This is what is going to get me over my speed bump. It isn’t a faster pair of Zipp wheels or a sleek Cervelo or a pairof Fastwitch racing flats – this is my IV antibiotics – my lastest ammunition against the bacteria which have decided to take up long term residence in my lungs for the past year!
As you may or may not know, I had planned to go to Florida to escape winter, to put on a few training camps, to train and to do my coaching and speaking work from there. But, we have not made it to Florida just yet!! . My lung health, as related to Cystic Fibrosis, has been very turbulent over the past year. For most of my life and professional athletic career, my lungs have been functioning at well over 100%. For the past 18 months, I have been growing a nasty bacteria called pseudomonas which is very difficult to eradicate. Since then, I have been on and off a variety of antibiotics and inhaled therapies. Despite all of this, my lung function, which measures the usable oxygen levels in the lungs, has been decreasing. After a rough race at Subaru Muskoka 70.3 last September, the doctors were convinced that I had an allergy to a bacteria in my lungs and started me on another course of drugs. But those drugs did nothing and so the allergy theory was dismissed. Then for the past 3 months, they have tried to figure out why my once perfect lungs were now functioning at about 80%. Therapies continued but my lungs continued to deteriorate until on January 1st, my symptoms worsened, my lungs were down to 72% and we began another course of antibiotics on January 5th.
On January 14, I was still feeling less than stellar with a major shortness of breath while walking and eating and doing daily activities despite 8 days on this wonder drug. Meanwhile I was still doing what I could swimming, biking and running since all of my sports are great lung therapies for clearing mucous. Of course, I was struggling doing my exercise but I always say that you do what you can with your deck of cards and my deck, at the moment, involved a bit more huffing and puffing. I went back to the CF clinic and despite 8 days of medicine, my lung function had dropped to 70% (from 72% on Jan 5th and from 98% in July!!).At that point, they wanted to admit me for IV antibiotics for 2 weeks. However, I was committed as a guest speaker on the Cruise to Run (besides, who would want to miss a Caribbean cruise) – so the doctors allowed me to go on the cruise while continuing the current course of antibiotics. I had to return to the CF Clinic on February 2nd to see how I was doing.
So now, Dave and I flush the IV lines and hook up the IV at 6 a.m., 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. and we do chest physiotherapy and my inhaled medicine a few times per day – so it is about 5-6 hrs per day of healing. As my friend Janet Fraser said –“ I am on a training camp that is all about ‘healing’ right now!!”
Today marked 2 weeks on IV antibiotics and a return to the CF Clinic. I am feeling so much better and happier and healthier but my lungs are not quite back to their baseline just yet!! The plan is to continue on IV antibiotics for a bit longer – maybe another 2 weeks so that we can really deliver the eviction notice to these bacteria.
I am good – I am content – grateful that there is a solution. I am totally confident that the antibiotics will work. They are working already. I do not act or feel unwell. I actually never thought that my lungs would ever return to their baseline of 100% so this IV therapy is a true gift and blessing. I figured that the incredible athletic success that I had been blessed with for 20 years would now be replaced with the realities of CF and I was ok with that. I have lost about 1.5 litres of oxygen in the past year and I thought that THAT would be the new me. I got used to huffing and puffing while swimming, biking and running BUT I held onto the joy that at least I COULD swim, bike and run. But now, I have huge faith that I am going to get back to either 100% or very close to it. Whatever the result is, I am determined to never let it get in the way of living full and doing my sport forever. I may be slower but I will be healthy and happy and ready to share my 20 years of triathlon with others and ready to instil hope to families with CF that there is health beyond treatment, there is joy in being treated and that we can all be the best we can be with whatever health we have. I do not wish that I did not have CF – I have it for a reason and I will be the best wife, daughter, sister, friend, athlete, coach, mentor and motivational speaker with CF that I can be at every step of the journey – the easy steps and the not so easy steps.
Thanks for your support – I will be great – I just know it!