In March 2015 I finally heard the words that I had been waiting 18 months to hear: “We would like to activate you on the waiting list for a double lung transplant.” Music to my ears, and my old tired worn-out CF lungs. I'm 39 years old now and it's time for that Hail Mary pass, if I am so blessed to receive it, as all the CF treatments in the world have been exhausted on my worn out body.
As a child growing up with three siblings, I did all the things that other children of the '80s were doing. We rode our bikes past dusk, went rollerblading around town and built a skateboard half-pipe in our backyard. We played roller hockey in the street, basketball at the high school, ran the track just to see how fast our skinny knobby knees could run a mile, swam at the local pool, and of course, played in our own backyard. During grade school, I also played recreational soccer, which I took a long hiatus from but came back to in college.
My Exercise Revolution
I spent nights at college running from league to league, playing up to three games in one evening. I would often finish a roller hockey game, then skate to soccer and then hike to the pool.
I had finally awakened my competitive spirit. My college years were the most active years of my life.
After graduation, I started working full time. I found a workout partner and we took our lunch breaks at PE classes at the local community college. During winter months, we signed up for yoga and weightlifting after work. I also played in an adult indoor soccer league. By the time I got married at 25, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life; but I had to work extra hard at it. My CF lungs were getting more diseased and my FEV1 slowly dipped year by year, no matter my compliance or exercise regimen.
A Shift in Priorities
When I was 28 years old, taking care of my infant twins became my life. I had to give up rigorous exercise. My idea of exercising was walking around the block, pushing a double stroller.
Me, the kids, Paul and our dog, Orion, at the Sacramento Great Strides walk in 2005.
When the twins were 5 years old, in 2009, I decided to take up running. I was running nine miles a week to get ready for my 5K race in October 2010. I ran with an oxygen tank strapped to my back cranked up to five liters per minute. I finished the 5K in less than 50 minutes. My legs felt stronger, but my FEV1 was still declining. I decided running was not for me after a 12 month trial.
Over the last four years, I have become very sedentary. I used to bike to drop off the twins at a variety of local after-school activities, but eventually I started driving them to said activities. As my health declined, I focused on raising my twins and keeping up with the daily regimen of CF treatments. In the winter of 2015, when I was being considered for lung transplantation, the team asked me to start exercising again. This seemed daunting as I was chained to oxygen 24/7, but I agreed.
My husband, Paul, and me at the Sacramento Cowtown 5K in 2010.
As my CF has progressed, I've begun to view my exercise revolution from college as just a part of my exercise evolution of life.
Today, my exercise goals are very different than those of my college days. I commit to walking half a mile around the block. I have also added squats to my routine. It's very important to have strong legs and a strong core before transplant because you cannot use your arms for stabilization due to the placement of the surgery site.
When I think about exercise post-transplant, I am ecstatic. I can't wait to hit the gym. I am looking forward to exercising like a beast and turning my limp extremities into lean mean muscle machines. But most of all, I can't wait to dance, play soccer, swim and keep up with my 10-year-old twins.