Jason’s “The Office” Themed Surprise Birthday Party

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Jason and I got married two years ago, and not long into our marriage, he found out I had never seen The Office. He was so disappointed in me and made it his mission to watch the entire series with me. So, we binge-watched when we had the chance, and I grew to love The Office almost as much as Jason.

Fast forward to the end of June of this year, 2018, and the idea to throw Jason a surprise party with The Office as the theme came to my mind. I knew I had to do it. Since Jason was turning 24, it wasn’t the traditional time to throw a surprise party. Typically, someone might wait until 25, or even 30. But I was so excited that I just couldn’t wait!

Jason and I had just bought a house and I knew my parents’ rent house (which we were living in) would be going up on the market sometime in July, so I didn’t want to host the party at our house. Plus, I wasn’t sure how I could pull that off with Jason in the house. So, I asked my mom if they wouldn’t mind hosting it at their house. Of course, she said yes and was very excited to help. Both my dad and my sister would be out of town the weekend of Jason’s birthday, so it would just be the two of us. So, I planned the party for Saturday, July 21st, the day before his birthday, and invited 70 or so of our closest friends, Jason’s family and his co-workers. I encouraged everyone to wear professional attire and/or dress up as their favorite character.

I immediately began “pinteresting” ideas for the party.

I knew I had to find an “IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY.” Banner. Thankfully, during my Pinterest adventures, I came across a blog where this wonderful person put free printables from a party they did, and there was a free banner printable! I easily printed this from our printer and taped it together, rather than spending $15 on one from Amazon.

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I purchased duct tape, white paper crepe streamers and black, brown and grey balloons from Amazon as the main decorations.

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I made sure and print out some of the best memes from The Office to post around the house and printed out memes to go with the themed snacks we would be serving.

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There were many, many snack ideas. I even had some snacks that I ended up crossing off the list last minute because I just had so many. I ended up choosing to get a cake made at Market Street that was as plain as could be and just said “IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY.” In light brown icing. The actual cake was half vanilla and half red velvet (Jason’s favorite).

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I purchased M&M’s to go in Kevin’s Jar of M&M’s, cheese balls from Michael’s time owning his own paper company, Angela’s Double Fudge Brownies, Dunder Muffins (mini blueberry muffins), pretzels (Free Pretzel Day), snack-size Kit Kat bars and last but not least, a stapler in lime Jell-O (Jason’s favorite flavor of Jell-O). For beverages, we had water, Mexican Lemonade, and Virgin Orange Vod-Juice-Ka. We also had a separate Break Room, which was just the coffee bar. I purchased decaf coffee pods for the Keurig and laid out disposable coffee cups, creamer and sugar.

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I couldn’t figure out a great way to make the memes stand by the snack they “belonged” to without having to purchase thicker paper. But one day, I was at the Dollar General looking for a stapler (to put in Jell-O, obviously), and I came across a pack of Manilla Folders for $1. I had the idea to put the memes on a folder and stand them by the snack they were referencing, and it worked!

I used pencils, pens, calculators, paper clips and copy paper that my mom and I both already had as decorations for the table of snacks. My mom had some copy paper boxes that we used as other decorations and I bought a letter board at Target for $14.99 to put one of Michael Scott’s quotes on (I had been wanting one of these boards anyway).

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One of the things I am most proud of is the “Serenity by Jan” candles that were at the party. This was a very last minute idea that I had while at Dollar General (where all of my grand ideas come from, apparently). I bought two candles for $1 each and printed off the Serenity by Jan logo and taped it on the candles. They were a hit!

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I purchased black paper plates, napkins, cups and plastic forks from Amazon for around $35 and had extra duct tape available near the cups with a sharpie so everyone could write their names on the duct tape and then place it on their cup.

I had purchased a card from Etsy to put out near the cake and had also purchased a “World’s Best Boss” coffee mug from Amazon for Jason to use as his drinking cup during the night.

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I also planned for us to play Office Olympics, with winners receiving Dundie’s (small trophies I purchased from Amazon for about $10-12) instead of yogurt lids. The first game we played was “Modified” Flonkerton. We didn’t have any copy paper boxes filled with copy paper, so I borrowed a few copy paper boxes from a friend and from my mom and had two players each put their feet directly in the boxes (each player got two boxes-one for each foot). We played outside where I had laid two of my mom’s “laying out” cushions in the yard as an obstacle course. Each player started on opposite sides and was expected to make a full figure-eight through the obstacle course. The fastest person won and moved on to the next round. We had three rounds total, and the winner got a Dundie. This was probably the most fun to watch!

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The second game we played was Waste Basket-ball. I bought two round trash cans from Dollar General ($3 each) and grabbed 20 pages of spiral notebook paper. I crumpled the pieces of paper into balls and each player got 10 balls. We found the best way to play this was to see who could get the most balls into the basket, so each player got 10 tries. The winner moved on to the next round, with three rounds total and the winner received a Dundie.

The third and last game we played was one that I titled Cup-O-Joe, because there wasn’t a name for it in The Office when they played it. We had two players who each got a coffee cup full of water. We had them use the same obstacle course as those who played Modified Flonkerton, but they had to make two figure-eights as fast as they could. The winner was whoever had the most water in their cup at the end (the birthday boy was the judge), and they got to move on to the next round, with three rounds total and the winner received a Dundie.

Jason got to give a Dundie to the person who he thought was “best-dressed”, and the other Dundie’s were available to anyone who wanted to approach Jason and give him a Dundie for being a good friend, etc.

I spent two and half days at my parents decorating and preparing for the party. Jason thought I was hanging out with my mom, as she had just come back from a week-long cruise. We do spend a lot of time together, so he didn’t think anything of it. The day of the party, I actually had a baby shower that I attended that morning, and then went straight to Wal-Mart to pick up the snacks I had pre-ordered (thank you Wal-Mart Grocery pick-up!) and then to Market Street to get ice and the cake. I spent the rest of the day finishing the decorating, deciding where all of the snacks would go and putting on the finishing touches.

Jason isn’t much of a celebrator. So when I had been asking him what he wanted to do for his birthday, it was always “I don’t know”, or “I don’t care”. Eventually, he decided we could go out to eat on Saturday night to this favorite restaurant, Triple J’s, which wasn’t going to be open on his birthday, and then we could just do nothing and “relax” (his favorite) on his actual birthday. So, we decided to go eat early, around 5:30 PM, and then head to my parent’s house, where my mom was making him a dessert. I told him that some friends had invited us to come hang out at their house that night so we would have to leave my parents by 8 or so, and he agreed. He had literally no idea.

We went to eat and had a great meal. Unfortunately, we were done by 6:30 (I tried really hard to drag it out), and I had told everyone to arrive between 6:45-7 PM and we would be there around 7:15 PM. So I told Jason I had to go to the bathroom, with a look in my eyes that he knew we would need to go home. When you have Cystic Fibrosis, going to the bathroom in your own bathroom is a BIG deal and Jason knows it. So I sat on the toilet lid for a good fifteen minutes and then we headed to my parent’s house.

We had pre-planned for my mom to call me on our way over and tell us to park in the driveway (which is behind the house), so that Jason wouldn’t see the MANY cars in front of the house. So we did. I taped a meme of Dwight and Jim hanging party decorations on the outside of the garage door for him to see before we went inside. He saw and turned and looked at me and said, “What did you do?”. Then he heard people inside and as he opened the door he said to me, “Did you throw a surprise party??”.

Y’all. He was SO surprised.

He walked in to everyone yelling “Surprise!” and everyone telling him Happy Birthday.

I had made him, my mom and myself a t-shirt last minute-I purchased $2 white t-shirts from Hobby Lobby and transfer paper from Office Depot for about $21 and transferred the Dunder Mifflin logo onto Jason’s shirt, “Assistant to the Regional Manager” on my shirt, and “World’s Best Boss” onto my mom’s shirt. Jason loved it.

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We started with cake and opened up the snack table. The rest of the night we played Office Olympics and hung out with our friends and family. It was a blast and I loved celebrating my sweet and deserving husband! If anyone wants me to plan their next party, I think this may be my long-lost calling. I’m all about the details!

Special thank you to my mom, who not only hosted the party, but cleaned and helped put out snacks/drinks while I was away at dinner with Jason. Also, thank you so much to everyone who came and celebrated Jason. We were honored to have everyone there!

 

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Low Ferritin and a Life Update

It’s that time again… time for an update on what’s been going on in my life recently, as well as how my most recent clinic visit went! I’ll start with the clinic visit.

This past Wednesday, Jason and I made the 4 hour trek to Cook Children’s in Fort Worth for my three month check-up. We ate in the hospital cafeteria like we always do, and ordered the same meal we get every time (we are both creatures of habit, if you can’t tell). After we checked in, we waited in the waiting room for about 15 minutes to be called back. Typically, we are the only ones in the waiting room, with maybe one other person. But on this day, there were FOUR other people with CF in the waiting room. It was crazy! How did I know they had CF? We were all wearing masks and doing our best to sit 6 feet away from each other-lol. Plus, I listened to some of them talk to the receptionist and I could tell from their voice that they had CF (some medications cause voice changes, and it is super common in CF patients-it is a very specific, raspy sound). Jason and I both agreed we had never seen that many people with CF in the same room together due to infection control.

Once I was called back, they did the typical, weight/height/blood pressure/oxygen checks. My weight was stable (or so I thought) at 112 pounds. Blood pressure and oxygen were normal. Then I was taken back to the exam room where one of my nurses, Deborah, came in to get all the basic information from me. At this point, typically a respiratory therapist (RT) comes to get me to perform my PFT, but no one showed up.

Soon, one of my dietitians came in to speak with me instead. If you’ll remember from a previous post, I typically have a lot of problems with my GI tract (remember when I attempted to go vegan? Let’s all have a good laugh right about now!). So we talked about how everything was going with that. Thankfully, it has been much better! The severe stomach cramps stopped about a month or so after my last appointment in April. I haven’t had to take any Miralax for constipation in about 2 months, although I’ve come close! I attribute this to the extra fiber I have had in my diet with more fruit being in season (I really love me some peaches, nectarines, cherries and grapes when they are in season!). I’ve also done really well at drinking at least 80 ounces of water a day, plus any other additional fluid I get from sweet tea, gatorade, a coke now and then, and even my feeding tube formula. This was something my dietitian really wanted me to work on-not only to stay hydrated-but to help with the constipation as well. I’ve also done well at working out 3-4 times a week, which also helps with constipation.

One thing my dietitian did mention was that she noticed my weight was down. This confused me because at my last appointment in April, my weight was 112 lbs. So I brought this up to her. She said that it was actually 112.6 lbs and today I was 112.2 lbs… this frustrated me, but I told her that I had actually had a cold/sinus infection for a week and half, and I had just gotten over that about a week and half ago. When I have a cold/sinus infection, I don’t really have much of an appetite. She didn’t seem to care. I also told her that since then, I haven’t really been wanting breakfast (she was not excited to hear that, which I knew would be the case). But I also told her that I eat the rest of the day, and Jason agreed (his exact words were, “She eats literally all day long”). So my dietitian wanted to know what I snack on. I started listing off my typical snacks… chocolate pudding, pretzels, beef jerky, popcorn, pickles, cheese cubes, pepperonis, fruits/veggies, hummus…then I realized she wasn’t going to like my answers because most of the options are not high in calories. I was right. She was glad to hear it was a lot of variety, but told me I needed to work on adding more calories. I tried to explain that I add calories more easily when I cook, but she didn’t seem to care, unfortunately.

Now, I understand that she was doing her job. I do need to eat more calories. However, I got a feeding tube 3 years ago because eating was stressful for me and I don’t typically enjoy high calorie food options. I have to be in the mood for peanut butter. I don’t like sweets (except ice cream, chocolate pudding and Dunkin’ Donuts donut fries). I just really love fruits and veggies by themselves. But if I am in the mood to dunk my favorite foods in high calorie dips, then I do it!

After receiving my feeding tube, my weight has been higher than ever and it’s STABLE. That is HUGE for a person with CF! The fact that I had a cold and a very poor appetite for over a week (I lost close to 10 pounds) and was still able to gain it back in time for my appointment was a big accomplishment for me. So all things considered, I’m happy with my weight and can’t say I 100% agreed with my dietitian on this one. But that’s okay. Like I said, she was just doing her job. I will say, since my appointment, I’ve been trying to choose higher calorie options when I have the choice (mainly choosing between what ice cream flavor to have, lol).

I think I’ll choose to just eat my favorite snacks and continue to tube feed 5-6 nights out of the week because it works for ME and I don’t feel stress with food, but instead, I enjoy it (like we all should!).

I brought up switching my enzymes with her as our last topic of conversation. I take Pertzye enzymes-the 16,000 Lipase Unit capsules. Recently, my pharmacy called to let me know that a new version, the 24,000 Lipase Unit capsules were now available. I knew that this meant I could take LESS enzymes with my food. To someone with CF, it’s always exciting to have the possibility to take less pills, because we already have to take so many. Plus, since we have to take enzymes with all of our food, and we eat all the time, taking less is definitely ideal (or none at all, but that’s not fun for anyone!). So, we did some math and figured out how many capsules I would need to take with high fat meals, snacks and before and after tube feeding. Hopefully, there are no issues! I was given a sample bottle, and so far, so good! The new enzymes are slightly bigger, but that was to be expected since they contain more lipase units in each capsule. See below for pics comparing my old enzymes with my new ones!

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The new 24,000 Lipase Unit Pertzye Enzymes!

 

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Left: one 24,000 Lipase Unit Pertzye Enzyme; Right: one 16,000 Lipase Unit Pertzye Enzyme

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7 16,000 lipase unit enzymes (what I would take with a really high fat meal)

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5 24,000 Lipase Unit Pertzye enzymes (what I will now take with a very high fat meal!)

Next, I was finally called to do my PFT. We always get three tries. The first two tries, I blew 96%, but my third and final try, I blew 97%-same as my last appointment!

It’s possible that I can contribute my stable weight and PFT to Symdeko, the new gene therapy med for those of us with the Double Delta F508 gene mutation. I have been on this now for almost three months. I will also say (and I am not proud of this), I have been lazy when it comes to my treatments these last few months. Since working part time, my schedule is not the same every day and I’m used to doing my treatments with my “work day” schedule. It is still taking some getting used to, but I am working on it.

Next, my NP, Cindy, and Dr. Burk came in. After my last appointment in April, I took two weeks to fill out a sleep journal and about 10 other pages of information on my sleep. Even Jason had a page to fill out-things like if I snore, sleep walk/talk, etc. So at this appointment, they brought in the paperwork and Dr. Burk said it definitely looks like something is going on with my sleep. He asked a few more questions to see if I had Restless Leg Syndrome, which I don’t, and then Cindy told me that my Ferritin levels were pretty low. My Ferritin level was 44, and Dr. Burk told me it should be between 150-200, preferably closer to 200.

Ferritin is a protein in the body that stores Iron and releases it when our bodies need it. So if Ferritin is low, Iron levels can deplete quickly and an iron deficiency can develop. This then, can cause unexplained fatigue. So what could be causing the low ferritin levels? Not consuming enough iron can cause it (I highly doubt that’s my problem), but conditions that affect intestinal absorption can also cause low ferritin levels (more likely for me).

So, the solution? Taking oral Iron. Yes, another pill! When taking Iron, it’s important that it is taken with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to help with absorption. Some iron pills come with ascorbic acid in it already, so you don’t have to worry about that. But, it’s also important to avoid any alkaline (dairy) products with the iron and 4 hours after consuming the iron so it is better absorbed.

Cindy told me it’s very important to take the Iron right in the middle of a meal so it doesn’t make me nauseous. Dr. Burk told me to buy several small bottles of different brands and try each one, one week at a time and see which one affects my GI system less.

I was excited, because this is a possible answer to my constant fatigue! It will be hard, because I love dairy products and rely on dairy for the majority of my calories. But, I think it will be easiest for me to take the Iron with my lunch, and hopefully not worry about the dairy.

I also took the opportunity to be honest with Dr. Burk and Cindy and let them know that I have not been compliant with my Tobi Podhaler. They asked why, which I knew they would, and I let them know that the medication makes me cough incessantly and Jason always says it sounds like I’m dying. Lol! Jason was sitting in the exam room with me and said, “It’s pretty bad!”

Dr. Burk told me to always ask how I can make my treatments better if they aren’t working for me. I love that he encourages honesty! And now that I’ve been honest, they have offered me another solution that could work for me-there is an inhaled version, rather than these capsules filled with powder that irritate my lungs. Yay! So I’ll be trying that in the near future instead.

So overall, this was a great appointment. No blood work, good results and possible answers to things I have been struggling with! I’ll go back on Halloween for hopefully, an even better appointment!

Now, for an update on what’s been going on in my life recently.

I stopped working for Epic Medical Solutions in late May, and started working part time at UMC, the hospital I was working at previously. I have LOVED being back! The dietitians there are some of my really good friends and they make working at UMC a blast. Plus, I feel like a dietitian again, and not a sales person.

I’ve also been given the awesome opportunity to teach part time at Idalou High School, which I am so excited about! I’ll be teaching Medical Terminology and Health Science Theory. I have never taught before, but anyone who knows me well, knows that teaching has been a long time dream of mine. “Long time” meaning, since I was a little girl. I was the girl that asked for school/teaching supplies for Christmas-haha!

I’ve also opened my own private practice-Joyfully Eating-where I work with clients to better their health and lifestyle. I try to do what my clients request, but I like to teach Mindful Eating over any kind of diet and even over eating less calories. I don’t have a lot of clients right now, but I’m also not really trying to grow my business right now since I’m about to start teaching and have no idea what I’m doing!

But I have to say, it has been SO nice working part time this Summer. I have been able to rest and feel like a human most days. I have been reading more, and spending time taking care of me, which I don’t normally do. But it was needed. The nice thing is, even when I start teaching this fall, I will still be able to take care of me, and also do something I’ve always dreamed of doing.

Another exciting thing is that Jason and I just bought our first home! We have been renting, and were asked to find another place to live by March/April of 2019. Jason and I hadn’t planned on moving until maybe end of 2019 or even 2020, but we had peace about this and felt the Lord was pushing us to fulfill our dream of buying a home earlier than we had planned! We started officially looking at homes in early June, and by the second week of June, we had a house! The market in Lubbock has been INSANE, so we found and put an offer on our house within 12 HOURS of it being on the market. There was even a bidding war, and we were chosen because we could be flexible with when we could move in. The family living in the house now are building a home that is not done until end of September, and they are expecting their third child around the same time as our closing date ( we close tomorrow, July 31st!). So we do not move in until October 1st.

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Jason turned 24 a little over a week ago, and I threw him a surprise party that was The Office themed! He was so surprised and had a blast!

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This week, we are headed to Santa Fe, NM to celebrate our second wedding anniversary! It’s honestly really hard to believe we have already been married for two years. Time flies when you’re having fun! It’s been a joy to be married to my best friend.

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Well, that’s what has been going on with us. Please pray for me during these next few weeks as I start taking Iron and try to figure out this teaching thing. Pray for Jason and I as we prepare to move into our new home in a couple of months and that things will go smoothly for us!

I also just wanted to say that recently, I’ve been made aware that there are many of you that follow my blog that I have never even met. I just want to say thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read my posts and pray for me and my family. I appreciate each of you so much!

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Vegan: The Good, The Bad and The Bad

Well friends, most of you have probably been wondering how my vegan journey has been going this past week. Let me tell you, it’s not.

I was SO excited to try going vegan! I read a post from a fellow CFer via the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which you can read here, and it was really encouraging. If you know anything about what I’ve been going through CF-wise recently, you know I am tired all time and my digestion is terrible. These two things are what going vegan was supposed to help with.

What is “vegan”, you may ask? Basically, it means no animal products. Some may call it a plant-based diet. No meat, cheese, milk or dairy of any kind, no eggs, fish…you get it. Of course, there are vegans who eat eggs or fish, these are called ovo-vegetarians and pescatarians, respectively.

Since I have CF, I have to get a lot of calories, fat and protein. Thankfully, I’m a dietitian and have a good idea of where to get these things from. Avocados, nuts, nut butters, quinoa and nutritional yeast, to name a few.

As a dietitian, I’m not a fan of any diets. None. I do think some of them can help you lose weight quickly, but it’s not healthy and most are not sustainable. I think you have foods that you eat usually, sometimes and rarely. So for me, going vegan felt like I was going on a diet. Which of course, I did not like.

However, I thought, even if it doesn’t work out, I can at least maybe feel like what it would be like to go on a diet, and I can relate more to my clients/patients.

I told Jason my plan, and he immediately asked, “Do I have to go vegan too?”

I am not a mean wife, so I told him he did not have to, he may just have to cook his own meat, which he agreed to.

So last Saturday evening, we made the menu for the week like we normally do and Sunday after church, we headed to the grocery store. ePA3MF7HTJSU1s3OfbDXyw

Y’all, I was SO pumped! We bought fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, nutritional yeast, chickpeas, tons of beans, and several other items. We only spent ~$124, which is typically what we spend anyway, give or take. We even went to Sprouts afterwards and I was able to find some vegan cheese, vegan “butter” and even…vegan chocolate pudding!! If you know me, you know I LOVE chocolate pudding, so this was exciting for me!

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**Spoiler Alert: vegan chocolate pudding is chunky and gross.

Now, I’ll take you day by day and tell you what I ate.

SUNDAY:

  • Breakfast: We had not gone to the grocery store at this point, so I had my usual Chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast with 10 oz. Fairlife and 10 oz. Whole Cow’s Milk
  • Lunch: We decided to finish off our leftovers from the day before-chicken and veggies
  • Dinner: First Vegan meal!! Jason grilled corn on the cob and zucchini, and I heated up refried beans (vegan) and corn tortillas. We had tostadas and they were delicious! Even Jason really loved this meal.

MONDAY:

  • Breakfast: You probably saw my facebook/instagram post of my green smoothie that matched my scrubs…lol. It was made with spinach, almond milk, avocados and pineapple. It was GROSS. But I drank most of it to have something higher in fat to take my Symdeko medication with.

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  • Lunch: I was in the process of smashing some chickpeas to make vegan “tuna” salad, all the while trying not to puke, when my mom called. God bless her. She says, “Would you like some vegan Chick-fil-a?” I almost cried. “YES!” I cried. I threw the smashed chickpeas away. Didn’t even get a picture. So gross. I had nuggets and fries instead.

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  • Dinner: I’m honestly not sure why I thought this would be good. But I wanted to make something Jason could enjoy. So I made vegan broccoli and cheese soup. How? Cashews. We blended veggies and cashews and some other yummy items in a blender. Yea. Then stuck some broccoli in it and called it broccoli and cheese soup. GAG. Jason actually ate a whole bowl and called it “not bad”. I had one taste and I just couldn’t. Karli, my younger sister came over and she had cereal for dinner. We threw the rest out.

TUESDAY:

  • Breakfast: Jason and I tried a new smoothie that a friend had sent me. It contained almond milk, ice, 1 banana, 1/2 avocado, raw cacao, almond butter and flaxseed. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either.
  • Lunch: I didn’t have time to cook anything, so I went to Chipotle and ordered a salad with sofritas- Chipotle’s tofu. It was okay. Would have been better with chicken lol.
  • Dinner: We had already planned to go to Alamo Drafthouse to see Ocean’s 8 for date night, and I was not about to be vegan here! We love their loaded fries and it was Taco Tuesday. So I participated without guilt!

WEDNESDAY:

  • Breakfast: No more smoothies. I stuck to an apple with peanut butter and it was fantastic!
  • Lunch: I didn’t have anything to take for lunch, and I was just about done with the vegan thing, so I had chicken tortilla soup from UMC’s cafe (it is SO good) and veggies.
  • Dinner: We were supposed to have black bean enchiladas…but I still wasn’t feeling vegan, so we decided to go to Timeless Cafe and use our Groupon (really good food if you haven’t been!) I got honey mustard pork chops and a zucchini/corn medley. Oh, and we got mozzarella sticks. YUM.

THURSDAY:

  • Breakfast: My trusty apple and peanut butter.
  • Lunch: Leftovers from Timeless Cafe and veggies and fruit!
  • Dinner: I had a work dinner at Funky Door and I ordered the Chardonnay Chicken. I had hummus with veggies and their delightful cheese sticks as an appetizer, plus chocolate fondue for dessert.

FRIDAY:

  • Breakfast: You already know. Apple and Peanut Butter.
  • Lunch: Jason made me a delicious salad with spinach, sunflower seeds, shredded cheese and chicken. I added grapes. Plus balsamic vinaigrette. I also munched on veggies and fruit.
  • Dinner: Jason and I went to Sonic around 4:30 because we really wanted a late afternoon snack. I had mozzarella sticks and we shared a large order of chili-cheese tater tots with jalepenos. I ended up taking a 3 hour nap and not having dinner. I did drink a tall glass of hot chocolate later in the evening to take my Symdeko with.

SATURDAY:

  • Breakfast: officially given up on being vegan.Went back to my regular carnation instant breakfast with Fairlife and cow’s milk.
  • Lunch: Jason made chicken, hashbrowns and veggies.
  • Dinner: Jason made steak, sweet potatoes and a large spinach salad.

 

So there you have it. Honestly, it may seem like I didn’t try very hard. I think I could have tried harder. But really, I love dairy products SO much and I rely on them for the majority of my calories, fat and protein. It was so hard to stay away from cheese and chocolate pudding. I do really like almond milk though.

How did I feel during the week?

I probably can’t give a good answer to this since there was not a single day that I went completely vegan. I did have regular bowel movements, but I’ve had regular BM’s for a few weeks before trying this. I still had gas and some bloating, but not much. The fatigue? Honestly, I think that’s mainly related to the sleep disorder my pulmonologist thinks I may have.

So as you can see, being vegan is not for me. I’m proud of myself for attempting it and going vegan for at least every breakfast and trying some new things. I’m really proud of Jason for unintentionally going vegan with me when I did. But it was not worth it for me.

I don’t crave vegan foods. Except for fruits and veggies, which is great, but they don’t have calories or protein! I noticed my appetite decreased and I didn’t eat as much this past week. I felt nauseas every day and even had headaches every day because I wasn’t eating enough.

Obviously, this wasn’t for me and I’m okay with that.

I’d also like to point out that I still tube fed every night, and my formula is not vegan. Vegan formulas are available, but the maker of these formulas have made another formula that I have tried and the fiber source did not like me. Lol.

I love cheese and dairy products and that’s okay. I really love chocolate pudding and I’m so glad to have that back in my life! And hey, if I decide to have some vegan meals in my life, cool! But as far as making it an every day, all the time thing? No thank you.

I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to everyone that was so supportive and encouraging. I got so many texts, comments and instagram messages and I was truly grateful and overwhelmed. Y’all are seriously so awesome!

The One Where My GI Tract Hates Me

Hey friends! It’s that time where I update you on my most recent clinic appointment and let you know what’s been going on in my life recently.

Jason drove me to Fort Worth this past Wednesday for my first CF Clinic appointment of the year. I worked pretty much the whole way up while Jason drove and I annoyed him with my music choices 😉

We always eat lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Their pasta is literally so, so good. We didn’t have much time to eat lunch in the cafeteria because we had a late start that morning.

For the past month, since two days before I received my new G-J tube, I have had these really terrible stomach cramps. I get them randomly, but they can last anywhere from 10 minutes to hours on end. I can’t figure out if there is anything that triggers it, but with the cramps comes really bad diarrhea. Yea, it’s fantastic.

So of course, the night before we head to Fort Worth, the cramps hit. When I wake up the next morning, they are still there. I’m in terrible pain and can barely bring myself to get dressed. But I finally do, and before I knew it, I was throwing up. I have no idea why or what caused that, either. But after I was done, I felt better and the cramps were gone, so we left for Fort Worth with a puke bag in hand!

I managed to eat almost all of my lunch (I had to finish in the exam room) and was still feeling good. They took my weight, blood pressure and oxygen levels-all were great. My oxygen was 98% and my weight was up 2 pounds from 109 to 111. Woohoo!

My nurse, Candace, came in and asked how everything had been going. We went over current medications and I told her all about my stomach cramps. We also talked about a co-pay assistance program that I had been trying to get on for my Tobi Podhaler. This is a medication that I take for 28 days every other month to keep lung infections at bay. Well, I called my pharmacy mid-January to get it for February and the co-pay was a whopping $3,000. Yep. That’s THREE zero’s that you see. So I said “No, thank you” and told them I would wait to order until I could get the co-pay assistance. Well it finally went through 2 weeks later and I just got my Tobi today (Saturday)-thank you Candace for ensuring everything went through okay!

After speaking with Candace, I went and did my Pulmonary Lung Function Test (PFT). I put the nose clips on my nose and put the hand piece in my mouth. I breathed normal for a few breaths, took a deep breath, and blew out as hard as I could and for as long as I could. When I finally breathed in, I needed that air so bad. I coughed until my lungs hurt-what a work out! I then proceeded to do that two more times. Each time, I got 95%. My last PFT in November was 99%, so it had gone down some, but 95% is still pretty good!

While we waited for my dietitian to come in and speak with me, I made sure to cough up a small amount of mucus in my “mucus cup” so they could do a sputum culture and check for anything growing in my lungs we didn’t already know about.

Esther, my dietitian, came in and we talked all about my cramps, constipation and my issues with remembering my enzymes.

So, here’s some information that you may not have known previously about CF. If not, it will be a refresher 🙂

For a large percentage of us living with CF, our pancreatic ducts are blocked by mucus, so the pancreatic enzymes that are normally secreted in you when you eat, are not secreted in me. Therefore, I have a hard time digesting food and getting the nutrients I really need (one of the reasons why it’s hard for us to gain weight). So, we take synthetic enzymes with high-fat meals and snacks to help us get those nutrients and calories.

I will admit to anyone that I have always been terrible at taking my enzymes. ALWAYS. But I never seem to really have the issues that come with forgetting to take them. Symptoms include: greasy stools, gas, bloating, stomach cramps, etc. Sounds so fun, right? Well again, I don’t really have these issues, otherwise I would probably remember to take them!

So when I tell my dietitian that I’m having these issues, and I explain the enzyme thing, she assumes it’s because I don’t take the enzymes. But like I said, I’ve been terrible at taking enzymes for 24 years. We decide maybe I am using a “bad” bottle of enzymes. They could have been stored improperly before I got them, so she suggests switching to a new bottle. We also discuss ways to help me remember my enzymes. So far, it has worked! I keep baggies of enzymes on top of plates, bowls, and cups to help me remember and I haven’t missed any doses so far. So maybe we will see some weight gain as well!

We also discuss a new probiotic. I take culturelle on the reg to help regulate my GI tract. So I told her I feel like I’m wasting my money since it doesn’t seem to be helping. She agreed it could not be helping. So she gave me a sample of a new probiotic that has strains specifically for those of us living with CF! I’m excited to see if they help or not.

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We also discussed my water intake. I typically drink 30-60 ounces of water, plus about 30 ounces of other fluids during the day. She wants me drinking at least 80 ounces of total fluids during the day, so I am working on that! I already carry a water bottle around with me wherever I am, I am just being more conscious of drinking from it.

The last thing we discussed was my constipation issues that I have had for a few months now. If you haven’t noticed, GI issues are a common thing for those of us with CF. Like for reals. I have been taking a stool softener for a couple of months, and it seems it has just stopped working. I was afraid she would ask me to start drinking Miralax… and she did. I haven’t tried it yet, but I bought some today so we’ll see… yay.

Then, Dr. Burk and Cyndy, my NP came in. The first thing they asked me was whether or not I have had the flu. I told them I had not! They were excited to hear that and said that literally every other CF patient they have seen has had it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I don’t get it!

Dr. Burk was not at my last appointment when I was having the major breathing issues, so we pulled up my CT scan and Dr. Burk showed it to Jason and I. It was so cool!!

I got to see the veins in my lungs and what the contrast had shown was going on. He noted a small node on my left lung, and says he’s not really concerned about it, but that we would take another look at it at my yearly appointment in April. He was very happy with my weight gain and my PFT, and he agreed with my dietitian’s recommendations, so he said, “Okay! See you in three months!”

Jason and I grabbed our stuff and headed to check out. The only Wednesday Dr. Burk was available in April was the 25th-the day after my 25th birthday on the 24th. Since it is my yearly appointment, Jason and I will have to drive down on my birthday on the 24th and spend the night since I will have my Oral Glucose Tolerance Test early the next morning. So we have decided we will make it a birthday trip and eat at some of my favorite places while we are there.

One thing we didn’t get a lot of answers on at my appointment was my recent increase in coughing at night. I wake myself up during the night coughing more often than not recently, and not only that, but it wakes Jason up as well.

**Side Note: If you don’t know my husband well, he is a grumpy person when he hasn’t had his 8 hours of sleep, so the coughing isn’t greaaat for our marriage, but he is taking it well 😛

Anyway, I have also been working out 2-4 times a week recently with Tone It Up, so I’m hoping this helps me get more mucus out since I cough more when I work out. Please be praying the coughing goes away soon so we can sleep through the night!

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For those who have asked, I have almost had my new GJ Tube a month, and everything is going really well! I have had zero reflux with the new tube and the new reflux medication I am on, and I am still hungry during the day. I did have a clogged tube a couple of weeks ago, so I am learning how to better care for my tube and, in turn, help my feeding tube patients better care for their tubes!

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Pulmonary Embolism? No Thank You.

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Hello again friends and fam.

This is a bittersweet post. If you follow me on social media, you know I’ve been having some trouble lately.

Two weeks ago from exactly today,  I was in Amarillo for work. My co-worker and I were attending an open house for a Pediatric Hospice center. It was such a cute place! This hospice center was in what used to be a bed and breakfast. We were on the tour and I had just climbed a flight of stairs when I couldn’t catch my breath. I stood there, huffing and puffing, and eventually had to bring out my Xopenex inhaler to help me catch my breath.

I honestly didn’t think too much about it. However, over the weekend, my shortness of breath became worse and it turned into chest pain and chest tightness. So Monday morning, I called my doctor’s office and told my nurse what was going on.

It wasn’t too long after that, my Nurse Practitioner, Cyndy called me and wanted me to start doing my treatments twice a day instead of once a day (which I had already started doing over the weekend). Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving), she called back and asked if I had started on Spiriva, a bronchodilator that can help reduce flare-up symptoms. I said I had not. Apparently, they forgot to tell me they had called it in to my pharmacy. Haha, oops! So I picked it up and started it that day.

I gave Spiriva a few days to work, and when it didn’t, I texted my Nurse Prac and told her I wasn’t doing any better. My cough had increased, my breaths were shallow and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest. So, my NP called in a small dose of Prednisone, a steroid to help treat inflammation. We are always nervous for me to try new meds because I am SO sensitive to them. But, I was kind of excited to start the prednisone because I had noticed my appetite had decreased some and I knew steroids can cause weight gain and the munchies-all good things for me!

Sunday night, I was sitting on the couch doing my treatments. During my treatments, I felt like I had just run a marathon. I was breathing very fast and was unable to catch my breath for approximately 30 minutes. I became very concerned and knew that my NP had told me to go to the ER if it got worse. So, I called my mom in tears and told her what was going on. We decided I would not go to the ER; they would probably only give me a breathing treatment and I wouldn’t get any sleep there. Well, I ended up not getting any sleep anyway. Apparently, prednisone causes insomnia. Because I had received the steroid that afternoon and took it as soon as I got it, I was awake alllll night. It got better when I took the Prednisone in the morning 🙂

Monday, I had a dentist appointment for a cleaning and a filling. I walked in and my dental hygienist commented that I didn’t look like I was feeling good. I told her what had been going on, and she was great to inform my dentist that I was having trouble breathing. Before the filling, we checked my oxygen levels. They were hovering around 94%, which is still pretty normal, but for me, I am normally at 99 or 100%. My blood pressure and heart rate were high as well. All of this told me that my heart and lungs were working harder to get me the oxygen I was needing.

So, they put the nitrous mask on, and I do NOT like feeling out of it. Eventually, because I was laying down and was already having trouble breathing, it got too much for me and I started to hyperventilate some. Before he started the filling, my dentist took the nitrous off and gave me oxygen instead. This allowed me to calm down and bring my oxygen levels back up. It was not a fun experience.

I then let my NP know that I was still not doing well. We decided to wait until the next day (Tuesday) to see if I needed to come into clinic on Wednesday.

Well, Tuesday came around and I felt worse. So we decided it would be better for me to come into clinic and let them see me before the holidays.

**Side note: Jason and I bought a new car Tuesday night! I loved having my Toyota 4Runner, but we bought it when I was working at UMC every day. Since having my new job these last couple of months, I am in my car a lot more and have learned just how terrible gas mileage the 4Runner gets. So, we decided to trade it in for a car with better gas mileage. ENTER my new 2017 Nissan Murano! I LOVE it and am so grateful the Lord allowed us to get a car that will better fit me and my new job.

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Wednesday morning, my dad came and picked me up at 6:30 am. He got to drive my new car to Fort Worth (he said he really liked it). We arrived and ate lunch at the hospital cafeteria (I love their food). I then went for my chest x-ray. Afterwards, I went into my appointment.

My oxygen was 98%, but my heart rate and blood pressure were high again. My weight was 109.5 pounds, which was stable from when I was at clinic last month (THANK YOU TUBE FEEDING). Now, the next test really blew me away (quite literally, LOL). My lung function test was 99%. WHAT?! My last one in October was 98%. I couldn’t believe it. With all of the issues I had been having, I was sure it was going to be 20-30% lower. I started crying and my respiratory therapist had to calm me down. I told her what had been going on and how I had just been really nervous for my PFT.

I took a short nap while I waited for the doctor and my NP to come in. I was seeing Dr. Gilbey because Dr. Burk was not in the clinic that day. I had seen Dr. Gilbey before and I think he is a great doctor! So, when he had heard mine and Cyndy’s perspectives on what had been going on with me, we started talking about what to do and what could be causing it all.

Turns out my chest x-ray looked good, but he wanted me to get a contrast CT Angiogram done to check for blood clots (pulmonary embolism). All my symptoms lined up with this, so that was scary!

He also said it could be caused from aspiration (inhaling food into my lungs). I told him the issues I have with reflux and keeping my head of bed elevated when I tube feed at night (it is necessary to keep your head elevated at least 30 degrees to decrease the risk of aspiration). So, it could be possible that I refluxed and then aspirated on it and that caused my airways to be inflamed and caused the increased cough as well.

The third possible cause is the awesome Lubbock wind/weather. It’s Ginning season, so there could be an allergen that I inhaled that is also causing the symptoms. However, I’m not having any other allergy symptoms at all, so we didn’t really think this was the true cause.

So, I headed down to radiology to get the angiogram completed.

After registering, my dad and I were taken to a waiting room where I filled out some paperwork. A nurse came by to get me and we went to another room for him to place the IV where the contrast would go in.

Now, most of you probably know that I am an extremely hard stick when it comes to needles. So I let everyone know that and I make sure and tell them they are only allowed to poke me in my hands because there is nothing for them in my arms. Most of the time they try to argue with me and they want to look at my arms anyway. Hello, I’ve been doing this my whole life, I think I know best! So, I picked out a vein in my right hand and told the nurse he could use that one. He decided he would use a cool tool called VeinViewer that would allow us to see my veins! (pics below)

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He ended up using the vein I had originally picked out 🙂

He was good at his job though, because he got the IV with the first stick!

Then, my dad and I waited over an hour to actually go and do the test. We were brought into a room where this giant machine was (pic below).

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I laid down on the machine bed and they started flushing my IV with saline. IT. BURNED. So they called the nurse who had placed it back in and we took a few minutes to make sure the IV was working. They flushed over 30mls of saline through it and it had blood return, so we knew it was working. Eventually, the stinging went away and it was just a cold feeling.

Next, they laid me back down and the bed was moved to where my chest was in the machine so they could take pictures of the veins and check for blood clots. When they started the contrast, I just about jumped out of the machine. I screamed. My entire right arm was immediately in intense pain and I was crying and struggling even more to breathe. The nurse in the room yelled for them to stop the test and the contrast. They pulled the bed out and had me sit up so I could breathe better. They called in a radiologist to check my IV again. The nurse who had been watching the IV said that once the contrast went in, my hand had blanched and turned a completely different color. They had been infusing the contrast at 4mls/second, so it was decided that was too much for my venous system to handle and the rate was cut in half.

That made the test bearable and I made it through. By this time, it was about 4:45 and my clinic was closing. So we were told to stay in the radiology waiting room until we got the results. If it was positive for a pulmonary embolism, I would need to keep the IV in and be admitted. If it was negative, they could take the IV out and I could go home.

My dad and I waited 30-45 minutes for my Nurse Prac to call and tell me that I do NOT have a pulmonary embolism. The angiogram showed I have mild bronchiectasis, which is damage to the airways from CF. She expected to see this. It also showed I have atelectasis from mucus plugs, but this is normal for someone with CF. So the bottom line is, the angiogram came out normal for me.

So we think all of this is mainly caused from aspiration. THANKS A LOT REFLUX.

Dr. Gilbey recommended I switch from Ranitidine to Nexium to help with the reflux and to take Claritin or Zyrtec to help with symptoms in case the Lubbock weather is contributing at all.

So, my dad and I spent 6.5 hours at Cook’s to find all of this out. We got home at 11 pm last night.

I am so thankful I did not have to stay and be admitted, but man am I frustrated.

Writing this post this morning, I am still struggling to breathe. My NP called me to check on me this morning and thinks it will all go away with time. It probably will.

But please remember, I’ve already been struggling for two weeks. How much longer will I have to struggle to BREATHE? I have such a great care team in Fort Worth and I am so grateful for them. I just wish we could have found a quick fix.

Doing treatments three times a day did nothing for me, so I’m going back to my regular once-a-day regimen and I will see what happens. I’m going to pick up some Nexium today and I’m starting to taper off the Prednisone.

SO. Please, please continue to pray for me. I am feeling a little disheartened by all of this and that I’m back home with the same problems. Praying for answers and that all of these issues go away.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. It means the world to me!

When Life isn’t Fair

Since I was little, I’ve always loved to write. My family can attest to that. Since I started this blog a few years ago, I’ve found healing when I write. Whether I write it all out and don’t post it, or if I’m journaling to God, or if I write and do post it, I always find healing. Today is no different.

We’ve all had those days where life just isn’t good to us. Where it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, or you lay in bed crying your eyes out.

I’ve had a few of those days recently.

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have read a post I posted this past Saturday evening. I got a call from my mom that night telling me Christian Lincoln had passed away suddenly. I was heartbroken. I couldn’t breathe. You see, Christian had cystic fibrosis, like me. She had just gotten out of the hospital not long ago. She was my cyster.

Not only was she my cyster, but she was also my great cousin. We told everyone we were cousins, because what is a great cousin anyway? We weren’t close like you would think cousins would be. That’s due to us both having this same disease. As most of you probably know, people with CF can’t be around each other in order to keep the other safe from any bugs growing in their lugs. We’re contagious to each other, but not others. CF is an isolating disease.

When someone with the same deadly disease as you passes, it’s a feeling like none other.

Memories flooded me.

When I worked at UMC as a dietitian, there would be times I saw Christian in the hallway or the cafeteria from afar. We would wave and smile at each other, and move on. One time when she was in the hospital, I brought her chocolate cupcakes and had one of my fellow dietitians deliver them to her room while I waited outside. There were a few times when Christian was admitted to my floor. Of course, I couldn’t go and speak with her, but I had one of my interns or my fellow RD’s visit with her and make sure she was okay. We texted about her wedding plans and we texted when she was in the hospital.

Since we never hung out in person, I won’t physically miss her presence.

But, I’ll miss that someone to talk to. That someone who knows exactly what I go through because she went through it too. I’ll miss her positivity when I was in a negative state of mind.

At her celebration of life today, many people there talked about CF. There was a poem read about CF that hit home for me. I wish I could remember it so I could recite it here.

Anyway, the point is, when someone you know dies from CF, it’s really hard not to picture yourself in their shoes.

It’s hard not to see yourself and imagine that you’re next. It’s hard to realize that you have the same disease that took another’s life.

But I can’t keep thinking like that. There is a positive side to this negative tragedy.

Christian went to heaven and I know she has perfect lungs and can finally breathe normally. Now I’m jealous! She got to meet Jesus and is not feeling anymore pain. Praise God!

So, when life isn’t fair, let’s remember that there’s always a silver lining. There’s always a positive outlook, you just have to find it.

{Fall}ing for My New Job, Lung Function and Life Expectancy

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It’s that time again; time for the quarterly health update via my blog. Plus a few other things too 🙂

Before I go into my appointment details from last week, I’d like to tell you about what’s been going on in my life.

A  few months ago, a fellow registered dietitian in Lubbock contacted me about a job opportunity. This job opportunity turned into me traveling to Dallas for a job interview, and me accepting the job just a few days later. It was a whirl-wind!

There are many positive things about this new job, a few of which are better pay, more flexibility (allowing me to truly focus on my health) and just a better package overall. But, the best part is, I educate patients and caregivers of patients with feeding tubes on their supplies, formula and everything in-between. Part of my job is sales, which I never thought I would do as an RD. But, I’m selling Epic, the company I now work for. I sell something people need to live. I’m selling what I can do for the patients and their families and I LOVE it!

It has definitely been a transition going from working as a clinical dietitian to this new job, where my title is Clinical Liaison (CL). Basically, I am the in-between for patients and facilities. I meet with doctors, social workers, case managers, nurses, medical assistants, nurse pracs, etc and build relationships with them while telling them how I can help them.

Again, it has been a transition. I am the only CL in Lubbock and I cover Amarillo as well, so there is some traveling involved. My boss is also in Austin, so it’s been different trying to figure things out for myself. Thankfully, there are some really awesome people in the Lubbock and Amarillo Epic offices that have been very helpful!

I have had a few “set-ups”, where I have been able to educate patients and families about their feeding tubes, pumps and supplies. It is truly “my happy place”!

Now for details on my clinic appointment!

So, on our way to Fort Worth, I mentioned to Jason that I thought I had forgotten to tell anyone (besides work) that I had a doctor appointment that day and that I was going to Fort Worth….oops. I got in trouble for that one later!

But, the fact that really no one knew about it meant I hadn’t been worrying about it, which is great! And I was right not to.

I was up 2 pounds to 109 pounds, oxygen was 99% and my PFT (lung function test) was 96%! My last one in July was 97% and the one before that (my best one) was 98%, which shows my lung function is stable. Can I get an Amen?

The dietitian met with me and we discussed something I have been very excited about: Relizorb.

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Most of you know that with cystic fibrosis, we are unable to digest our food normally and therefore have to take enzymes with high fat meals/snacks. These enzyme capsules that I swallow contain various enzymes specific to breaking down carbohydrates, lipids (fat) and proteins. In Relizorb, it only contains the enzymes necessary to break down fat.

When I tube feed at night, I have to take enzymes before and after to help digest the nutrients in the formula, just like with any other food I eat. I typically take 4 enzymes before I tube feed, and 4 more when I wake up and the feeding is complete. Because Relizorb only contains lipase enzymes (enzymes needed to break down fat), I will still need to take 2 enzymes before and after tube feeding to help break down the other nutrients. Now, that really may not seem like a big deal, and honestly it’s not! I told my dietitian that I don’t need the Relizorb, but would like to try it just for the experience. She agreed, it’s a great idea!

This is how Relizorb looks when hooked up to the tube feeding line; personally, I will have 2 cartridges piggy-backing each other since I take in so much of my formula, TwoCal HN

I got a call just the other day from the Relizorb team and received more information on the cartridges. My CF care team is taking care of the paperwork so I can hopefully get the cartridges soon!

Experiencing new things with tube feeding is so helpful to not only myself, but I think it is helpful for others as well. Especially since I have this new job!

Well, that’s just about it on my life currently. Jason and I are having a blast in marriage, as always! And I am so grateful that the Lord has blessed me with this new job in a field I never thought I would be in, doing what I love, and being able to get more sleep and focus more on my health. I am blessed!

ALSO! If you haven’t already seen from my Instagram and Facebook post, the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference just happened this past weekend. It was during this conference that they announced that they average life expectancy of someone living with CF has been increased from 37 years to 47 years old!!! I am beyond ecstatic! Most of you know that when I was diagnosed almost 24 years ago, my life expectancy was 18 years old. As you can tell, that number just continues to go up.

Growing up, I’ve always been told that I will most likely die from CF. It may not be any time soon, but I was told that would be the case as I got older. Now, with my lung function stable at a high number and the life expectancy going up, it’s really hard to see that happening. I can actually see a full life ahead of me. I can see myself growing old with Jason and watching our grandkids grow up as well. It’s something most CFer’s don’t get to do these days.

So, thank you to everyone who has donated to Team Jordan in the past years and donated to the CF Foundation through events, like the CF Taste Tour (see a picture below from this year’s event), etc. Because of donors like you, the CFF has the money to fund research for a cure. Because of you, I am confident we will find a cure! The Lord really is so, so good.

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Mom and I at the Lubbock Taste Tour!