With CF, you are more vulnerable to catching things and getting infections. Sometimes catching a simple cold from someone can put you down for days or even result in a visit to the hospital for a week or more. Someone else’s cold can be a CFer’s pneumonia. So it’s risky to be around someone who is sick or even has just a little cough.
I’ve been very fortunate. My first time was when I was 11 and my last time was when I was 12, if my memory serves me correctly. My mom would know better than me. She could tell me for sure when the last time was that I had to go to the hospital to get treated for a bug in my lungs. I remember being told right after coming home from a school skating party one night that I had to go in to the hospital. They needed to go in and run a tube through my vein that ran all the way from my arm to my lungs directly. That way they could pump meds through the tube and hit the bug directly and eradicate it. A few years after this admittance, when I entered high school, I discovered weight training and cardio. I haven’t had to be admitted to the hospital ever since. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
The only other times that I needed to go in to the hospital was for simple outpatient surgery to get rid of nasal polyps that show up every 8-10 years. I don’t even count that as a hospital admittance because it is so routine. I’m in and out in a matter of a few hours. I believe I have done this 4 different times. My last outpatient surgery was pretty funny. The doc took a few hours extra to arrive due to traffic, so I was starving before the surgery happened. I was told after the surgery to not eat anything because it would make me nauseous. So, being the type of person that always heeds the medical team’s advice to the letter, I went home and in one sitting, I ate a couple bowls of chicken noodle soup…..realized within seconds that that wasn’t gonna cut it…..continued with 5 bratwurst, a Wendy’s baconator value meal (large size), and at least 4 bowls of cereal…..reese puffs, I believe. All this while watching season one of the flash (great story and great villain, by the way). Oh, and I never felt nauseous…..not even once. You underestimate my power, hospital. *maniacal laugh*
Aside from the hospital visits in the past, there are and have been many times that I have gotten “sick.” I have “sick” in quotations because it’s the same exact kind of “sick” every time I get “sick.” It’s the same symptoms every time:
- feeling achy in my joints.
- sore and lumpy throat
- I feel overall, just crappy. Especially in my chest
- no energy. I just want to lay down
- I gotta fever…..and the only prescription is more cowbell (but seriously, i get a fever)
- the chills
- a cough
- my eyes are heavy. It feels like there’s a ring around them….if that makes sense
- I basically feel like Superman did in “Superman 4: The Quest for Peace”
That’s pretty much what happens every single time I get “sick.” I call it a CF flare up. Now, one of the obvious reasons is from being around others who are sick. One other reason I have noticed for a few years is the changing of seasons. When the outside temperature has a drastic change either up or down. That can cause me to get “sick.” When it’s 70 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next day, I will get “sick.” The same can happen the other way around. When the seasons are about to transition, I’m always preparing myself to get “sick.” For the past year or maybe a little longer, this has not been the case, though. So I’m fortunate in that.
When I do get “sick,” I have a strategy in place that I use to combat it. This strategy is nothing ground-breaking. It’s very simple stuff. I thought I would take this time to blooooog about it and maybe it can help someone else with CF when they get “sick.” So here goes:
- DRINK HOT LIQUIDS – The main liquid I drink when I’m sick is green tea and/or echinacea tea. These two teas help your immune system. Eucalyptus tea is better for the immune system, if I remember correctly. Obviously, these teas are to be heated up, and that helps to kinda soothe my chest. I don’t want to drink anything cold because it makes me cough a lot. Drinking hot liquids helps. I’ll also eat soup and drink the hot broth. The broth really helps as well. The key here is HOT and not cold. Hot helps.
- TAKE MY AEROSOLS – The big three: pulmozyne, albuterol, and salt water. I take these aerosols to hit my lungs. They do a good job of getting to do some airway clearance.
- TAKE A HOT SHOWER – this really helps with my chills and my achy joints. The warm water really helps to give my muscles a sort of “massage.” It just helps me overall to feel a little bit better.
- SLEEP A LOT – whether it be a 3 hour nap or a 12 hour coma, the best thing to help me fight the “sick” is to let my body sleep until I wake up. One thing I remember when I was in the hospital as a kid was constantly being woken up to do my meds. I don’t remember being able to just sleep. It drove me nuts: 1:00 a.m….time to do meds. 4:00 a.m……time to do meds. 10:00a.m…..time to do m LET ME SLEEEEEP!!!! Let my body rest!
- SLEEP IN AN INCLINE POSITION – This is something I tried not too long ago. It really seemed to help me cough stuff up. Laying down flat on my bed to sleep seemed to be counter-productive, so I tried sleeping on the couch in an inclined position. My lungs seemed happier. It was less stressful for them….if that makes any sense at all. It seemed to me that laying down flat with stuff in my lungs was not good. When I would wake up from nap or a big sleep, I would cough stuff up which would help me get better quicker. That helps even when I’m not sick. Every time I take a nap on my couch in an incline position, I wake up and cough stuff up. That doesn’t happen when I lay down on a flat bed and sleep.
- REPEAT THIS CYCLE – When I sleep and wake up, I start again at the beginning of the cycle at #1 and go through it again. I might modify the list depending on how I feel. For instance, I may not always take a shower or I may not always take the salt water aerosol. I won’t take a nap every time, either. It just depends on how I feel and what time of the day it is.
- *HONORABLE MENTION* I TAKE DAYQUIL – Dayquil helps to take the edge off, so I will take it if I need to. It really helps. If I’m in a situation where I can’t go and rest because of things that have to be done, I will take Dayquil and it helps me to feel at least half way decent so I can do what needs to be done.
This is the strategy of attack I use when I get “sick.” Thus far, it has helped to keep me out of the hospital. Also, my best offense is my defense: exercise, meds, and healthy eating. I hope this list helps. If you have a strategy that you use when you are “sick,” feel free to share it in the comments section. Maybe you have something that can help others as well. Until next time,