Monday, July 26, 2010

CFRI Retreat

*This blog is about sputum. If that grosses you out, stop reading.*

Cystic Fibrosis Research Inc (CFRI) is hosting their annual conference and retreat starting July 30. The conference is 3 days (July 30 -August 1), followed by a charitable golf tournament (August 2), and on to the retreat (August 3-9). I have been planning on attending the retreat...but I have one slight problem. A sputume culture is required for attendance and I have no sputum to culture. My lungs have been left so free and clear after my IV treatment there is just nothing coming up.

Collection of sputum has actually always been a challenge for me. I could go for days on end coughing, then the moment the doctors hands me a cup for collection...forget it. In this case, I know it is related to the success of my treatment. For the past couple of weeks, I thought I would just see what happens. But I need the results by Friday. Using the Acapella every night has not helped. I have been huff-coughing every morning. Last night, I even pulled out the old VEST to see if that could get anything going. Nothing.

Then this morning, I was going to give it my last try. Four or five huff-coughs led to regular, deep coughing. I was able to bring a small sample up, although I am not sure if it was enough to culture. I took it over to the lab anyway. Now I have to wait and see. I never though there would be a down side to being healthy. :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sonoma County Tour Guide

Sonoma County was home to Mr. Charles Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip. His legend lives on in the county with the Snoopy Ice Arena and the Charles Schultz Museum. Prior to his death, he also donated a large sum of money to my alma mater, Sonoma State University, for a new campus library. His final resting place is at the Pleasant Hills Cemetery in Sebastopol, California.

Yesterday I went to the ice arena to watch my friend's son play hockey. It really got me thinking about how lucky we are to have Mr. Schultz be apart of our community and to have such a nice ice arena in our own backyard. Here is a local piece of history, right at my door step. I have lived in this area for 12 years and prior to this year, I have never been to the ice arena or the museum. Now that I have been to both, I wish I would have embraced this local history long ago. But there is no time like the present. If you live in the area, I encourage you to take advantage of our local history. And if you are ever in the area for a visit, make sure to visit these attractions.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Post-Treatment Follow Up

It has been almost two weeks since I completed my IV antibiotic treatment. The good news is I am feeling pretty good. During the treatment my sinuses never really felt like they completed cleared up, but the pressure and headaches have stopped completely. I did have one day during treatment with an increase in pressure in my sinuses, but it was only one day and it has not happened again. I have had a full month with no headaches. That is a really good sign. Now we just have to wait and see how long I can go without antibiotics in my system before the symptoms return. Weeks? Months? How about a year?

Even thought the treatment was triggered by a sinus infection, I can't believe how clear my lungs feel. I hardly ever cough or clear my throat. It is ironic, however, because I want to attend a CF conference in which I need a sputum culture by July 30. I have no sputum to culture. Even after my Acapella treatment or exercising, nothing is coming up. Its good in a way, but frustrating at the same time.

On Thursday I followed up with CF Clinic. The doctor seemed satisfied with the visit, so we pulled the PICC. My PFTs improved since last time, but they were not at there all time best. I felt a little disappointed considering how great I felt and how clear my lung where. The doctor and I talked about using hypertonic saline treatment or pulmozyme to help keeps things at this stage. I think I am leaning toward HST, just to try a treatment that is not a medication.

Following the Clinic, I headed over to the ENT department. They are keeping me on my nasal rinses twice a day and flonase. After the exam, the doctor said my sinuses looked good, mostly clear and no inflammation.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

From Furloughs to Minimum Wage

For the past year and a half, my employer (The State of California) implemented a furlough program consisting of three unpaid days off a month. I enjoyed the extra time off. The furlough program ended in June, so this month I have returned to work full time. There still seems to be talk, however, of reduced just won't be balanced with time off. I will just be working with a pay cut. Nothing about this really seems final until the state has a signed budget for the new fiscal year, which began July 1.

With the start of the new fiscal year and no signed budget, there is always a panic within State Government. Bills are not paid, no purchasing can take place, etc. This year it also seems state employees will receive minimum wage paychecks until a budget is signed. Once the budget is signed, employees will receive back pay for the difference. While I am not super excited to receive such a huge reduction in salary, I can manage. That is what savings is for. It is the fine print that has me worried. During this time, the premium I owe for my health insurance will not be withheld from my paycheck...meaning the state will not be paying my premium to my health care insurance provider.

I have been told that my coverage will continue for 90 days from the date of the first missed payment. But, the state is facing some serious fiscal challenges and it would not be surprising if the budget was not signed past 90 days. Then what? I just don't have insurance anymore? Oh well, too bad for me?

My employer can mess with my money, my retirement, my 401k, and even my dental insurance...I'll just go with the flow and be thankful I have a job. But messing with my health insurance is not ok. I will not be silent with this. It is essential to have health insurance, and with my pre-existing condition, I don't have the option to just go out and buy it. Hopefully my union will have some insight on this. I guess I really just have to wait and see. Perhaps there will be a signed budget by the end of the month and none of this will matter.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lance Armstrong in Santa Rosa?

Yesterday while stocking up on fresh produce at the local grocery store, I spotted a man that looked *just* like Lance Armstrong. Not giving it much more thought, I continued to do my shopping, but we kept crossing paths. And every time I saw him, I couldn't help but wonder if that was Lance. Once I was done in the produce section, I just needed to get one more thing and head to the check out stand. I saw him one last time and that's when I noticed this guy's shirt. It simple said "Livestrong." Was this a really strange coincidence? Was this really Lance Armstrong? Then I remembered...Tour de France. It started on Saturday and I was pretty sure Lance was riding, making it impossible for him to be in Santa Rosa, California.

I went home to Google the event and sure enough, Lance was in France. So, I can be positive the man I saw was not Lance, but some crazy look-alike, who happened to be sporting a Livestrong shirt. But yet...I wonder.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Dog, Dotty

Last week Dotty had to be rushed to the emergency room, after I found her shaking and panting with an irregular breathe. Apparently, she ate something and has having a negative reaction. We don't know what she ate and she is fine now, but it was scary not knowing if she was going to be ok.

The Vet decided to keep her for about 24 hours to provide her with treatments to flush her system of possible toxins. Additionally, they had her on IV fluids too. But during all this, she bit a nurse at the hospital, so she had to be reported to Animal Control. She has been on house arrest for a week. Yesterday Animal Control had to do a house visit to make sure she was not showing signs of rabies. It was a simple visit, it only took about 3 minutes. She has been cleared of house arrest. I"m so glad she is ok and the visit went well.