Re-entry

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Things are going pretty well over here in the land of the Venturas. I am continuing to take the anti-fungal drug and although there are some side effects, the most bothersome ones have lessened and it is manageable. I hope and pray it will make a difference for my lungs.

In the meantime I’ve re-entered my normal life!  I’ve been able to tolerate my usual level of activity for the past week or so and it feels wonderful. Thanks to some help from loving friends, my house is looking much more clean and organized, and today I spent a little over an hour digging up weeds outdoors. The weeds in our front beds seemed to sense the opportunity and multiplied at an alarming rate over the past few months. Lucas helped me by throwing the non-prickly ones in the compost bin. We pretended they were carrots instead of weeds and he had a blast!

Lucas and I have re-entered our social life as well and have enjoyed some playdates with friends and visits to the park. I am working hard at building up strength and fitness.  I joined a group of “cysters” (that means other women with CF) on Facebook who are using exercise to stay healthy and a handful of us are doing a 30-day ab challenge. Jaime expanded his One for One to include this and is suffering right along with me ;).

Operation Lace Up is in full swing and I’m on week two of the Couch to 5K program. Yesterday I was able to up my distance to two miles and did a combination of jogging a minute and a half and walking two minutes for the duration of the two miles. I’m moving at about a 14 minute mile pace which is a drop from the 12.5 minute pace I worked up to last summer, but I think it’s a good start.

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This made me laugh! You’ve gotta keep a sense of humor about such things 🙂

It feels great to be progressing and I hope these increased levels of activity and exercise will help me regain my lung function.

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This is what Lucas gets to do while I’m on the treadmill. He declined my offer to trade.

Jaime’s One for One (you can read his post here if you missed it) has been a great source of encouragement to me! He has found the time to run in the midst of a particularly busy spring schedule and I am so proud of him and grateful for his love and support. Maybe some day Lucas will run with me too.  For now, he’s been encouraging me by telling me multiple times a day that I’m not sick anymore.  And he’s got it right! The oppressive, acute symptoms are gone. I don’t know where my lung function is sitting right now, but maybe it’s best I don’t know.  Rather than focusing on that, I can get on with the business of living. There is no need to wait for a good report or a higher number. Today I can enjoy this life I love so much–colored at times with struggle and frustration and disappointment and defeat, yet bursting with joy and laughter and friendship and love.

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour but this hour.” ~Walt Whitman

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One For One

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A couple of years ago, a friend turned me on to a newish brand of shoes. TOMS is a California based shoe company that has become fairly popular, not only for their stylish kicks, but also for their social consciousness. TOMS’ pledge is that for every pair of shoes they sell, they will donate a pair of shoes to an impoverished child. They have expanded this pledge to eye glasses and they have also started a clean water initiative in conjunction with the coffee roasting branch of the company. TOMS has received some criticism but for the most part, I think they do a lot of good. Their slogan is “One For One”.

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One For One.

The other day, while I was browsing the new selection of TOMS paseos, I couldn’t stop thinking about this “One For One” mantra, but in a way completely unrelated to the purchase of a new pair of shoes for the summer. By now you have all become familiar with Betsy’s Operation Lace Up. Once a joyous activity, running has become a laborious task for my wife. She does it to maintain her health but it is a struggle. I would even go as far to say that it is a battle. But it is a battle that Betsy wins. Time and time again, even when she gets knocked down and has to start from zero, she laces up her running shoes and gets back on the treadmill or goes out, pounding the pavement of our neighborhood. Although her body might work against her, Betsy makes up for it with a strong will and a disciplined mind.

Betsy and I are complete opposites in that regard. I have a perfectly healthy set of lungs and a body that is still in relatively good condition. But I am lazy. So lazy! As part of her quest to improve her lung function, Betsy completed a couch to 5K training program last summer. In all honesty, the couch is about as far as I have managed to get in terms of running in recent years. It is so easy for me to give into to the TV or the tablet. I don’t really have a good excuse. I’m busy. But so is everyone. I’m tired. But so is my wife (even more so than me, truth be told). Betsy runs anyway.

I watch her run and I am amazed because I imagine that if I was the one with compromised lung capacity, I’m pretty sure I would have thrown in the towel on running. Betsy runs for me and she runs for Lucas. It’s not easy, but she is unrelenting. She embodies the old Nike catch phrase “Just Do It”. Can you tell I’m a little obsessed with shoes?

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Iconic.

So I’ve decided to get off the couch. I’m out of excuses and honestly, I feel guilty. Running will be good for me but mostly I’m going to start running because I can no longer ignore my wife’s example of perseverance. I have made a promise to Betsy that I will match her running schedule. Every day that she runs, I will run too.

One For One.

I am not looking forward to this. I hate running! Running is the worst! I used to do it to stay in shape for soccer. As I’ve gotten to be an adult I have done it sporadically to prevent myself from weighing 300 lbs. It’s never something I’ve enjoyed. But that doesn’t matter now. Now I’m running for a different reason. I’m running for the sake of solidarity. I’m running so that Betsy doesn’t feel like she is doing this alone.  Don’t expect me to be signing up for a marathon any time soon (you do realize that poor Pheidippides died when he got to Athens right?????) but if this gesture can be the smallest bit of encouragement to my wife, then I will have accomplished my goal.

I’d much rather be slipping into a pair of these than my running shoes.

One For One. Wish me luck…

Pressing On

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I headed back to the doctor at the end of last week for a recheck after a great appointment two weeks ago.  My lung function (FEV1) had come back up eight points while I was still feeling pretty sick, so I was excited and hopeful that I would see another gain now that I’m feeling so much better.  Instead of a gain, my score was back down six points, to 34.  Remember when I called the FEV1 a fickle fiend?  Well, that’s why. Oh the frustration.

There is really no good explanation for this drop or for why that number stays so low while my symptoms and stamina improve. Recovering from serious viruses does take time and with that in mind, my doctor hopes that over the next weeks and months we will see my lung function climb back up.  In the meantime, the only thing left untreated in all this is a mold called aspergillus which grew out of my lung culture. It has been there before, but has never appeared to cause problems for me, so I’ve never taken medication for it.  At this point, however, it is the last thing to try. Yesterday I started on what will be a three-month course of an anti-fungal drug to see if that will improve my lung function. The drug comes with a lengthy list of nasty side effects so we shall see if I’m able to tolerate it and finish out the course.

I’m sure you can imagine how discouraging this all is. I want to see that improvement so badly but so far my efforts and the treatments have not yielded that jump we need. But the good news is that I am still feeling much better than I was, 34 or not. I have resumed my normal life and am handling it well overall, although I’m requiring more sleep and rest. Last week I was even able to start exercising again. Welcome back, Operation Lace Up! I walked a mile and half at a 14-minute mile pace (pushing Lucas) twice, and the third time even tolerated a combination of jogging and walking at that pace (without Lucas). I’m hoping to restart the official “Couch to 5K” program yet this week.

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Lucas and I (and his cat Ringo) after our walk last week.

I’m asking God to raise my FEV1, because He can surely do it even when my efforts and treatment options fall short. In the meantime I’m pressing on. I’m committed to living the life I’ve been called to with whatever health and strength I’ve been given and with joy in my heart. After all, 34 is just a number. It does not define me.

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we’re battered and scarred
When we’ve spent our resources
When we’ve given our all

In Jesus’ name, we press on
In Jesus’ name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on

(song lyrics by Dan Burgess)

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Mother’s Day a Few Days Early

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I wanted to take the opportunity to honor my mom. Being a mother myself now, I can better appreciate the sacrificies she made on behalf of our family. As you might imagine, keeping a family of eight afloat was a round-the-clock job. She bought groceries, wiped noses, dried tears, packed lunches, and washed countless dishes, diapers and daughters. She was efficient and organized.

Although she was busy with house work and driving us to and fro, she always had time to spend with us one on one.  I have early memories of reading stories after lunch, resting on the couch together when I got home from Kindergarten, going for walks around the block, playing “Sorry” or “Go Fish” or having a tea party with a special little tea set she had. Sometimes as a special treat we would look at the dolls she had from her childhood or she would bring out her wedding dress to show us.

When we got sick she would kiss our foreheads to check for a fever, apply cool washclothes, rub our backs, put on relaxing music, and of course set the timer so we had plenty of fluids to aid in our recovery. There was always a place for me on her lap and I remember her holding my hand and stroking it with her thumb. Ah, the sweet comfort.

As an adult, I still call my mom when I’m sick, or sad, or excited, or I need advice. Her opinion is one I highly value and she is a great listener. She’s pretty wise too, and always helps me gain perspective. Mom has weathered many storms, but she has come through with a strong and beautiful spirit. When I think of her I think of gentleness, love, strength, and Godliness. I love her so much!

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Mom holding me when I was four months old.

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There’s that cozy spot on her lap! (I was four here)

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Mom and her girls at Christmastime (1983).

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Mom, Aunt Dianne, and the girls. I’m the one with the poofy hair. Oh wait, it was 1989, we all had poofy hair! I’m the one Mom is hugging 🙂

Visiting Sheri's grave together last fall.

Visiting Sheri’s grave together last fall.

Happy Mother’s Day to my special mom and to all you great moms out there! ❤