Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Happy Birthday & The Best Gift of All…

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John Deere Gator – Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. I was a really good boy this year so Santa brought me a ton of gifts. He got me a John Deere Gator to replace my John Deer tractor that I broke from riding so much. The good thing is that I got the same brand so I can swap out the batteries and maximize riding time. I also got a lot of trucks to play with. Mom and Dad are making me keep my big, metal Tonka trunks out in the garage. Mom, Dad, and I all agree that the best gifts are donations to the CF Foundation and we received several of those to wrap up 2017.

Happy New Year

2017 was a great year I think (not really sure, because I’m new at this), but we follow a lot of CF’ers on social media and there are a ton out there that would trade places for the year I had, so I’ll take it. I only had one lung infection which was quickly addressed with antibiotics over the summer and I did not have any hospitalizations.

Hoping 2018 is even better, but this flu is super scary. This year’s flu has been one of the worst ones in recent memory and there’s still no sign of letting up. Because it’s so bad, I pretty much avoid all public places (especially indoors), and at times even friends and family. Mom and Dad remain extra careful too – washing their hands religiously and wiping down all surfaces. People who don’t fully understand the disease may think we’re weird, but we’re just trying to be safe.

It’s not you, its me.

Technically, its me, Mom, Dad, and everyone close to me that knows that colds and flu are absolutely horrible for me. So until this flu sort of moves on, you can expect me to remain in isolation – only really being seen at Bama and Pops, Williamsburg Middle School to play soccer with Dad, hiking outdoors, or at my house. Please do not invite yourself over to our house if you have a sniffly nose or think you might be sick. You’re not welcomed! If I get sick, it can lead to irreversible damage to my lungs and requires that I do double the therapy treatments.

7 Day Photo Challenge

I’m sometimes late to the viral things out there, but here’s my 7 days photo challenge. From as best I can tell, the rules are that the photos must be black and white and not feature any people or explanations. I’ll be no different than anyone else who does this challenge by adding explanations, but that’s only because this is intended to be part educational for my readers. Not pictured but probably equally as important and part of my everyday life would be Butter and Salt and Miralax.

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Turning Three Years Old

A few weeks ago, we celebrated my third birthday at Bama and Pop’s house. As you can probably imagine, my favorite gifts were the trucks, play doh, kinetic sand, and donations to the CF Foundation. Even my cousin Paige asked that instead of toys from her friends, that they make small donations to the CF Foundation which was super cool of her and her friends. Bama got  me a snow plow despite Mom and Dad’s requests for no more trucks. Since Andy was out of the country and Bama and Pop were heading out of town, my birthday was lightly attended and celebrated on Thursday night.

Uncle Andrew did stop by for a day on his way back to Hawaii from Europe so that was a nice surprise.

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Dad’s birthday chainsaw and mine from Christmas

Baby Sister

In anticipation of my sister’s arrival, Mom and I picked out a color and Dad and I taped off. Because Mom and Dad didn’t want the paint to bother my lungs, Mom took me to Bama’s house while Dad knocked out the painting. To keep things extra safe, Dad opted for Benjamin Moore Natura Zero-VOC and Zero Emissions paint and the gentleman working the counter at Potomac Paints in Arlington gave Dad the contractor discount when purchasing. Dad let it air out and I returned home to see. Looks pretty good if you ask me.

On Feb 15 at 10:00PM when Mom started having contractions, so Dad drover her to INOVA and left me at home with Bama. Aunt Rachel also went with Mom and Dad.

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Taylor James Peden –  February 16

Born February 16, 2018 at 4:25AM, she weighed 7 lbs, 10 oz and was 20 inches long. Most importantly, we doctors believe she’s healthy. Given that it was flu season, I did not go to see her at the hospital. Dad came home that afternoon to hang out with me and ensure I did my therapies while Mom and Taylor rested at the hospital. And then Mom and Dad brought home my baby sister. Her name is Taylor James Peden.

Unlike with me, Mom and Dad had a “normal” labor, delivery, and hospital experience with Taylor. Taylor was discharged about 36 hours after being delivered which is a vast improvement from my 45 days in NICU. Mom and Dad say it is a bit surreal and equally terrifying driving home with an infant after only two days of life. At two days of life, I had already had my first surgery on my bowels. In a way, Mom and Dad had been spoiled by all the great nurses from Children’s from my entry into the world and it was almost as if they were first time parents. If Mom and Dad had it to do over again, baby Taylor is certainly the way to go. Mom is doing unbelievably well also. Taylor was far more gentler than I was and didn’t give Mom too much trouble during a super quick labor. Perhaps in a future post, I’ll try to recap the differences between the two experiences.

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Here’s one more photo of baby sister trying to give me a hug and kiss.

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It’s only been a few days, so Taylor and I are still getting to know one another but I love her and I think she likes me too. I enjoy reading and singing to her, but I won’t let her use my blankies. I asked her what type of truck she likes, but she doesn’t talk. She sleeps a lot. Whenever I hear her cry or make noises I run into the room and make sure she’s okay.

Once baby Taylor opens her eyes more, I promise to post good photo of us here.

For those of you on social media…you probably can get a better fix of photos and updates by following Mom on Instagram – @bridgetpeden. Dad has an account too, but isn’t as active – @benjamin_peden.

Drug Breakthrough – Vertex Symedko

Just before Taylor arrived, I had been reading up a recent breakthrough on a new Vertex drug, Symedko. which was recently approved by the FDA. While it doesn’t specifically target my mutations, it is a step in the right direction and helps so many others fighting this horrible disease. Thanks everyone who continues to donate and support the fight.

Going to try to get some rest. It isn’t too easy with baby sister running around the house.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Happy Birthday & The Best Gift of All…

Ugh, Spoke too Soon

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Breathing in some fresh air on the front stoop

Too Soon

Put those celebratory beers away for a job well done Mom and Dad (just kidding, you can still have one). Apparently I spoke too soon with respect to all things being well on the health front. That’s the thing about cystic fibrosis which many people without knowledge of the disease fail to understand – to the naked eye, I look healthy and as though I’m doing really well, when in reality that’s partly true at best. The truth is that things are never truly 100% fine and I’ll never be 100% healthy. In this case, the doctors who “put eyes” on me said, I look great and were happy with what they saw…

Then my lab work, x-ray, and throat culture results came in after I left Children’s National. Dr. Shukla called Mom late one night while Dad wrapped up my nightly Chest Physiotherapy (CPT). My x-ray didn’t look great, my blood work showed elevated white blood cell counts, and my culture started to show staph infection in my lungs.

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Chest X-Ray

Visibly upset, Dad and I knew something was wrong. Mom became quiet, listening to Dr. Shukla closely for the next twenty minutes as he shared the diagnosis and plan. It was back on antibiotics (XXXXX) and extra CPT until I kick this infection. When taking my antibiotics, I demonstrate my super-human strength by closing my mouth, wrestling away from Dad’s grips, and spitting any antibiotic that squirts into my mouth back onto Mom and Dad’s faces. It’s quite the scene. I wonder what people would think if they saw this going down.

The Difficult Balance

Mom and Dad do a great job of keeping a clean house (weekly vacuuming, wiping down of surfaces, etc.), but when infection, sickness, or anything rears its head, Mom goes into overdrive on the cleaning and throwing anything potentially contaminated out. While Dad likes a tidy home, Mama in overdrive can be a bit overbearing/overwhelming to say the least. Dad told her it was crazy to throw everything out and replace with new, so she consulted with Dr. Shukla to ask if she was crazy. The verdict, mom is cray cray and she does not need to throw out my toothbrush each day for fear of recontamination. In all seriousness, this paranoia is not at all uncommon for parents and caregivers of those with cystic fibrosis. They want the best for us. Dad forgives you Mom, but we need to come up with a good nickname for when you kick it into overdrive.

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Scott’s Run Nature Preserve 

Recently Mom pleaded with Dad how everything – dust, dirt, germs, crowds – scares her and that she’s terrified to travel south to Dad’s family’s farm for my great grandmother’s 95th birthday party this upcoming weekend given all the rain. This is totally understandably given that Mom is a first time parent, a parent of child with CF (any disease for that matter), I have my first lung infection, etc. While Dad totally understands where Mom is coming from, he also wants me to have experiences that can’t be had in the small confines of Arlington. While Arlington is our safe haven, I bet there isn’t a cow, horse, combine, pumpkin patch, or anything like that in the entire county for me to get excited about. I know there aren’t dirt roads or ponds filled with large mouth bass, sunfish, and crappies. There is the Potomac River, but that can’t match the beauty of the James River.

All I’m really trying to say is that I get both Mom and Dad’s sides feel bad for the often stressful situation it places on them. Mom and Dad both have my safety and health as their top priority, but I think Dad errs on the side of living. That or either he misses his family far more than he’s willing to ever admit. It could also be the fact that living also allows for the guard to be let down some – not entirely because he’s still quick to swoop in and rip me off the kitchen table when I climb up there or pick me up when I fall, but there’s sort of a sense of safety for him at home.

Vest

The timing couldn’t have been better for my vest to arrive as I’m on double therapy duty until I’ve kicked the infection. By far the most expensive item in our house ($15,000), the jury is still out on when we can call the vest a good thing. Initially, it should come as no surprise that the vest is traumatic for me, my parents, and my little cousin Hayden. In a brilliant acting job, Hayden came over to wear my vest and show me that it’s not that bad/scary, but after leaving she communicated to Aunt Rachel that it just didn’t seem fair that I have to wear it all the time. While it will free Mom and Dad up from having to do manual CPT so they can do things like get dinner ready, do laundry, what-have-you, it seems so “permanent” in way. Using this vest will become so entrenched in my daily routine that it will eventually become second nature, but right not it’s just difficult to process despite the advantages it brings. I’m already crying less and less with each time I use the vest.

 

Late Gift & a Few Thanks

I have to thank Uncle P for the awesome tractor. The pedal is a bit tough to reach but the trailer is awesome and I love throwing all my trucks in there. I’ll do my best not to flip it on the hilly terrain like I did with the ATV Bama gave me when I was less than a year old. Haha.

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John Deere Tractor

 

#HTTR

 

Thanks Aunt Rae Rae for watching after me some while Bama and Pop were on their trips to New England and Charlottesville, VA.

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Me and Aunt Rae Rae

Also, huge thanks to the Gummeys for hooking me up with some solid threads. I received a lot of compliments on this sweater with the crab.

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Good weekend for fans of the DMV. Both the Nationals and Orioles made the playoffs and the Washington Redskins evened up their record to 2-2 on the season. O’s will travel to Toronto for the wild card (winner to play Texas Rangers) and Nationals host the LA Dodgers. Baltimore Ravens lost today, but don’t really count since the Orioles were the only baseball team in the area for so many years and DC has always had a football team.

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Ugh, Spoke too Soon