Surviving Home IVs As a Mom

By Janeil Whitworth

I’m no stranger to home IV antibiotics.

Actually, if I am being completely honest, I think we have gotten a little too friendly over the past decade or so. I prefer to do home IVs because I am one of those patients who goes a little nuts after being trapped in the hospital for too long. Seclusion and unlimited access to cable are not beneficial to my physical or mental well-being. I need the opportunity to be with people just as much as I need the comfort of my own bed to rest and heal completely. I’ve even gone as far as learning to access my own port-a-cath to create even further distance between the hospital and me. Plus, I enjoy the luxuries of home IVs such as creating my own schedule, eating my own food, using my own toilet paper, and coming and going as I please.

Releasing control

I’m positive I’m not the only one who struggles to release control over my disease while experiencing an exacerbation. Feeling the façade of freedom slipping away post-IV-talk, I involuntarily tighten my grip on my independence in a desperate attempt at normalcy.

In-patient admission? No way. Home IVs? Ok, I can do that. Thankfully, you can travel on home IVs, celebrate your bachelorette party on home IVs, and even graduate college on home IVs. But is it possible to successfully care for a 9-month-old baby on home IVs?

After the past few weeks of increased shortness of breath and unwavering fatigue, I agreed it was time for IVs. The reality of home IVs as a mom suddenly hit me as I exhaustedly said for the millionth time that day, “Please, don’t eat mommy’s IVs, buddy.”

I knew this was not going to be easy with a mobile, energetic baby crawling every which way, leaving a trail of alcohol pads in his path. (I think this might be the fatigue talking, but the crunchy hospital bed and one-ply toilet paper are starting to seem a little better right now.)

The last time I did home IVs, my son was 4 months old, so it made it a tad easier as he was just a chubby and adorable blob. I would set him down, hook myself up to the antibiotic-filled Eclipse ball, and he wouldn’t move. Those were the days.

There’s been very little rest this week, and admittedly, I tried my hardest to do it all even if I was feeling absolutely poisoned. In my defense, I felt my independence as a mom was slipping away once again, and the impulse to hold on tighter completely crept up on me. This way of thinking will not benefit me in the long run, neither as a mother, nor as a patient. A week has passed since I accessed my port to begin treatment, and I can see more clearly now that I am in desperate need of a different rhythm.

Finding a different rhythm

I am going to attempt to take my own advice for the remainder of treatment, including: 1) Ask for help; 2) Be easy on myself when it comes to everything else; 3) Remain grateful for the privilege of staying home. My normalcy in the coming weeks will look a little different. My parenting style will be altered as well. I need to accept that this is the price for staying home with my baby, while simultaneously being the nurse and patient. Everything needs to be taken in stride as I release my grasp and let the rest, antibiotics, and baby hugs heal me. I think this is the key to surviving home IVs with my health, sanity, and pride intact. I hope.

This blog was originally published on CF News Today.

Lessons Learned Through Parenting and CF

Guest Blog By Jeannine Ricci

Back in 2001, when I became a mother, resources on parenting
with CF were practically nonexistent. Thanks to all of the
research advancements, it’s so exciting to now see more and
more people with CF exploring the possibility of parenthood.
Because this topic is becoming more prevalent, I thought it might
be a good time to resurrect an article that I wrote 5 years ago. It
discusses my experience with talking with my children about CF
and the possibility of a shortened life expectancy. Hopefully it will
help other parents as they face this challenging subject.
At the end of the article, I give an update on my daughters
and how their experience with my CF continues to impact their
lives.

***Lessons Learned- Parenting with CF***

My CF has shaped my children’s lives for as long as they can
remember. As toddlers, they developed patience. After many
temper tantrums, they eventually learned that I had to finish my
treatments before we embarked on our day’s adventures. As
preschoolers they learned empathy. They would run to get me
tissues and water if I was having a coughing fit. Their teachers
would comment on the level of empathy they showed their
classmates and how unusual it was at such a young age. During
their school years, they are learning to become more
independent. Just last week, my older daughter surprised me by
making their lunches and helping her sister with her homework
because she knew I was not feeling well.

Since CF had been woven into their everyday lives, I took their
comfort level with my CF for granted. They knew that CF meant
coughing, treatments, and IVs. What they did not know was that
it is a life-threatening disease. I regret having not broached this
subject with them as soon as I felt they were mature enough to
handle this information. Last year my daughter’s teacher called
to tell me that he was concerned about her. She was not herself
at school. She was very distracted and seemed depressed. I
knew immediately what was bothering her. I was on IVs because
of an especially difficult exacerbation. The side effects of the
antibiotics left me on the couch most of the day. It was the
sickest she had ever seen me. We had a long discussion after the
phone call and she opened up to me and told me how she had
read something at the CF walk that stated that the life
expectancy of someone with CF was 37 years old. I was 40. It
truly broke my heart to know that I was not there to answer her
questions and ease her fears when she read this critical piece of
information. She deserved to hear this from me. As I spoke to
her, I tried to give her realistic but hopeful answers. I told her
that I wanted nothing more than to watch her and her sister
grow up and that I hoped to be there for her college graduation,
her wedding, and the birth of her children. I explained that there
are so many new medicines being discovered that would help to
make this a possibility, but I also told her that there are no
guarantees, and that is why I try so hard to keep myself as
healthy as possible.

Just as my children have always incorporated important life
lessons from my illness into their lives, I believe that this
discussion will only further strengthen their character. It will
teach them the value of treating every day as a gift. I hope my
experience encourages other parents with CF to be prepared to
have this pivotal discussion with their children. No matter how
difficult it may seem, it will be worth the peace of mind knowing
that you will be the one delivering this information, ready to help
them cope with their fears.

Here are some guidelines from Lisa C. Greene, a mom of two
children with CF and co-author with Foster Cline, M.D. of the book
Parenting Children with Health Issues (www.PCWHI.com)

• Pivotal parenting moments can take us by surprise, so be
prepared ahead of time. Our answers should be honest, calm,
matter-of-fact, and hopeful. We shouldn’t use terms like “fatal”
or “life-shortening” nor should we make empty promises. Use
terms like “healthier” rather than “healthy,” “more likely to live a
long time” rather than “will live a long time.”

• We need to try our best not to let our own fears and worries
show, both in our words and in our body language. Children pick
up on (and tend to mirror) their parents’ emotional cues,
especially when they are young. If you are having trouble
controlling your own emotions about these tough issues,
counseling might be helpful.

• At some point, we do need to address the issue of life
expectancy. Hopefully, this will be clarified by around the age of
eight (around 3rd grade) depending on the maturity of your
child. One way to address this issue is to ask your child questions
to open up dialogue. Some examples are:
“How much do you know about CF?”
“How are you handling it?”
“Is there anything about CF that worries you?”

With a little awareness and preparation, you can make talking
about these difficult issues a positive experience. Relationships
can grow closer when people go through tough times together.

Update: 5 Years Later
It’s no surprise that this disease has continued to shape my
daughters’ lives over the past 5 years. There’s no denying that my CF, anxiety, and depression have caused many hardships for my family. And it’s
difficult not get swallowed up in the guilt of knowing that there
are times that I’m not able to be the mom that I desire to be, the
mom that they deserve. During these times, I try my best to
focus on the positive ways CF has touched their lives.

The attributes of fortitude and courage were fostered as they
watched my battle with CF progression as it inched its way closer
and closer to the center of my life–our lives–demanding more
attention. And then, in November of 2014, they witnessed hope
being transformed into tangible reality as I swallowed my first
dose of Kalydeco. This new reality has allowed them to more
confidently envision me by their sides in the distant future. They
have embraced this gift with a deep sense of gratitude that can
only be felt when someone has experienced the threat of the
unbearable alternative.

They have watched as this same gratitude has fueled my desire
to help others who are still waiting for their miracle. At the young
ages of 15 and 17, they possess a keen understanding of the
intrinsic value in every life, and that the amount of money in
someone’s bank account or what type of insurance they have
should not be dictating access to these life-saving medications.

They have learned the importance of taking action and
advocating for others, even if your voice is seemingly
overpowered by others. They have both participated in the Cystic
Fibrosis Foundation’s Teen Advocacy Days in Washington D.C.
the last few years, meeting with members of Congress and
stressing the importance of ensuring adequate healthcare
coverage for all. They recognize the gifts both given and received when you touch a person’s life indelibly and both of my daughters have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the healthcare field. 

I’m so proud of them as I watch them develop into
compassionate, strong, young women, inspired to make their
mark on this world; a mark that undoubtedly would not be so
deep and impactful if it wasn’t for the valuable life lessons they
have gleaned from having someone they love with CF.

Cystic Fibrosis and Infertility

https://www.news-medical.net/health/Cystic-Fibrosis-and-Infertility.aspx

Cystic fibrosis is an illness best known for causing frequent lung infections and chronic breathing problems. However, it affects organs and tissues throughout the body, including the urogenital system. Continue reading Cystic Fibrosis and Infertility

Making it Matter Ep. 18

Making it Matter Ep. 18 – Cystic Fibrosis and Long Term Relationships

Julia and I answer an email from a listener who asks about long term relationships, marriage and kids. Admittedly, neither Julia nor I are even close to that point in our lives, but we do discuss some of the things that are Continue reading Making it Matter Ep. 18

(Step)Parenting with CF

By Amy Braid

When I was younger I always dreamed of having a family.  Dinner would be on the table every night even though I worked full time.  My husband would help the kids with homework and projects after working all day too.  We would be the “perfect” American family.  Just like all those 50s and 60s TV shows that we loved and grew up with.

Then I grew up…My family didn’t form the way I envisioned it would.  I married a man with two kids.  I inherited them and all that comes with them – minus bio-mom drama.  I was thrown into the mix when they were 7 and 13.  Now they are 14 and 20.  The 20 year old has never lived with us full time, only weekends.  The 14 year old lives with us full time and calls me mom.  Long story and nothing I can share here, sorry folks.  Anyway, being the parent of a teen is rough, being the parent of a teen who is not yours is rough, maybe even more so?  I struggle every day with decisions.  Are these the right ones to make?  Am I only making this choice because I didn’t give birth to her? Would these little things not bother me if she was my blood?  Will I ever feel like she is “mine?”

Like I said, the stress of dealing with a teen is massive, but stress is horrible on the body.  And then there is the whole getting into a groove and wham hospital time!  Two weeks to screw up your well-oiled almost functioning great machine of a household.  It really does complicate things!  You have a great schedule down, things are running smooth.  Projects are getting done, homework is completed, and grades are decent.  Then the cold hits, probably brought home from school.  It travels to your chest and the next thing you know it is time for some IV antibiotics and a two week stay in your local club med.  Sure you get waited on hand and foot, and there is no laundry or dishes to be done.  You can watch TV all day and not feel like you should be doing chores.  It is almost like a mini vacation. Almost.

Every day you are still checking on homework via texts.  Asking if there are projects that need to be done.  Or coordinating extracurricular activities.  Or making sure that going out with friends on the weekends doesn’t mean that no homework and studying gets done.  Making sure chores are still being completed and allowances are still being paid.  Because though your husband is capable of doing all this, he isn’t used to it.  You are the “homework hounder” and without you things tend to get forgotten.

So that little mini vacation is no more.  You are now worrying about what you are missing at home and if things are going to be a mess when you get out.  That well-oiled machine is starting to stick and make noises.  And once you get back out and start oiling it again, it takes a few weeks if not longer to almost be back to normal.  Until the next time you need to go away.

Small World by Mark Levine

I couldn’t believe it. I was walking around the pool at a resort in Mexico and I noticed a woman reading a newsletter that looked very familiar.  As the subscription manager of the CF Roundtable, I know that we send out less than 1300 copies around the world per quarter. The odds seemed slim Continue reading Small World by Mark Levine

Ask Your Questions–From Jeanie Hanley

Do you have questions for our CF Roundtable columnists?
The US Adult CF Assn (USACFA) publishes CF Roundtable. USACFA’s directors consist of all adults with CF. Some of our columnists, although not directors, make up an important part of USACFA and CF Roundtable. Continue reading Ask Your Questions–From Jeanie Hanley

Making the Move: Moving My Daughter into College

Guest Blog By Mark A. Levine
Last month we moved our daughter Brooke into college. It was quite emotional and very exciting. It was the last stage of a roller-coaster ride of a process, from campus tours to standardized testing to essays and applications. Then there was waiting to hear from schools, discussions on which one Continue reading Making the Move: Moving My Daughter into College

CF Discovery Series ™ – 2012–Parenting When You have Cystic Fibrosis!

Presented by Laura Steuer, M.A. Education, Stanford
Stanford Adult Cystic Fibrosis Advisory Council, Chairperson

When:                  Tuesday, September 11, 2012 from  6pm-8pm
For:
                    CF patients, family members and caregivers Continue reading CF Discovery Series ™ – 2012–Parenting When You have Cystic Fibrosis!