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Grateful for this week!

This week is going to be a challenging week for my husband. I wish there was a way that I could make it easier for him, but other than providing food and comfort, my hands are tied.

Since it’s going to be such a long/hard week, I figured I would take some time to write about a few things I’m grateful for and excited for this week.

#1) My sister is coming over for a visit today.

I am so blessed to have such a close relationship with both of my sisters, but unfortunately only one lives close to me.  My sister, Ellen, normally works 40 hours a week and commutes over 10 hours a week, so our time to hang out is rather limited.  Today, she’s going to come and spend some time with me.  Normally during our hangouts, we talk a lot and do very little of anything else.  It’s nice to just catch up with each other and give advice to each other, and I look forward to our time together (however limited it may be).

#2) Fall is definitely here

We have been experiencing an Indian Summer in Illinois, but the last few days the weather has drastically changed. Today, I woke up to a 32 degree wind chill and even thought about turning on the heat.  I’m ready for the chilly air this month and I’m getting excited for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and before we know it, Christmas.

#3) My library is now participating in Kindle sharing

Last Christmas, my parents gave us a Kindle, and I have absolutely enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, I do not buy books anymore (too expensive, and we have too little money), and I was running out of good, free books to read on the Kindle.  Because of this, I was making weekly trips to the library, which I enjoy but sometimes I just want a new book without leaving the house.  Yesterday, I logged on to the library website and noticed that Kindle sharing was finally here! I immediately jumped onto the website and downloaded my first library e-book! It was so exciting, and I’m already greatly enjoying my new story!!

There are so many more people/items/experiences I am excited or grateful for this week, but these are the top ones on my list right now.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their week!

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Date Night and a Revelation

My Love

Image by Jennuine Captures via Flickr

Marriage is such a beautiful gift and too often we are swept up in the daily struggles of life to fully cherish what we have.  I feel so blessed to have a partner in this world who sees me as his equal, supports me in every way he can, worries about me, treasures my insights and ideas, and loves me for who I am.  Not enough people in this world can actually say that statement in truth, and that saddens me.  To be honest, I don’t know where I’d be without my husband. He’s my best friend, my rock, and my life-long love.  My love for him comes only second to my love for God, and to have that sentiment reciprocated is the best feeling in the world.

Unfortunately, this school year has been extremely stressful and a true test to our marriage because of how little time we actually get to spend together.   Since every day has been feeling very repetitive and mundane, I decided that we desperately needed a date night.  Well, tonight was one of the best nights we’ve had in a long time.  For the first time since the school year started, David and I took the night to enjoy each other’s company and have a romantic dinner and movie.  We laughed, stuffed ourselves with fantastic food, kissed, held hands, and fully appreciated our time together.  We even took a drive by our old college, taking in how it has (and hasn’t) changed since we left.

Just the time spent sitting in the car, blaring the music, and smiling at each other, while I sing terribly off-key and he sings right on pitch, was fabulous.  Yet, we made the night even better by going out to one of our favorite restaurants, seeing a cheesy romantic comedy, and holding hands every chance we got.  I honestly felt like we were just starting to date again, and it was a wonderful sensation!

After the movie, we decided to drive by our old college.  Wow, is it funny how a few years can change things.  The buildings are the same, and the parking lots have only slightly expanded, but the atmosphere just seems so different now.  When we were there, it was like the entire world was open to us and every possibility lay before us.  Now, I see the fresh faces of eager, young, and energetic college students, and I realize they don’t know just how good they have it.

I remember being there and struggling to pull myself out of bed some mornings (especially when my CF was acting up).  I would attend about 5 hours maximum of classes and then had the rest of the day free to do homework, sleep, or hang out with friends.  Seriously? What is more perfect than the above description?  I didn’t “pay” rent (although my student loans beg to differ), I had meals made for me, I was surrounded by people my own age who actually cared about me, I developed life-long friendships, and I found the love of my life.  College was such a great time in my life, and I am so grateful to have gone where I did (even if my degree is of no use now).

After leaving our detour, David made an interesting but quite accurate statement that I hadn’t thought of before.  We had been talking about our college memories, our up-all-hours-of-the-night and desperately-need-coffee days, and about our crazy and random road trips, when he suddenly looked over and said, “It’s funny how fast we became a family.”

Wow. That line really hit me hard.  I hadn’t thought about it in those terms, but he was exactly right.  I don’t know why I’ve always envisioned a “family” being us and a child, but that’s really not the case.  We’re  a family already.  We look after each other, fulfill each other’s needs and desires, listen to each other, love each other, and treat our dog as if she’s our daughter.  We have an established routine and we struggle if we have to vary from it. We love sitting on the couch and doing nothing. Also, we can go for hours without talking and know just how the other person is feeling.  It’s quite evident that we’ve already started building this beautiful family unit that one day will hopefully include a child or children.  I’m not really sure when it started (was it right after our marriage or was it starting even before that?), but we have certainly evolved, for the better, from our college days.

Marriage is such a beautiful gift.  Looking back on our journey from where our relationship started to where it is now is breathtaking.  I’m so proud of us, and I’m excited about what our future holds.  I’ll tell you one thing for sure, if date night brings revelations like this all the time, it’s going to have to become a pretty regular thing around this house.

The Weekend Recap

Happy Monday all!

This past weekend was extremely busy and jam-packed with fun.  It started off Friday night when I was able to spend the entire evening with my sweet husband, doing absolutely nothing.  We both live for those nights because they’re quite rare around our house. Usually, we’re cleaning, working, visiting family/friends, or doing random errands/chores.  So Friday was wonderful.  I was able to see Forrest Gump for the second time (I didn’t like it the first time and the hubby convinced me to give it another try – so glad I did), and we cuddled on the couch the entire time.  Perfection may not be a strong enough word to describe Friday evening.

Then, early Saturday, we got up and started cleaning the house which desperately needed to be done.  I do a lot of cleaning throughout the week, but the vacuuming and use of harsh chemicals is saved for David because of how both activities make my lungs feel afterward.  Within two hours, the house was nice and polished and my mother-in-law had arrived to spend the day with us.  We went down to a local festival where we proceeded to eat a pork chop on a stick (most amazing food in the world), corn on the cob drenched in butter, and a deep friend warm apple dumpling topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.  Talk about food heaven – it was incredibly delicious.

Beautiful Festival Tree

Although I didn't think to photograph any of the yummy food, I did manage to capture this beautiful tree!

I also considered this my OutRun CF time.  Since I registered late, and did not receive a shirt yet, I decided to walk this past Saturday and then do a walk/run as soon as I get my shirt. My bestie had offered to run with me Saturday morning, but I unfortunately slept in much later than I expected (I think the antibiotics have officially kicked in and are wiping me out).  Hopefully she will be willing to walk/run with me the second time while I wear my shirt.

After spending a few hours at the festival, we headed back the house where David, his mom, and I enjoyed a wonderfully delicious cheese and mushroom pizza (I know we shouldn’t have been hungry, but I promise you we were).  It was a wonderful time and I thoroughly enjoy the visit, as I always do when she comes over.  I am very blessed to have a very caring and supportive mother-in-law.  I can imagine many other cysters/fibros may not be this fortunate.

Following the pizza, David’s mom took off and we spent the rest of the night at a Chicago Improv show with two of our best friends.  I laughed and surprisingly did not find myself in one coughing fit the entire night – I was shocked!  It was a great show and we were very fortunate that our friends invited us along for free!! So, we spent the night out in Chicago and spent no money – pretty incredible if you ask me!

We didn’t end up getting home until about 2:30 in the morning, at which time I had to do my treatment prior to crashing.  I was actually pretty proud of myself because even a few years ago, I would have skipped the treatment to get more sleep.  Come 3:30 in the morning, when I finally rolled into bed, I fell asleep immediately.  We didn’t wake up until noon on Sunday and then spent the entire day preparing for the week – David has lesson planning, papers to grade, and more.  I help by bouncing ideas around with him and working around the house.

Today, he’s back to his usual 12 hour days at the school, and I worked hardcore on cleaning the fridge (which is why I haven’t posted until this afternoon).  Remember last week when I posted about the delicious turkey and sides that I had made?  Well unfortunately, the fridge door caught on an inside drawer last Thursday, and the fridge remained open for 5 hours.  Sadly, we had taken a nap and spent time working in the living room, so we didn’t notice the door until all the food was ruined.  Thankfully, my medication remained semi-cold, but all the meat, milk, cheese, and other odds and ends in the fridge had spoiled (I tried about 5 different things, each being spoiled, before I decided to toss everything).

The good thing about the fridge fiasco is that I rarely get the chance to have an empty fridge.  This means, I rarely take every single shelf/tray out of the fridge to clean it thoroughly.  So today, prior to getting groceries, I decided to take the time and scrub every single thing down.  I don’t think our fridge has been this clean since we moved in, and I must admit that I’m very proud of it.  Below is the result of my efforts.

Clean Fridge

Completely empty and clean (aside from my Cayston)!!!!

I hope all my readers, family, and friends had as wonderful a weekend as we did! I also sincerely wish that you each have a love-filled and blessed week ahead!!

A quote for Friday

Vineyard in Napa Valley

Image via Wikipedia

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”
― James A. Michener

Happy Friday to all my family and friends!

Fridays are either 1) really busy for me, or 2) great writing times for me.  Over the past year, I have come back to my love for writing.  I used to write my emotions down a lot when I was younger, and I found peace and comfort in those words.  Then, I stopped for a long period of time and I realized I didn’t understand myself and my feelings nearly as much as I used to when I was writing.  So, a year ago I decided to start working on a novel.  This novel may never become anything, but the act of writing is beautiful, emotional, and life-changing.  I love spilling all the contents of my heart onto a blank screen and then rearranging them into a beautiful melody.  I love rereading what I’ve written and being proud of it.  I may never write well enough to be published, but I’m certainly going to try.  I owe a lot of this confidence to my blog, because it is helping me polish my writing skills.  I have a long way to go, but I’m learning with each post I create.

If you can’t already tell from above, I woke up feeling calmed and rejuvenated this morning! I was noticing the beautiful colors of the leaves on the trees this morning, and I felt the change that I always associate with Fall.  I feel that I’m entering a very positive time in my life, and I hope that I am able to recognize all the daily blessings I receive and am able to take the time to fully appreciate each one.

 

Today is going to be  a very busy day for me.  I have DirecTV coming to set up a new DVR box, have to walk in to get an EKG done at some point today, and I have a dentist appointment this afternoon.  In the mean time, the house needs cleaning, the laundry needs to be done, and I still have a few remaining decorations to put up throughout the house.

As I fly through this busy day, I still am praying for Nicole and her family and my heart sincerely goes out to them.  I personally feel that she is at peace and is actually living her dream out now – her dream to be a mother.

I doubt I will have time to write tomorrow since I will be busy with Outrun CF, Corn festival, and then an improv show with two of our best friends!   With that said, I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed Friday and Saturday.  Remember to breathe deeply, laugh loudly, and live fully this weekend!

5 ways cystic fibrosis has positively impacted my life

Smile! Welcome Back =]
Image by blentley via Flickr

Blessed with eternal optimism, I felt a desire to write about the ways that CF impacts my life positively.  I believe I often get bogged down by the weight of the disease and forget to look at any good it has caused.  Although I would never wish cystic fibrosis on my worst enemy, I do believe that it has changed my life in some ways for the better. Below are five of the ways it has changed me or impacted me in a positive way.

5. CF causes me to exercise

As stated in a previous post, I despise exercise.  I honestly believe that if it wasn’t for cystic fibrosis being a critical part of my life, I would be sitting on the couch eating bon-bons and not worrying about exercise in the slightest.  Instead, I am forcing myself to walk and run as much as I can.  Exercise is not just beneficial for my CF lungs but also for the rest of my body!

4. CF allows me to explore new worlds through reading

This may be a stretch since I have always enjoyed reading, but having CF means being blessed with hours of reading time every day.  During my treatment time, I have been able to explore various parts of the world, solve exciting murder mysteries, and imagine myself at Hogwarts.  Even with an inherent passion for reading, I doubt I would finish as many novels if I weren’t confined to a chair with a vibrating vest on me. 

 

3. Having CF has given me a caring and supportive virtual family

Due to my quest to feel normal despite this disease, I have ended up meeting so many wonderful people online.  I have formed and am continuing to form real relationships with cysters (female CF patients) and fibros (male CF patients) from around the world.  We share in each other’s struggles, root for each other’s achievements, and celebrate life together.  The CF community, on the whole, is a very positive and uplifting community.  It is a family of people triumphing together over this disease and I’m blessed enough to be a part of it.

2. CF has led me to value the time I have on this Earth

I’m certainly not planning on going anywhere soon, but CF has made me realize time is precious.  I have written about this one a few times now, but I have to reiterate it due to its significance.  None of us have a guarantee on the amount of time they will have on this Earth, but many of us don’t realize this until it is too late.  I started realizing it in my teens and it has only become more apparent as I watch major milestones in my life pass by me.  I don’t believe many people in their 20s value time as much as they should.  If they did, I personally doubt they would spend so much of the time they’ve been given on a bathroom floor, drunk and puking.

1. CF has helped me to love as unconditionally as is humanly possible

Tying in with #2, CF has made me realize how important it is to love as fully as possible and to show my love as often as possible.  Since I do have a chronic condition, it is important that I make sure my loved ones know how I feel about them.  I forgive very quickly, and do not hold grudges.  I say “I love you” a lot and I mean it each time.  I try to spend time with friends and family as frequently as possible, and I thoroughly enjoy the time we spend together.  I love creating and capturing memories, and I try my hardest to end every conversation or experience on a positive note.  This is not saying I don’t fight, because I do.  I get mad, bossy, am sometimes controlling, and probably very hard to be around some days, but I try to fix those situations as quickly as possible.  I’m the queen of, “I’m sorry,” always said sincerely and honestly.  Apologizing when I’m wrong and loving each person for his or her personality and strengths is important – CF has helped me realize just how important it really is.

So there it is – 5 ways that cystic fibrosis has made a positive impact in my life.  I’ve wondered on numerous occasions how different I would be if it weren’t for my disease.  Although it’s impossible to be certain, I doubt I would realize or experience the five statements above if it wasn’t for CF. 

Now the question is passed on to you – in what ways have a disease or disability (it could be your own or a family member’s) changed your life for the better?  Think about it and you may be surprised at the answers.

A book full of tears and thoughts

SPOILER warning: If you have never read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger or seen the movie and you plan to do so, please skip over this blog. It will contain spoilers from the story.

I never expected when I woke up this morning, that I would be blogging about a book.  A book that, until I was coerced by my book club, I had no intention of reading. However, as I sat on my couch, sobbing through the last 60 pages or so, I knew I needed to talk/write about it.

 

This book was difficult for me to read and fascinating at the same time. I felt a connection to the main character, Henry, because he also has a genetic disease which he has no control over. Granted, CF and time traveling are just a tad different, but regardless, he can’t control what happens with his disease. I often feel like that’s the case with CF as well.  We can try everything to get it right, but sometimes we still get sick and need IVs or extra treatments. Sadly, I have been reminded of this aspect of CF again and again with friends who have suddenly become ill.

Having that connection with the main character, I was drawn in pretty quickly to the book. So as the novel continued, I found myself struggling and relating to their journey with infertility/miscarriages. This section was incredibly difficult to read.  As Henry and Clare (the two main characters) make it through 6 miscarriages, I found myself wondering if I would have stopped at one.  These thoughts may also be due to recent circumstances in the CF community, but either way it made me think. Naively, I thought that this part was going to be the most emotional section, but I was wrong.  Definitely wrong.

As the book began nearing it’s end, Henry has traveled into the future and has seen the date of his own death. He knows his death is coming, much sooner than he would like, and he begins to think about his life.  He think about his wife and the great moments they have had and also the sadness that has engulfed their lives at times. He thinks about his daughter and how 5 years with her is not enough…how he longs for more time with her.  Henry is suddenly forced into the mindset that I believe many people with chronic diseases face at one point or another: there is just simply not enough time.

I’m one of those cysters who firmly believes she will live a long time with this disease or that it will not be the disease that takes me out of this world. That being said, I have still thought about my life ending early. I have thought about saying my final goodbyes to friends and family…and to my dear husband and it tears me up to even imagine it.  So, when I read about Henry thanking his friends for their loyalty, support, and love, and when I read about his goodbye to Clare as she tries to comprehend what is happening, I bawled. I’m not talking about little tears here and there, I mean full-out sobbing. I have imagined this scenario enough that reading it seemed too real. 

A few pages further, Clare (Henry’s wife) opens up a letter that Henry has written to her right before he passed away.  He talks about how he cherished each moment they had together and he would give anything to have more time. . . and as cysters and fibros, that’s what we all desire more of..time.  We want more time in the day to do our treatments, exercise, eat a gazillion calories, and still live some sort of life. We want more time between PICC lines so that we can feel normal for a bit longer. We usually fully understand how precious life is and we desire more time with family and loved ones above all else…

So the book left me realizing that I have, in recent days, been consumed with the desire to get through the day and finally get to sleep (our days have been incredibly busy with very little besides work).  I have been missing the opportunity to live every moment to its fullest.  I have been neglecting holding my husband’s hand just a little longer while we sit on the couch. I haven’t kissed him as much as I want to and I haven’t said I love you nearly enough.  All I desire is to have him home with me right now so I can hold him and never let him go.

CF or no CF, none of us can escape time.  All that should matter is the here and the now, and a lot of us (myself included) forget this way too often.