The care of patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) has seen amazing advances in the past few years, made in part through the development of CFTR modulators. However, the recognition of the frequency of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in our patients is just beginning to emerge. Only recently have publications noted the excessively high frequency of GI issues. Continue reading Advancing the GI frontier for patients with CF
If you have a chronic lung condition, you’ll need to protect your lungs from being further irritated by unhealthy air. We’ve put together a list of ways to help protect your lungs against unhealthy air using information from the American Lung Association.
Check the daily air pollutant forecasts.
There are sites on the Internet and cellphone apps where you can find out the levels of air pollution in your local area. Checking these daily can help you plan your week, helping you avoid being outside or limit your time outside when the pollution levels are high.
Try both indoor and outdoor exercise.
If pollutions levels are high then avoid exercising outside. Either visit your local gym or exercise at home. Indoor shopping malls are good locations for indoor walking if you can’t go outside. Try not to exercise in places where there is a high level of traffic — traffic fumes can pollute areas up to a third of a mile away.
Reduce your carbon footprint.
Using less electricity at home is one way to reduce your carbon footprint which helps to create healthy air for everyone. Reducing the number of car trips you make will also help. Travel by bicycle or public transport, or car share instead. Walk short distances instead of jumping in the car.
Don’t burn trash or wood.
The ash and soot caused by the burning of wood and trash contribute to particle pollution in the atmosphere.
Don’t use gasoline-powered yard equipment.
Gasoline-powered lawn mowers, trimmers, and leaf blowers all add to the air pollution and may irritate your lungs while carrying out your yard chores.
Encourage others to reduce their carbon footprint.
Pressurize your local schools to run their buses according to the Clean School Bus Campaign. That means not leaving the engine running while waiting outside buildings and applying for funding for projects helping to reduce emissions.
Ask friends, family, and neighbors to reduce their energy use.
Stay away from smokers.
Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home or place of work. Try to avoid outdoor places where people smoke cigarettes.
Be an advocate.
Be an advocate for healthier air, supporting local and national campaigns to improve the environment and reduce emissions.
Original article: https://cysticfibrosisnewstoday.com/2017/12/12/8-tips-for-protecting-your-lungs-from-unhealthy-air-2/?utm_source=Cystic+Fibrosis&utm_campaign=a772c5a83f-RSS_THURSDAY_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b075749015-a772c5a83f-71418393
Arch Biopartners recently completed a good manufacturing practice (GMP) production campaign for AB569, a potential inhalation treatment for antibiotic-resistant bacterial lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other conditions. The campaign, intended to ensure the quality of the investigative therapy, was directed by Dalton Pharma Services.
AB569 is composed of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and sodium nitrite, two compounds approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in people. AB569 can be administered alone or in combination with other compounds to treat multi-drug resistant bacterial infections that can cause reduced lung function.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the most common bacterial infections in patients with respiratory diseases, including CF, COPD, and pneumonia.
In preclinical studies, AB569 was shown to be capable of killing drug-resistant bacteria like P. aeruginosa and other common pathogens associated with chronic lung infections.
The company also announced that a Phase 1 clinical trial to investigate the safety and pharmacokinetic profile of AB569, planned to start in January, will be conducted at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center (CVAMC). According to an Arch Biopartners press release, Ralph Panos, chief of medicine at CVAMC, will lead the trial.
Three escalating doses of nebulized AB569 will be used to evaluate tolerance to the treatment in about 25 healthy volunteers. Each will be given a single administration of nebulized AB569 to characterize the pharmacokinetic profile of plasma nitrite and nitrate metabolites, exhaled nitric oxide, and circulating hemoglobin.
Pharmacokinetics studies how a drug is absorbed, distributed and metabolized in, and expelled by, the body.
Should the Phase 1 trial in volunteers be successful, Arch Biopartners plans to move its AB569 program into a Phase 2 trial to test its effectiveness in treating chronic P.aeruginosa infections in COPD patients.
AB569 received orphan drug status by the FDA in November 2015 as a potential treatment of P. aeruginosa lung infections in CF patients. Orphan drug status is given to investigative medicines intended for people with rare diseases to speed their development and testing.
Women with CF, we need your expertise and opinions!
Become a member of the CF-Patient Task Force to discuss sexual and reproductive health issues that affect women with CF. As patients with CF live longer, CFReSHC is committed to patient-engaged research through partnerships with people with CF, researchers, and advocates. Continue reading The Cystic Fibrosis Reproductive & Sexual Health Collaborative (CFReSHC)
Researchers from the University of Zurich have determined the structure of a chloride channel, which could be a target for new drugs to treat cystic fibrosis.
Researchers at the University of Zurich have found a new target for future cystic fibrosis treatments. The study, published in Nature, has uncovered the structure of a protein that could help to correct the mechanism underlying the buildup of sticky mucus in patients’ lungs. This could give rise to a new wave of therapeutics for the condition, which at the moment lacks disease-modifying treatments.
Cystic fibrosis is a severe genetic disease affecting the lungs, for which there is currently no cure. It is caused by a malfunctioning chloride channel, CFTR, which prevents the secretion of chloride by cells, leading to the production of thick, sticky mucus in the lung. The condition affects around 70,000 people worldwide, who suffer from chronic infections and require daily physiotherapy.
However, one potential approach to treat cystic fibrosis is to activate the calcium-activated chloride channel, TMEM16A, as an alternative route for chloride efflux. As TMEM16A is located within the same epithelium as CFTR, its activation could rehydrate the mucus layer. The research group used cryo-electron microscopy to decipher the structure of TMEM16A, which is part of a protein family that facilitates the flow of negatively charged ions or lipids across the cell membrane.
TMEM16A is found in many of our organs, playing a key role in muscle contraction and pain perception, as well as in the lungs. It forms an hourglass-shaped protein-enclosed channel, which when bound by positively charged calcium ions, opens to let chloride ions to pass through the membrane.
Current treatments for cystic fibrosis include bronchodilators, mucus thinners, antibiotics, and physiotherapy, which only control symptoms. However, biotechs around Europe are beginning to make progress, with ProQR completing a Phase Ib trial and Galapagos and Abbvie’s triple combination therapy entering Phase I. Antabio has also received €7.6M from CARB-X to develop a new antibiotic against Pseudomonas infections.
The identification of a new target provides patients and biotechs alike with renewed hope of new and effective cystic fibrosis treatments, or even a cure. It will be interesting to see whether small molecules or gene therapy specialists could take advantage of this information.
Original article: https://labiotech.eu/cystic-fibrosis-treatment-target/
By: Holly Beasley
Approaching college while living with Cystic Fibrosis can be undoubtedly frightening. Although, great challenges bring great rewards. This is what I have come to learn during my time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While I am only a sophomore at the university currently, I hope the knowledge I have gathered through my journey thus far will serve to touch others with CF.
I believe that living with Cystic Fibrosis requires honesty with yourself and others. Therefore, I must be completely honest with you regarding the college experience while living with CF. I do not aim to discourage but to instead challenge you to prevail. I think a unique strength was placed within all of us with Cystic Fibrosis to surmount any challenge that presents itself in our lives. One of these being college, if you so choose.
College with Cystic Fibrosis will certainly not always be easy. As you may know, sick days, lengthy therapy routines, and hospitalizations come with the territory. Combine all of this with the pursuit of higher education and one can become overwhelmed. Balance and prioritization become key in the life of a college student with CF. I know I have spent countless nights reading my textbook while my Vest was simultaneously shaking my lungs. There have also been times when I completed assignments while lying in my hospital bed. This is where balance comes in to play. Finding a system that makes time for both school and health care is crucial, but I want you to be certain that it is also achievable. Despite some extra setbacks and effort, I finished reading all of those pages in my textbook and an assignment has yet to be turned in late. Now, this is where prioritization becomes a major factor. In order to be an efficient student, your health must come first. If doing both becomes too taxing on your body, please remember that it is ok to give yourself a break from school. This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn as a student who always strives for perfect grades. The times I have put school before my health, it has never worked in my favor. I only became sicker, causing a worse impact on my academic performance than if I would have taken the time to recover initially. Carving an hour or so out of my day for therapy when I first noticed signs of sickness would have been much easier than the eventual hospitalizations that resulted from the neglect of this fact. Always put your health first. The aspirations you are seeking through your college journey can only become a reality if you are alive and well to participate in these realized dreams.
All of this may seem rather challenging. So how does all of this ultimately become rewarding? Well, that is entirely up to you. I’d like to give some insight on how this process has rewarded me, personally. This might be the same reasoning that inspires you to pursue higher education or you might have a unique drive that motivates you. Either way, hone in on this sense of why it is all worth it.
Each day attending college rewards me because it serves as a constant reminder that I am equally as capable as anyone without Cystic Fibrosis. We are all different and many of us have encountered at least some degree of a setback in our lives. Mine just happens to be Cystic Fibrosis, but I can work with this along-side my peers. One classmate may have had a parent pass away, another battled a different disease or any other challenge that life may present. Yet, we can all come together in one classroom in order to learn and grow as equals. College allows me to reflect on the fact that the circumstances life presented me with do not define me as lesser. Instead, they exist to strengthen me so that I may become more. Life with Cystic Fibrosis has not been easy and this has never been truer than in my time at college. As I sit here now, I can still honestly say that I am happy to have Cystic Fibrosis. We are forced to realize how special we truly are when challenged by this disease. Yes, I have experienced setbacks and hard times while in college. They have not defeated me and they will not defeat you. At times, I may have to exert extra effort because of my CF. The reward of knowing that I got the job done regardless is much greater than any challenge that college or Cystic Fibrosis may introduce.
PTEN is best known as a tumor suppressor, a type of protein that protects cells from growing uncontrollably and becoming cancerous. But according to a new study from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), PTEN has a second, previously unknown talent: working with another protein, CFTR, it also keeps lung tissue free and clear of potentially dangerous infections.
The findings, published in Immunity, explain why people with cystic fibrosis are particularly prone to respiratory infections—and suggest a new approach to treatment.
A quarter-century ago, researchers discovered that cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the CFTR gene, which makes an eponymous protein that transports chloride ions in and out of the cell. Without ion transport, mucus in the lung becomes thicker and stickier and traps bacteria—especially Pseudomonas—in the lung. The trapped bacteria exacerbate the body’s inflammatory response, leading to persistent, debilitating infections.
But newer research suggests CFTR mutations also encourage infections through a completely different manner.
“Recent findings suggested that cells with CFTR mutations have a weaker response to bacteria, reducing their ability to clear infections and augmenting inflammation,” said lead author Sebastián A. Riquelme, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at CUMC. “This was interesting because it pointed to a parallel deregulated immune mechanism that contributes to airway destruction, beyond CFTR’s effect on mucus.”
That’s where PTEN comes into play. “We had no idea that PTEN was involved in cystic fibrosis,” said study leader Alice Prince, MD, professor of pediatrics (in pharmacology). “We were studying mice that lack a form of PTEN and noticed that they had a severe inflammatory response to Pseudomonas and diminished clearance that looked a lot like what we see in patients with cystic fibrosis.”
Delving deeper, the CUMC team discovered that when PTEN is located on the surface of lung and immune cells, it helps clear Pseudomonas bacteria and keeps the inflammatory response in check. But PTEN can do this only when it’s attached to CFTR.
And in most cases of cystic fibrosis, little CFTR finds it way to the cell surface. As a result, the duo fail to connect, and Pseudomonas run wild.
As it happens, the latest generation of cystic fibrosis drugs push mutated CFTR to the cell surface, with the aim of improving chloride channel function and reducing a buildup of mucus. The new findings suggest that it might be beneficial to coax nonfunctional CFTR to the surface as well, since even abnormal CFTR can work with PTEN to fight infections, according to the researchers.
“Another idea is to find drugs that improve PTEN membrane anti-inflammatory activity directly,” said Dr. Riquelme. “There are several PTEN promotors under investigation as cancer treatments that might prove useful in cystic fibrosis.”
The study also raises the possibility that PTEN might have something to do with the increased risk of gastrointestinal cancer in cystic fibrosis patients. “With better clinical care, these patients are living much longer, and we’re seeing a rise in gastrointestinal cancers,” said Dr. Prince. “Some studies suggest that CFTR may be a tumor suppressor. Our work offers an alternative hypothesis, where CFTR mutations and lack of its partner, PTEN, might be driving this cancer in patients with cystic fibrosis.”
The paper is titled, “Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator attaches tumor suppressor PTEN to the membrane and promotes anti Pseudomonas aeruginosa immunity.”
For journal article click here:
An interview with Pamela Scarborough, conducted by James Ives, MPsych
Please give an overview of the role of exercise in cystic fibrosis (CF)
We know that exercise is beneficial in helping someone to maintain their lung function, stay strong and active and maintain a good quality of life. We also know that exercise can complement ‘airway clearance techniques’ – breathing exercises prescribed by physiotherapists to help clear the lungs of mucus.
As well as benefitting lung function, exercise can help to address other complications of CF such as low bone mineral density, CF-related diabetes, low back pain, postural problems and stress incontinence.
Then, there are many other wonderful benefits such as improved mood and sleep, which is important for someone with a life-limiting condition.
Without exercise, what other methods are used to help CF patients clear the mucous that builds up in their lungs?
As physios, we use a wide range of approaches. The traditional methods that people associate with CF physio are postural drainage, percussion and active cycle breathing techniques − deep breathing exercises to open up the airways of the lungs in order to get behind sputum and get it moving so that it can be cleared with a huff or a cough.
However, we are increasingly using other techniques, for example, oscillatory devices such as a flutter or an acapella; positive expiratory pressure devices such as the Pari PEP; or different breathing exercises such as autogenic drainage. There is also a high-frequency chest wall oscillating vest, which is like a life jacket that vibrates. The aim of all physio techniques is to open up the airways, loosen the mucus, and make it easier to clear.
How important do you think physiotherapy is for people with CF? How prevalent is exercise therapy in CF treatment?
Physio is a cornerstone of CF care and has always been recognized as having a very important role to play. Even from point of diagnosis, when a child may be asymptomatic with their chest, their parents are still taught to engage them in exercise and to get them moving around to make sure they’re maximizing ventilation of the lungs and helping to move any sputum that’s there.
The wide-ranging benefits of exercise on health are continuing to emerge. Throughout my professional career, I have seen people who have come from active families and the fitter they were when they were younger, the better outcome they have later down the line; they’re still functioning at a higher level because they had that training in their younger years.
People are seeing exercise as another way to help control their health, and it is also something that’s more normal to do and that they can do socially with their peers. Someone with CF often has a huge amount of treatment to undertake, a lot of which can be unpleasant, so exercise can be preferable as it is something that can be enjoyable. Every time we see a patient, we ask them about what they are managing to do from an exercise point of view.
What are the main differences between workouts that are specifically designed for CF patients, as opposed to just standard workout routines?
We don’t know exactly how exercise programmes for someone with CF should vary from the normal population; we still need more research to prove this – so what we’re saying is that people with CF should be doing the same amount of cardiovascular exercise and strength and conditioning training as recommended in the national guidelines for the healthy population.
However, because of the factors I mentioned before − that people with CF are very likely to suffer from postural problems, low back pain, stress incontinence and low bone mineral density, etc − physios prescribe exercise programs that make sure we’re addressing these issues before they become a problem, or if they are a problem, that the need is met.
Why is it important to have a personalized exercise routine and what range of exercise routines are available on Pactster?
It is important to have a personalized exercise regime because we are all different; we all have different interests and we all have different needs. There is a lot of pressure on people with CF to exercise for health benefits, so we must find a way to make it enjoyable and effective for them. We need to have exercise that is engaging and does not just feel like treatment. It needs to feel like it is going to be fun, as well as meeting the patient’s needs and be easy to integrate into a daily routine.
With a lot of the workouts we have on Pactster, we have really tried to normalize exercise. We know that exercise is medicine, but we want it to be something fun and normal that everybody does. We have used physios and people with CF who are qualified fitness instructors as instructors in the videos; but we film the videos out of the hospital setting, in normal clothes and cover popular exercise disciplines such as yoga, mixed martial arts, pilates, circuits and high-intensity interval training. We are creating more videos to cater for people of different ages and interests, and throughout different stages of the disease.
We are hoping that Pactster will overcome the usual barriers that put people off exercising, like lack of time and money, but that it will also make exercise easier for people who may struggle with low mood, find it hard to get out of the house because they are dependent on oxygen or equipment, have a compromised immune system or who may be too self-conscious to go to the gym. Some people with CF find group classes embarrassing because people may turn and look at them if they start coughing.
Pactster has been designed to overcome these barriers, so that people can gain confidence exercising in their home environments and be reassured that they’re exercising in a safe way, supported by someone who understands their condition.
Zelda and Leah, two CF physios from The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust
Please give an overview of Pactster and the unique features that you bring to CF physiotherapy?
Pactster offers health-specific exercise videos filmed with specialist instructors alongside community and motivational support. Our exercise videos have been filmed with CF physiotherapists and people with CF who are qualified instructors; and have been approved by the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Cystic Fibrosis.
We want people to be inspired by seeing someone with the same condition as them on screen, sharing their knowledge of how to use exercise to take control of their disease.
Currently, in the videos we have on Pactster, the CF instructors are quite highly functioning, but we’re creating new videos that will include people with more advanced disease and people who are pre- or post-transplant, as well as families and kids. Even with more advanced disease, there are still so many fitness role models with CF who who are phenomenal in what they achieve given the challenges that they face, and who have so much knowledge to share.
Pactster gives the opportunity for people with CF to workout alone or with others in a group setting, this is an important feature as people with CF are unable to meet one another face-to-face due to a risk of cross infection which can significantly impact life expectancy.
These group workouts can be facilitated by a person with CF or by a physio. The good thing about this is that it provides an opportunity for peer support, or if a physio is running the session it may have prevent the need for a hospital visit.
Group workouts are also about motivating and inspiring others as well as providing accountability, enjoyment, and the opportunity for learning. We are currently developing the behaviour change features on Pactster to make it easier to stick to an exercise regime.
Group, online workout has an unlimited number of people who are able to attend
Are there any limitations to the workouts? Do they need specific equipment? I’m guessing these are all open access to all CF patients?
In the UK, our arrangement with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust means that all people with CF, as well as their caregivers and physios can have free access to Pactster. Due to the way CF care is delivered in the UK, it is expected that anyone with CF coming onto the platform would have already been seen by a specialist in a CF centre and that they would have had conversations with their physio about the right amount and type of exercise necessary, as well as how to exercise safely.
It is expected that people come to the platform with some understanding of exercise and then they can participate in what they feel is right for them. Maybe they’ll try something they haven’t tried before because it’s been put right in front of them and it’s easy to do.
Access is free and the equipment that you need to use may vary from one exercise discipline to another. Some will require more hand weights, but you can improvise with a book or a can, for example. There’s also a kettle bell workout on there, if that’s what people are interested in. Generally, most of the exercises require an exercise mat, but not very much equipment after that.
Is it also open access to patients outside of the UK?
There is a monthly subscription of five pounds per month if you’re outside of the UK, but our aim is to try and make it free. As a British person, I believe in the NHS and I believe it is wonderful that healthcare can be free at the point of access.
I would love to make Pactster free for anyone who needs it because we want to reduce as many barriers as possible for someone exercising. Although it’s not much of a financial barrier, making payments is still a barrier for some people. We’ve got people who have signed up from other places around the world, but people are already asking whether there is going to be a similar arrangement in Germany, South Africa, or America and I’d like to find a way to make sure that we can make it free for them.
Will you expand the exercise routines and physiotherapy for other conditions in the future or are you focusing primarily on CF?
I’m predominately a CF physio by background and coincidentally, one of my best friends has CF, so I have a very strong personal attachment to creating this for people with CF and I want to see it working, being a huge success and making a difference.
I do feel that being able to offer specialized exercise videos to someone in their home is incredibly important, as well as being able to provide remote physio support and to connect people who are going through similar conditions. Once we are happy that we have CF working as well as we want it to from a behavior change point of view, as well as videos covering all stages of life from point of diagnosis through to end of life, then yes, we are looking to provide the same service in collaboration with other hospitals or charities for other health conditions.
One example, which we think would be our next step would be working with people with breast cancer as we know exercise is a very important therapeutic intervention for people with breast cancer. Also, at different points of life from diagnosis, pre-mastectomy, post-mastectomy, chemo and radiotherapy, there are lots of barriers to exercise and lots of reasons that exercise needs to be tailored at different points for different needs. The breast cancer population would be another example of a population that we’d like to support using Pactster.
What would you like to see as the future of physiotherapy treatment for CF patients, both in the UK and globally?
I would like physio to be as easily integrated into someone’s life as it can possibly be and every treatment to be as effective as possible. I believe that is about personalizing care and looking at different ways to support people in different settings − at home, in hospital and in the community. I also believe it’s about tailoring our treatment and making it the best we can through creating more of an evidence base and not being afraid to progress with things. Physio is a difficult, laborious task for someone with CF and if we can make it as streamlined, personalized and effective as possible, then that would be awesome.
Ideally, I don’t want people to have to do physio. I want there to be a cure for CF, but so long as that is not the case, then let’s make the therapy the best we possibly can. I’m excited to see where things go from a digital health point of view, because I think there’s potentially lots of different things we can do.
Where can readers find more information?
- For more information on pacster: https://www.pactster.com/
About Pamela Scarborough
Pamela has been a phyiotherapist in the NHS for 15 years, predominantly working with people with cystic fibrosis. Pamela completed a Master’s looking at yoga for thoracic kyphosis and lower back pain in CF, as well as studying adherence and behaviour change in greater detail. Here, she most enjoyed researching and presenting in those areas, as well as teaching others, sharing new information and approaches on adherence and yoga within the community.
Since then Pamela has been working on Pactster, where she enjoys the creativity of a start-up environment and is excited about the potential of digital health in improving quality and delivery of care. She finds it incredibly satisfying to see people using Pactster and finding it beneficial.
The US Adult CF Association (USACFA) is excited to announce our recipients of the Lauren Melissa Kelly Scholarship for the Spring of 2018.
In our evaluation, we look for students who demonstrate tremendous academic achievement, community involvement and a powerful understanding of how having CF matched with these achievements places them in a unique situation to gain leadership roles within the community. Our scholarship is open to all pursuing any degree, from associates to Ph.Ds. We believe that any higher education is a strong foundation for advocacy and involvement in CF.
We are pleased to announce Hannah Buck and Mary Grace Bernard as the recipients of this semesters’ scholarship. Congratulations to them! They will be awarded $2500 each.
Both of our recipients demonstrated the leadership, intelligence, and drive of Lauren Melissa Kelly. We at USACFA look forward to seeing them further develop their leadership and advocacy in the cystic fibrosis community.
We are also pleased to award runner-up scholarships in the amount of $250 to five deserving applicants: Elizabeth Shea, Chloe Creager, Rebekah Weigner, Holly Beasley and Christopher Davis, Jr.
We are excited to announce more scholarship opportunities coming soon! Please stay tuned for more information. For questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
Guest Blog By: Lauren Jones Hunsaker
Most of us have had to suffer through a holiday admission at one point. It’s a reality of our disease, which, for most of us, never made a habit of consulting our social calendars before burdening us with an exacerbation. I’ve spent several Christmases, birthdays, wedding anniversaries and many-a-Thanksgiving admitted. As far back as middle school, most of my holidays were spent in the hospital simply because it was an advantageous time for an admission.
It’s not an easy thing to endure for kids or adults. On a good day, being in the hospital is boring, uncomfortable and tedious. The holidays magnify our misery by adding self-pity and a serious case of F.O.M.O. to the litany of grievances. However, there are a few easy things you can do to weather the emotional storm of a holiday admission:
- Make a To Do List. While a day of nothing but channel-changing can seem never ending, a daily to-do list can help compartmentalize your day and alleviate the monotony of an admission. Reading, exercising, playing games or journaling at specific times can be helpful distractions and keep you from staring wistfully out of your window.
- Enjoy Holiday T.V. Ordinarily, I don’t watch a lot of television. But during the holidays there are so many classic movies, parades and specials on, allow yourself to indulge in the holiday deluge. If nothing else, it helps pass the time and connects you to the outside world (“Hey, did you catch It’s a Wonderful Life for the sixteenth time on NBC?” “I sure did!” “I don’t really understand why ‘Hee Haw!’ is funny.” “Me either, but Clarence is my favorite.”).
- Schedule Holiday Events Post-Discharge. The holidays are the holidays because of family. The pilgrims will not cast a pox on your house if you host Thanksgiving the following weekend so ask family members if they are willing to attend a second family gathering after your discharge. This gives you something to look forward to and helps temper loneliness while your family memorializes turkey carving on Facebook Live.
- Try a Little Empathy. No one wants to be in a hospital on Christmas, including doctors, nurses and nurse’s assistants. I know what you’re thinking – “they’re getting paid to be there.” And so as to preempt your next argument, yes, some are getting paid a higher wage for working on a holiday. But remember that many don’t have a choice in their work schedules, just as we don’t have a choice as to when we’re admitted. Staff are away from their families and missing holiday gatherings so they can take care of patients. Take a moment to tell a favorite nurse thank you for working on the holiday. Sometimes making someone else feel better makes you feel better too.
- Order in a Special Meal. Diet restrictions permitting, indulge in a holiday craving (i.e., turkey with stuffing, Chinese takeout, multiple desserts). Your doctors will love that you’re packing in some extra calories and it’ll give you a break from repetitious hospital food.
- Take Advantage of Tech. Twenty years ago, when we would emerge from an admission (shielding our eyes from the blazing sun, unaccustomed to human life), we had no idea what had occurred during our fourteen days of solitude. Gone are the days. With social media and constant connectivity, we rarely experience the same isolation we once did. Use today’s technology to cyber-attend family events from afar—FaceTime into family dinner or Skype into religious celebrations. Social media can sometimes (and ironically) exacerbate loneliness, but use its advantages to stay connected during the holidays. Feeling included can boost morale and help you power through an admission.