Today I visited my CF clinic. If everything is going smoothly, I visit the clinic every three months for a breathing test and a physical exam. I give a sputum sample so the doctors can keep tabs on what bacteria is growing in my lungs. I also see a social worker, dietician, and physical therapist once a year.
Although the breathing test is only one aspect of my clinic visit, it is an important one. It is also the part of the visit that gives me the most anxiety. That little number holds a lot of weight in the CF world, and my FEV1 is often uncooperative. So even though there are more facets to my clinic visit, and more measures of my overall health, clinic day always feels like FEV1 day.
This has not been my best year health-wise. I started out the year with a series of illnesses that resulted in my FEV1 falling from 49% to 32%. It then rebounded to 40%, dropped back to 34%, and settled at 42% for several months. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from that finicky FEV1 today. My doctor and I were both hoping that the score would continue to improve from 42% and I would get back to my 50ish baseline. I am always hopeful that at the very least, the number will be stable. But I haven’t been feeling as well this fall as I did over the summer, so I had my doubts.
And sure enough, it fell again, this time to 38%. My doctor feels that this drop is due to asthma. I struggle with asthma in addition to my CF and my asthma symptoms are the worst in the fall and winter. Fall is difficult for me as the weather cools and is often damp. I am very allergic to mold which is prevalent under the rising leaf piles. The mold gets stirred up and assaults my system as the autumn winds blow through. The doctor switched one of my asthma medications and added a new one, and we will see if those measures can get that FEV1 headed back in the right direction.
Of course this latest developement is disappointing. I always hope to see good numbers when I visit the clinic. I have used many f-words to describe my FEV1. Finicky, fiendish, falling, and fickle have made the blog. Boy would I love to use fantastic or fabulous instead. But alas, this was not a fabulous or fantastic FEV1 day.
Tonight as I reflect on my appointment, the feelings of frustration are there, but there are also feelings of peace. I really, really want to see that FEV1 improve. What I wouldn’t give to see a 49 or 50 again! But even at 38, I have a full and happy life. Today is FEV1 day, but tomorrow is not. Today that number holds weight, but tomorrow, it matters less. Although that number shows weakness, tomorrow I will wake up a strong woman because I will take hold of the strength that God gives. Tomorrow is an ordinary day–a day in which I get to live that full and happy life. I will take care of my son and teach my students. I will talk to my friends, and relax with my husband. I will do whatever work God puts in front of me. My body is broken and so I struggle. But my life is full of love, laughter, and joy. I am whole.