With the holidays fast approaching, Andrea (our daughter with cystic fibrosis) will be coming home from college and bringing her truckload of CF paraphernalia with her. However, this process is not as easy as it sounds. As much as I'm sure she would like to simply load all her treatments and medications into her car and haul them home, the change of schedule in her CF routine takes preparation. A checklist is made and, hopefully, all that's on it gets checked off in a timely manner.
- Go through all your medications and make sure that you have enough to cover you while you're away. Some things, such as laxatives or nutritional drink supplements, are easily available to purchase over the counter should you forget. But most CF medications like antibiotics and pancreatic enzymes are prescribed and not readily available at your retail pharmacy. With all the wonderful, high-fat foods in arms reach during the holidays, you DO NOT want to forego those enzymes.
Keep in mind that specialty medications may need preauthorization, which can add days to getting a prescription filled. So, call your pharmacy and look into this ahead of time so that everything is resolved prior to your holiday departure.
- Before packing your chest physical therapy machine, compressors, nebulizers, vest or any other item that assists with your respiratory therapy, be sure to clean your devices and ensure that they're in good working order. Change out filters or bring replacements, and double check that you have enough nebulizers and tubing.
- There are many CF medications that you definitely do not want to go without, but something you may want to consider is the timing of when you take these meds. Many people's sleeping schedules change during the holidays, so it's a good idea to consult your physician about when you are taking certain pills. For our daughter, taking certain medications an hour or two ahead of schedule has not been a cause for concern, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. Call your doctor or contact a case manager at the pharmaceutical company and consult with them regarding time changes of when you take your medications.
- Winter undoubtedly brings illnesses. As a person with CF, it's important to make sure that you're up-to-date with your flu vaccinations and to remember to steer clear of people you know are sick. This is also a good time to remind family members about how important it is for you to know if anyone is ill and to ask if this person will be at any family gatherings. It's always better to know upfront so that you can decide to stay home should there be a sick little one crawling around at the festivities.
- Traveling overseas adds a whole new checklist to manage. See the travel content and blog posts on CFF.org for tips on traveling internationally.
- Before she comes home, Andrea always schedules her bronchoscopy or “tune-up.” As horrible as it may seem to do this during the holidays, in the long run it allows her to go into the hospital during a time when she's not as stressed from going to class, doing homework and preparing for tests.
Although it can seem daunting to make a list and check it twice, being prepared will ultimately make the holidays go as smoothly as possible. After all, the holidays are a time to enjoy loved ones, eat, play games, relax, eat, take part in family traditions and de-stress -- oh, and eat!