment a day because I'm "too busy living life".

If only I would have adjusted. If only I knew then what I know now.

Being active on a daily basis was keeping me alive.

Making my own stupid choices and not being willing to adjust was slowly killing me.

When something was taken away or no longer available that was keeping me so healthy, I needed to be willing to adjust and add additional treatments via the traditional way or through another activity.

But I didn't.

I didn't adjust.

After 52 days in the hospital, I learned the hard way that I should have.