Saturday, January 15, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemonade

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about that old saying, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." You know this quote well, I'm sure. It seems like it's the go to when you're being told to make the best out of a bad situation. I've even heard variations of this quote, "When life hands you lemons...suck out all of the Vitamin C," "When life hands you lemons...ask for salt and tequila," "When life hands you lemons...find a kid with a paper cut" (that one's kind of mean, and I'm not sure it's really making the BEST out of a bad situation, sounds like sharing your pain with others?).

We've all heard this quote, and it's always said by someone meaning well. Telling us to make the best of the "sour" situation we're in. I often hear people using this term when talking about life with CF, or to people with CF. And while I get the motivation behind the statement, something, lately, isn't sitting right.

You see, this statement implies that the thing we're dealing with is inherently bad. But that may just be OUR perception of it. If the Lord gives you a struggle, in order to strengthen your character, your faith (and who knows what else) to further His plan and for our ultimate good, is that thing inherently bad? Romans 5:3,4 says: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I understand that the argument then becomes, "Right, but that's the point of the saying, something good (Hope/Lemonade) can be made out of something bad (Suffering/Lemons)." But my rebuttal is this: How drastically different would our view of hardships be if all along we viewed them as lemonade? What if we never had to force ourselves to create the lemonade out of the lemons? Instead, what if every hand we were dealt we assumed was lemonade? Some lemonade may be more sour, some may be very sweet, but never-the-less, it's all lemonade.

How would your life look if everything was lemonade? How would your view of your job change? How would your view of our marriage change? How would your view of CF change? How much easier would the day be, if everything was lemonade?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Baby Batter Appointment

Today, I go to what I am calling "The Sperm Doctor" for an initial consult before a procedure called MESA or TESA (to be honest, I don't know which one. I guess I'll learn tomorrow). I'll obviously be able to divulge more information as I learn it tomorrow or you could just ask Mandi because I'm sure that she's paid more attention to all of the details being thrown at us over the past few months. As I understand it, they need to go into my testicle and retrieve sperm. Again, not getting the procedure done tomorrow, just the consult.

For those of you that don't know, about 95% of CF men are sterile. I fall within that 95%. It's not that we don't have sperm, it's just that it can't come out. Here's a very quick and simple explanation. The testicle makes sperm and semen. A tube carries semen from the testicle and a tube carries sperm from the testicle to meet up with the semen. I, along with many men with CF, never developed the tube that carries the sperm to meet up with the semen. It's called a congenital absence of the vas deferens (if you want to get all technical). Since I don't have the tube to carry out the baby makin' process naturally, they have to go in and get the sperm.

So, today we go in and talk about what the procedure looks like and when it will be least that's what I was told :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Mommas and Gyms

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. We had 2 brave souls join us last week in expressing their thankfulness last week and we're hoping that more climb on board today! 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.

Mandi's List:

I'm thankful for the time I've had with my mom. I always love when she's in town, and she's leaving today :( We've had an absolute blast together the last 3 weeks, and I'm bummed to see her go, but man oh man am I so thankful that we have the great relationship that we have and that she'll be back relatively soon. I'm so thankful that she was able to be back in the states for 3 weeks.

I'm thankful for our gym. The last two weeks we've been back into our workout routine at the gym, and I LOVE it. I am so thrilled that we have such a wonderful gym, and one that is so close to our house. It eliminates the excuse of travel time - we just ride our bike there. How blessed are we that we can work out at a nice gym, that is close to our home!

I'm thankful for hot chocolate. I've cut out all caffeine because I read somewhere that cutting out caffeine can help the quality of your eggs, and even though my doctor said it won't effect anything if I drink caffeine, I cut it out just to be safe. But man, I miss coffee! I am so thankful that I at least have hot chocolate to start my day with!

Ronnie's List:

I'm thankful for mommas. Yesterday was my mom's birthday and I'm so lucky that she was the woman God punished with raising me. I'm not sure anybody else could have done it. My other momma, Nancy, is leaving town today and I'm sad that we're not going to have her around any longer. I am however thankful for the time we were able to spend together.

I'm thankful that Mandi and I have had the energy to nail our new routine. Granted, it hasn't been for very long, but so far so good. We're eating better, getting to the gym consistently and have been getting our run groove back. I'm hoping we can keep it up as you all know how important I think it is!

I'm thankful for our neighborhood. I was just thinking this this morning when I was walking Jezzabel. We have "green belts" that run through our hood with sidewalks weaving on them that make the most perfect walking path for our morning dog walks. It's very green and peaceful in the morning and doesn't really look or feel like the Arizona that I grew up in.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

That's the Way It's Supposed To Feel

That describes my attitude towards CF for much of my life. Whether I was short of breath, had lung pain or a bloated stomach, my response was, "well, that's the way it's supposed to feel". As I've "matured" in this CF life, I've realized that I have much more control over this disease than I used to give myself credit for. You see, maturity isn't necessarily what you know, it's what you do with what you know. I've always been up on the latest medicines and treatments offered to the CF community, but I wouldn't be the first in line to take advantage of the "latest and greatest". It's certainly not the case that I didn't care, but in a sense, I didn't want to rock the boat. I felt fine. That's pretty common for us isn't it? Feeling fine. We figure that if we're not feeling horrible, we're ahead of the game. We get used to feeling "just ok" and that quickly becomes our normal while feeling "pretty good" becomes the peak of which we think is possible and feeling "awesome" seems out of reach.

This couldn't be more true in regards to my digestive enzyme choice over the years. I was taking the same PEP (pancreatic enzyme product) for as long as I can remember and because I never had much trouble putting on or maintaining weight, I figured it was doing it's job. Problem is, a PEP should be that and so much more. While I was maintaining weight, I did my best to ignore all of the stomach pain, bloating, inconsistent stools and frequent runs to the bathroom. It had been occurring for so long I figured it was "just the way I was supposed to feel". It wasn't until my hand was forced that I ever even thought about switching enzymes. I mean, why rock the boat right?

When the new FDA regulations came out regarding PEPs, I had no choice but to hop off the sinking ship that I was sailing. I had heard rumblings in the CF community about a new enzyme hitting the market called Zenpep. After doing a little bit of research on my own, I decided to approach my doctor with the information I had uncovered and suggested that I make the switch. He agreed and my journey with Zenpep has been a good one. Instead of being bloated after every meal, I now only look pregnant if I over do it on fast food or pizza (I'd assume that falls in the category of- it's that way for everybody). My stools have become more consistent and it doesn't feel like I'm sitting on a toilet for most of the day. I'm still maintaining myweight, but like I said, that's never been an issue for me.
The biggest thing that Zenpep has done for me was made me realize that "that's NOT the way I have to feel". I got stuck in the "just the way it is" mentality and it was that little blue and white pill that snapped me back into reality. Things CAN change. You DON'T have to settle for "just ok". You DO have options when it comes to PEPs and other meds. I'm very happy that I made the switch to Zenpep and so far, there's no looking back...

...I just wish I would have woken up sooner.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"That's Not Supposed to be There!"

Warning: Detailed account of our IVF process, including detailed descriptions of procedures done to check out my reproductive health. You may want to steer clear of this post if words like "uterus," "cervix," and "speculum" freak you out!

Our first cycle of IVF is moving along beautifully. We are now 2.5 weeks in, and so far, so good. When I last posted an update, we had had some blood work done, and had just started Lupron (the drug used to shut my body down for a month before ramping it up). The Lupron shots are a piece of cake and I've been able to give them to myself most days. A few days I have totally psyched myself out and not been able to actually stick the needle in, so I had to call in my reinforcement, Ronnie. It no longer leaves a red mark and rarely itches, so I guess my body is getting used to it. I'm on Lupron for another 2.5 weeks. The only other addition in my daily routine is that I've been taking prenatal vitamins. I've had very few side effects from either. Some say on Lupron you can get hot flashes, I haven't experienced any. The only issue I've had (and I'm not sure if it's from the Lupron or the prenatal vitamins) is I've not had much of an appetite and felt a little bit nauseous. Nothing horrible, just a little bit uneasy feeling and I feel hungry, but as soon as food hits my stomach, it feels full. Also, I was prescribed a z-pack to take the 2 days before, the day of, and 2 days after the diagnostic tests I'll talk about in a second...

While we assume I don't have any infertility problems, they still have to check everything out. So last week I went to have a few more diagnostic tests done, both tests are used to look at the uterus and make sure there aren't any issues in shape and check that there are no cysts or polyps. The first test I had done was a Sonohysterogram. This one was done in my infertility doc's office. I was a little nervous about it because I read that it can be uncomfortable, but it wasn't too bad. So here's how they do it:

To perform the procedure a device called a speculum is used to open the vagina and expose the cervix. The doctor cleans and sometimes numbs the cervix (I believe my doctor just cleaned). They clean with a little foam pad looking device and you can't really feel anything but a little pressure. Then the doc inserts a small tube through the cervix and into the uterus. For me, this was easier said then done, and the worst part of the whole thing. Turns out, I have a tough cervix to get through - maybe because I'm small, but mainly because I haven't had any kids. He tried to feed the tube through - which feels like you're being pinched/stabbed in your nother-regions - several times before deciding to use a dilator, a tool that allows them to slowly make the opening just big enough to then feed the tube through. **At this point, my doctor did something that was not part of the Sonohysterogram. He did what he refers to as a mock transfer. In which he measured the depth and angle of my uterus, two things that will help him know where to put the embryos during the transfer. Additionally, he made note of the trouble getting through my cervix, so the day of the transfer he can get through my cervix with ease, not disrupting everything. Now, back to the Sonohysterogram - The tube pumps a harmless, sterile saline solution into the uterus, which expands the uterus and makes it easier to see. Then, the doctor uses the ultrasound probe in the vagina to generate an image of the expanded uterus for a few minutes. This is where we ran into a little scare. The doctor had my uterus up on the screen and said, "Wow, that's not supposed to be there," pointing to a big blob attached to the inside of my uterus. He began telling us that it looks like it could be a cyst, which would mean surgery, but they first would try to "knock it loose" with the water they were filling me with. I just about lost it. I felt a lump in my throat forming, but tried to play it cool and wait to see if they could knock it off. Luckily, after a few blasts of water, the blob just disappeared, like magic. He was very shocked, but please and confident that it was just left over tissue from my last period, so we were back on track. He took a few pictures of my uterus and after examining the image of the uterus, he removed the probe, and the saline solution drained...and drained...and drained from the uterus. They are nice enough to give you a GIANT pad (we're talking practically a diaper) to wear home to keep your car from turning into a slip and slide. All in all, it was an easy procedure, the scare of the cyst was just a scare, and the worst part was getting in through Fort Knox, I mean my cervix.

The next procedure that I had done last week was a Hysterosalphingogram, which was done at a medical imagine center. This is much like the Sonohysterogram, but instead of water, this time it's contrast and you're on what looks like a giant xray table. Once filled with liquid, they pulled this GIANT machine over my tummy, and looked at my uterus, ovaries and tubes on a screen - just like a sonogram would look, but instead of being transvaginal this time, it was over-top of me. This was pretty incredible, you could actually see my uterus, tubes and ovaries clear as day. They pumped the liquid into the uterus and watch it to make sure it fills the tubes and the ovaries, this checks for any blockages in the tubes, etc. Again, this one was quick, and relatively painless.

Both tests weren't bad, just gave me some cramping (which felt much like menstrual cramps.) We were pleased to find out that everything checked out perfectly and that we're still on track for an end of January egg fest :)

We have our next appointment on January 17th for an Ultrasound, physical exam and PreART consult with the RN. We'll update after that! Keep the process in your prayers! So far, so good!