Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Difficulties of Dating

Relationships & CF: 

So yesterday was my boyfriend and I's 2 year anniversary. It seems crazy to think I've been dating Andrew for two years. Well, not completely crazy. He's simply amazing and he makes me happier than anything else in the world so of course we are dating. But, what is crazy about it is that I, ME, that's right, Cheriz, has been dating someone for 2 years! I think I've only had 1 relationship make it past 4 months. A whopping 6 months and that was in 2003. I've only had a couple "good or  semi-serious" relationships. I've been in love before, but the truth is it is difficult sometimes to be in a relationship and have Cystic Fibrosis. Finding someone you love or care for is only one part. Finding someone that helps me succeed in my health and makes life richer is another.

So many problems can happen...
There is always the awkward moment when you tell the person you have CF. And one of two things usually happen. 1. They are interested, care, and want to know more. OR 2. They seem apathetic towards it and are like that's ok. But don't really get involved. They figure you can handle it on your own. Luckily, I didn't have to worry about telling Andrew about my CF. IN FACT: Andrew and I met through a show choir in college. He later told me that he was interested in me, so he started to read my blog. He said the more he read it the more in love he was with me. He felt I was the strongest person he knew and from knowing me in show choir he could tell I was fun, sweet, and smart too. He wanted to know more about my CF, so he eventually read every post I had written and even did a little research about CF. And after all that he wasn't discouraged at all. He decided more than ever he knew he wanted to date me. A few weeks of us talking, etc. We decided to start dating on Oct 27th 2012!

I couldn't believe that a huge part of him falling in love with me was my CF. Well, not my actual CF, but how my CF has shaped me as a person.

Some of the past boyfriends I had in college, said  they cared, but they didn't think about how anything would affect me. For example: They might want me to go out for dinner at 9pm or stay out late. Back then I still was doing stomach feeding every night. I'd end up getting home at 11pm, doing my meds until midnight. I'd hook up to my feeding at 12am and would only be able to do 1/2 the formula, since I didn't have as much time. Or boyfriends would make me feel bad for not wanting to go out. Sometimes I just don't feel well and I wanna stay in. My stomach will hurt, or my lungs will be wheezy. Andrew always can tell and notices. He always just tells me we will reschedule. He thinks about how my Cystic Fibrosis will affect everything.

At one point while attending U of I, I dropped down 20 lbs. was hoovering unheathily around 90 lbs and my lung function took a big hit as it dropped to 38%. SCARY! I was skipping meds, not eating enough, and hanging out with a boyfriend that constantly wanted to be on-the-go all the time. Don't ever stay in a relationship that jeopardizes your health!!! After that I decided to a take at least a year away from dating and work on my health. And did that. I was single all of 2011 & part of 2012. My lung function went back to my normal 55% and my weight got back above 100 lb. I was nervous to start dating again when I first started to think about dating Andrew. But I had nothing to worry about. He always assured me, he wouldn't let anything affect my health.

Seriously, it's adorable how he packs snacks for me if we will be gone all day. Or how he refills my enzyme pills in my purse if it's running low. Its the simple and small things he does every day for me that I really appreciate.

One of the biggest fears I always had in the past with a few boyfriends is that they wouldn't really be able to handle my CF. They would try, but it would freak them out and eventually it would wear them out. In Andrew and I's first 2 years of dating I've had two surgeries, been in the hospital 4 times, been on medical leave from work for 3 months, and then again for 5 months, I've been so ill my oxygen level was so low I kept passing out. Andrew literally carried me into the ER. I've thrown up on him, I even have peed my pants, from a huge coughing attack (yep, embarrasing, but true). He doesn't judge. He just helps me with whatever I need. I would never have been able to deal with anything like that with my past boyfriends. In fact, when I would get sick I'd avoid my past boyfriends. But, Andrew is such a laid back, nice, amazing guy I just feel comfortable with him. I don't hide anything. I don't have to.

Other CFers: Here is a little note. You may be scared to share about your CF, don't be, if they truely see you for the couragous person you are, then they appreciate you more for it. Therefore, they see your strength and are strong too.

But what does CF mean for our future?

Nobody knows what the future holds for anyone, so I try not to dwell on fear. However, I did push guys away in the past. I didn't want to "ruin" their lives. I felt bad they had to deal with my CF and some boyfriends would mention things that would upset me. For example wanting to do traveling all the time, or how many biological kids they wanted... etc. Yep, well traveling is super hard on me and I can't have children. So those relationships ended fast. Lots of topics go through your head when you have a "terminal disease." Can they handle this or that? Especially after watching others with the same disease pass away. I'd get scared and think. Will they be upset since I can't have kids and we have to adopt or go through surrogacy ( if they aren't a CF Carrier)? Are they type of person that could handle being a single parent if something happened to me?

Those topics are sad, but truthfully I think about them sometimes. Andrew is the first guy I've ever actually discussed all these issues with. I love that it didn't make him change his mind one bit. He discussed everything with me & to be honest I love that I can be completely honest with him! I know with him, we can tackle anything life gives us!

The key to a relationship while having CF: is talking, honesty, and caring.

I know these seem obvious to any relationship. But, the fact I can be honest and talk to Andrew about anything shows that I don't need to hide or be afraid of anything my CF may bring to our lives. I know we will have medical obstacles more often than the normal couple. BUT, talking and being honest about feelings will keep us on the same page! And they have to care, help you when you need it. Never complain about it and want to do it. I'm completely comfortable around him and he cares enough to always think about my CF. He's carried me during arthritis flare ups, picks up my prescriptions all the time, does maunal CPT on me daily. He cares. We care for each other and that is the biggest success to our relationship!

You may have heard the saying:  Love is putting their needs infront of your own. 
I think of it like this: Love is putting their needs infront of your own, and them putting your CF infront of everything!

Last year for our 1 year Anniversary Andrew planned a whole suprise weekend! It was one of the best weekends I have ever had! Make sure to check out the fabulous weekend HERE!

Pic left: Us Mini Golfing last year! 

This year Andrew had to work from 9-5pm, but he brought me home flowers and the sweetest card. Then we got dressed up (my sweater dress- pic right)  and he drove me to my "secret" date night. Which consisted of Shopping at my favorite mall! I love Crate & Barrel and the Body Shop. This mall has both! We bought me a couple banana shampoos & he got a cologne! We then had dinner reservations at a Restaurant called Tuscany. The food was delicious! We had Calamari for an App, then I had " Spaghettini Di Mare". I love seafood and this pasta had every kind of seafood I could think of in it! We also ordered this beautiful Creme Brulee for dessert (pic below)!

It was a great date, honestly we could of done anything. I'm just beyond lucky that I have Andrew. He has completely changed my life!

So don't let CF or anything make you believe you won't find someone who fits perfectly with you! You will, just be patient! I was and I am very glad I was ( which we all know patience is not something I'm good at), but in this care it paid off. Love him!

Look for part two: Relationships from HIS perspective! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Real Scoop Behind Working

How Working Works:

Since surgery on the 14th I've been really concentrating on catching up in Real Estate. Since the chaos that happened (pre-surgery) I wasn't able to work. So I haven't worked since June. Its crazy. in 2013, I worked 2 jobs and was taking classes all year, but now I sit at home. That year was very tough on me medically. My lung function decreased and I spent over 1/3 of the year on anitbiotic pills and spent over 2 months in the hospital for infections, etc. Since my surgery is over, once I'm healed I can go back to work. Which got me thinking...

I have 51% lung function and Doc B said if it goes down to 49 next clinic (in two weeks) then we may discuss a hospitalization and IV antibiotics to bump up my numbers. In October of 2013 I went from 48 to 64% after a week on IVs in the hospital. Also, since I have stitches in my stomach organ and on the outside (on my skin too) I can't use my vest machine. So my lungs are getting even worse and more junky.

I really need to work on this and get my weight back up too. I lost around 8 lbs from my stomach problems. So with all that and classes Andrew thinks I should not go back to work yet. And to be honest I could use the time to study in order to Ace my Real Estate Class and Lincensing Test. If all goes as planned I will be licnesed this Dec or Jan!

So why am I going into Real Estate? To be honest if you know me you know I have struggled over the years to find my career path. For example: in college I did 3 years as an undergrad in Geology, but was unable medically to attend the field camp. I was told I should consider the teaching option. I didn't want to teach. And my Doc had always reccommended I not work in a school or daycare. Well, the DayCare rule I broke for 9 months because I enjoyed it and it was a small school. In college, I took 4 electives in Architecture for fun. I loved Architecture and studying Frank Lloyd Wright in my spare time. But, I knew it was a job with long hours and traveling. Neither fit into my needed life style. Which is when I decided to settle with Psychology and do Grad School for either Orgainzational Psych or Social Work. I had always been curious about the human mind and our thought process. I loved Psychology and I'm glad I got my degree in it. However, when it came time to do Grad School, I had to take a few years in between to get my lung function & weight back up. I needed to focus on me.

While at U of I, I fluctuated in weight between 90-101 lbs. By the time I graduated I was 92 lbs and only 38% lung function. Finally in 2013 I was ready to go back to college for Grad School. I started at Dominican University and ended up really sick again and in the hospital. I missed over a month and a half of classes. I had to withdraw and then I struggled the following semester and was unable to go back. I knew there was no way Grad School would be in my future. I can't really learn online very well, I'm more of a "in the classroom" learner. So I had to figure out a new plan.

Pics from 2013 - Hospitalizations and IVs.. Not want I want to keep happening.

I had taken Real Estates Classes & passed some courses a few years ago. But I didn't pursue the licensing at the time due to a virus that attacked my body landing me in the hospital. Time flew by and then it was too late. But I loved learning about it. I decided I needed to give it a second try.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons. First, being a Real Estate Broker means I make my own hours and its a little more flexible. I still work a lot of hours, but if I need to take time off for meds I can. The income is purely "commission based". I can do a lot of the work from home. Imagine me updating a MLS while doing therapies. How cool is that! But there is a bigger reason...

This may be weird, so if you don't believe me ask my mom. When I was around 8 year old mom and dad took my sister and I through a few open houses (just to look) and I loved it. I kept begging mom to go through open houses with me in the future for fun. And I still do this regularly. Also, shortly after the age of 8 I started buying magazines filled with floor plans. Every time I had clinic in Peoria we would go to Barnes & Nobles. Ada would get a novel and I got a magazines filled with blue prints. Then Mom bought me graphing paper and I started designing my own. I have a huge binder filled with houses I've designed from childhood to recent.
See pic to the left...

 I was more than obsessed. When my sister and the neighbors were drawing flowers or hearts on the driveway, I was drawing floor plans. I'd run inside: "Mom, come walk through my house" I'd then play pretend that I was an agent. Not kidding.

Here is the biggest (honest) reason I didn't go right into real estate. I wanted a bachelor's degree and also I know Real Estate is an independent field. So I wouldn't have a steady salary with any benefits. I was terrified by the idea of not having good medical benefits. It still scares me but I know that once Andrew is teaching he will have good benefits. So whew.. I'm going to give Real Estate a chance.

I really think it will be the perfect fit for me. I can work extra hard the months I'm healthy and step back a bit when I start feeling sick. I can arrange my schedule as needed and best of all... I will actually LOVE my career!!

My Cystic Fibrosis controls a large chunk of my day. I need:  9 breathing treatments (3 sets of 3 throughout the day), 1 hour of a vest treatment, to maintain 3,000 calories and get at least 8-9 hours of sleep. Having a career with CF (for me) needs a careful balance in order to pay the bills and keep my health up! It can be tough work, but eventually it all worked out for me! I hope... lol

Friday, October 17, 2014

168 Hours without Food

On a Liquid Diet, But Healing: 
(stomach pics below)

This week has been interesting and challenging. I had surgery on Tuesday to finally surgically fix my stomach tube hole. I updated everyone on Tuesday afternoon after I had woken up (that's when I wrote the last blog post which is below), but here is a better update. I haven't posted since then because " I went Silent for Cystic Fibrosis" and participated in a 65 hours challenge to stay unplugged from social media. It was sooo tough not logging onto facebook or tweeting anything in the last two days. I was healing and unable to do a lot, so going online would have helped time fly by, so it was bad timing. But now that the 65 hours is over I want to make sure to catch everyone up!

After surgery on Tuesday I was admitted overnight, just to make sure everything was going well. They started giving me Diluadid for the pain (it wasn't too bad if comparing to my triple hernia surgery), but they wanted me to not hold back my coughs and wanted me to be able to walk around, so they encouraged me to take the pain meds. I took a couple doses of the pain med but I was too extrememly itchy and knew I was allergic. They took me off the pain meds for the night and gave me benadryl instead. That cleared everything up. I was wondering why they tried a new pain med with me. I have a severe allergy to morphine (my organs shut down and I go into anaphylactic shock), but I'm just glad it was a mild allergy like the antibiotics I'm allergic to instead.  The next morning I was put on the pain med I normally take and told I needed to keep down the liquid diet in order to go home.

I ate some broth and jello for breakfast and lunch and was glad I was told I could go home by 4pm on Wednesday. The surgeon came in and explained that overall everything went really well. They had cut out some of the scar tissue, in order to make sure it could be surgically closed. Scar tissue had formed around the hole, which is why it was leaking and wasn't ever going to heal. They had originally planned on a 2 inch vertical scar, but once in the Operation Room, they realized my stomach was too close to my ribcage. The incision had to be slanted instead, but it looks good. I've been keeping an eye on it since Wednesday and I'm very pleased how well it is healing. Sorry if you are squeamish, but I've had other people ask for pictures.

 So here is what the hole actually looked like (yep, like a bullet hole) and then here it is now with the incision.
And you can see some of my scars from other surgeries too!

So far healing wise it all is going very well. The surgeon/ docs want me to take the pain meds as long as my cough is causing my ribcage to bump into my stomach. It is important for me not to hold back my coughs in fear of it hurting. This would only cause my lungs to get junky and there would be whole lot of other problems.

So I'm taking the pain meds after nebulizers, when I'm coughing more, or if I am walking/moving around a lot. Obviously, since I have severe allergies I'm not the biggest fan of staying on pain meds more than 1 day. But I'm also not a big fan of No Food either. 

Since my actual stomach organ was stitched up and is a little delicate, I've been instructed to only be on a liquid diet through Saturday. Today is friday, I've had nothing but juice, water, broth, and jello since monday evening. I'm VERY excited for Sunday, where I get to add some mashed potatoes, cream based soups, and other soft foods. I've been without food for medical reasons for longer than a week when I was younger, but it doesn't mean I deal with it any better. I've been cranky today, luckily Andrew has been working all day, so he doesn't have to deal with me. Haha, although he's just so sweet all the time, its hard to be cranky towards him. He's already planning what meals to make... Can't wait til I cant EAT!

So other than my incision changing direction, being on liquids still, and my minor snag with the pain med allergy, I can't beleive how well this is going! Fastest healing from surgery Ever! Tomorrow, I'm even going to sit with mom at her craft show all day. :-)

I'm looking forward to a future without a stomach hole leaking, laying on my stomach again, and getting back to working out!