Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kinder Quotes

I work as a teaching assistant with Kindergarteners and I love it! Needless to say, they say the funniest things and make me laugh daily! So, I decided to start writing some of them down to share with you! (Hopefully you'll find them as amusing as I do--you just have to remember these things are coming out of the mouths of little five and six year olds!)

**This week is spirit week for the high school basketball game on Friday. Monday's spirit wear was "Sunday's Best Clothing" and a couple of the boys wore ties and some of the girls wore dresses. One of our super-distractable students wore a mustache! He was wearing a hoodie and cargo pants....and a huge black, curled at the ends, mustache! Apparently that's his idea of fancy...or his parents didn't know he left the house with it.

**We were talking in class about how the students have changed since they were babies, so they were sharing stories about things they did when they were babies:
"This is kind of inappropriate....but I pooped in the bathtub."
"When I was little, I was eating a hot dog and it wasn't cut up. My mom thought I was going to choke and she was terrified!!"
"Can you believe it?! When I was born, then it was only a few weeks before Christmas!!"
"A dinosaur took my pacifier." (The teacher asked her if she meant she lost it, or if maybe it had a dinosaur on it...but she was sure that a dinosaur took it. I guess that's what her parents told her!)

**I teach a small reading group and one of the students was counting something and obviously counted way too many.
I said, "Oh man, you can't count! You need to go back to preschool!"
And another boy replied, "Yeah, he's going old school!"
Another assistant in the room turned around from her computer and looked at me to see if I heard the same thing and we both started cracking up. I asked the student to repeat what he said and he goes, "Well, he can't count, so he should go back to his old school."  (Guess it was too good to be true...)

**Today, one boy asked me, "Are you a mom?" And I told him, "No."
A couple girls looked at me and said, "You're not?!?! Why?? Do you just live all by yourself then??"
I answered them, "No, I live with my husband, we just got married."
The girls still kept asking, "Well, don't you want to have a baby? Why can't you just get one?" I was afraid of where this might head...so I just said,"Yes, I want a baby, and maybe one day I'll have one."

**I mentioned this one in an earlier post, but in case you missed it (it's one of the best so far):
A little girl was going to the bathroom and I was standing in the hall waiting for her and she yelled to me, "There's pee and a big poop in the toilet! It's so cool, I did that!" Luckily for her, there was no one else in the hallway but me!

There are many more to come, I'm sure! I'm so glad to work with these little guys, they think everything is exciting and they make my day so much more fun! :-)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"I Have Cystic Fibrosis"

This post is all about what it's like telling people for the first time that I have CF. I can't imagine what it was like for my parents when I was born, having to tell my whole family that I had CF. No one knew what it was, so I'm sure they were all scared. Even today not a lot of people know what it is, so when I do tell them, I have to also explain what it is. When I was little, I feel like me having CF was kind of "hush-hush" and no one really talked about it except around the times I had doctor appointments or Great Strides walks. As a kid, that didn't bother me, I was used to not talking about it or telling people about it. But as I got older, I felt like it was a part of who I am and I didn't like hiding it from people. When I went to college, luckily I had a roommate who was a friend, so she knew about everything before we lived together; that made it easier for me when I had to do my treatments. When other students visited our room though, my vest was always sitting out (and it was still the huge one) so people would be curious about it. I really like to let people try my vest when they see it for the first time, so they know what it does/feels like...and it's really funny to see their reaction when they have it on!

When I met Tim, I was only a few weeks into my freshman year of college. When we started hanging out more, I knew I had to tell him, somehow, about CF but I was so afraid to. I never know how someone is going to react, so I was nervous to tell Tim especially because I didn't want to scare him away! I ended up telling him online because I was too afraid to do it in person. Of course, doing it this way, I couldn't see his reaction, but I later found out that he looked it up online as we were talking about it. I think it freaked him out a little bit, but it didn't seem to change anything between us. It felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders because then I felt like he knew who I was and I wasn't hiding anything from him. He has been so supportive ever since. He always bugs me about doing my treatments and making sure I am staying healthy. He came to the Great Strides walk with me in May 2007 after we were together for about seven months, and helped me create a team. He told his family about my CF and they were so supportive about it and they donate every year to Great Strides. It's nice knowing that his whole family knows about me having CF and accepting me for who I am.

I've always been afraid that when people find out, they're going to treat me differently because I have a chronic disease. I don't want people to think, "Aww, she's sick, I better treat her nicely" or "Aww, she's sick, maybe I shouldn't get too close." I don't know what people think when they hear I have CF. I'm never going to say to someone, 'Hi, my name is Colleen and I have Cystic Fibrosis.' To me, I'll tell people when it comes up--they see me taking my enzymes before I eat and ask about it, or they're coming over and they see my Vest. Sometimes if I don't know a person too well and they hear me coughing and ask if I have a cold, usually I'll just tell them yes because it's just easier. To me, the hardest people to decide to tell are co-workers. I worked at Menards for a few years and I finally worked up the courage to speak at one of our meetings about CF and Great Strides to try to get more people involved. After that, I didn't notice any difference in how people treated me, and honestly, I'm sure a bunch of people forgot after a while.

Now, working in the school district, I'm debating with myself again if I should tell people or not (the ones who are my facebook friends probably now know from this blog). I was talking to my principal one day (who is amazing!) about taking a day off work for a doctor's appointment and she asked if everything was OK, so I told her that I had CF and that I have to go to the doctor every three months. She was surprised because she had known me for a year and had no idea. She asked a couple questions about how I feel and if I'm doing well and that was that. A couple days later, I brought up the Great Strides walk to her and we decided to involve the whole school in fundraising. A couple weeks ago, I brought it up at the staff meeting and later in the day someone asked me who I knew with CF and why I wanted to raise money for it. I told her that I had it, and again, she was surprised too because this was the school I did my student teaching at the year before and subbed a lot, so I had really been there for a year and a half, and she had no idea either.

It kind of makes me feel good that people can't tell, because that means I just seem like everyone else (who probably just coughs more than everyone), which is what I want. But at the same time, it feels good when people know about my CF because it helps them know me better. I'm interested in what peoples' reaction was when they found out about me, or when I told them. If I didn't have CF, I don't know how I would react if I found out someone close to me had a chronic disease. What did you think when you found out??

Friday, January 21, 2011

Great Strides!

Great Strides is an event hosted by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to raise money for research for a cure for CF. I have participated in Great Strides in Chicago with my family and friends since I can remember. We've had quite a range of weather and experiences, including me and each of my siblings getting hit by crazy bikers along the path, losing cousins on the path, and freezing weather! But every year, my family, and now some of my friends stick it out to help raise awareness and money for the CF Foundation. About 4 years ago, my first year of college, I created my own team: Colleen's Friends & Family (CFF) and started recruiting my friends to the walks, too. Ever since then, each year I try to recruit more and more people. The past couple years, I've reached out to my in-laws, who have been extremely supportive and generous, too!

This year, Great Strides is expanding out to DeKalb!! I feel like it's part of my responsibility to get this walk to be successful because it's a new site and because it's where I live and went to school. I joined the DeKalb Great Strides committee to help get the walk going, and so far, I think it's going pretty well. Our goal is to get 25 teams to register and for each team to raise $1,000 = $25,000. So far, there are about 5 or 6 teams registered, so we've got some more recruiting to do, but we're trying! It will help having all of the students from NIU still at school, and I have a few friends trying to get their organizations or sororities involved. Also, since I'm working in the school district in DeKalb, I wanted to get them involved. Ideally, I wanted to get the entire district involved, but it looks like this year, it's just going to start out at the school I'm working at. Next week at school, we're doing Penny Wars during spirit week. We're having spirit week for the high school basketball game, so we thought it would be a good time to add a fundraiser since the students were already excited about the different days of spirit week. During Penny Wars, each class collects pennies in a bin for their class, but they can also bring in silver coins deduct from other class's totals. Last year our school did it to raise money for something else, and raise about $1,000! The kids really get into it and it's lots of fun. I'm excited to see how it turns out!

If you'd like to be a part of Great Strides this year, please go to www.cff.org/greatstrides. You can join my team, create your own team, or just walk for fun. Registration is free, so please register online if you're planning on coming. I'm hoping to still walk in Chicago in May, since I've walked at that one for so long, and maybe go to one other walk somewhere this year-just to see how they are different in other locations. There are tons of walks all over the country, so if you can't come out to the DeKalb one (April 9th), I'm sure you could find one near you. Come join the fun and raise awareness and money for a wonderful organization! :-)

Monday, January 17, 2011

100 Days

Tim and I have been married 100 days today! :-) 
This is definitely one of my favorite pictures from the wedding, taken by our friend Amanda's boyfriend, Neil.
We got married on October 9th, 2010 at Hopkins Park in DeKalb. We had an outdoor ceremony, outdoor pictures and then our reception was inside. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day, with the temperature being around 82 degrees that day! That morning, I met all of the groomsmen, including the groom, at the reception hall to set everything up. They were all SO helpful in getting everything ready! My aunt Sue also was a huge help in setting up the reception hall for us. Later, while the girls and I were getting ready at our apartment, we had to turn the air conditioning on because it was getting so hot in there! My maid of honor created a playlist on her ipod of fun songs that we used to sing all the time together that play while everyone was getting ready. I love music, so this really helped calm me down--even though, to my surprise, I was completely relaxed the entire day, up until the moment I knew it was my turn to walk down the aisle...but I'll get to that in a bit. So, we're getting ready, listening to music and it's finally time for me to put my dress on and the song "Going to the Chapel" by the Dixie Cups comes on and I start tearing up! That was the only time the entire day that I cried! I was very proud of myself, but that song gets me every time....especially when it's my wedding day and I'm putting my dress on!

Anyway, so then I start making everyone else cry and we were all blubbery for a few minutes til the next song came on. We made our way to Hopkins Park where we hung out in the basement room until it was time to go. This is the room that I was going to walk out of to go down the aisle, so I could see everyone as they arrived, so that was pretty cool. Again, I was pretty relaxed...til I saw the groomsmen and Tim walking down the aisle to start the ceremony. 
The parents and grandparents went first, then the guys started going...then my bridesmaids started leaving! Pretty soon, I was the only on left and that's when it hit me! Holy crap, this is really happening, I'm about to get married!!!! I walked out of the basement room, up a few stairs to my dad, who was starting to get choked up. I told him he better stop crying or he would make me cry! So he made his usually dad comments and asked if he could parade wave to everyone down the aisle. I smiled and told him no! As I walked down the aisle, Tim's little 3 year old cousin said "Hey Colleen!" to me as I walked past him, so I laughed and said, "Hey Jake!" The ceremony was perfect. I said my vows without crying, and listened to Tim's vows without crying, and it was really 

wonderful. I couldn't believe it was happening and 
that it was all over so fast. When she announced us as husband and wife to everybody, it was like a huge sigh of relief; we did it! I was SO excited! After the ceremony, we took lots of amazing pictures  and then went inside and had the best reception ever! Throughout the reception, I had to keep telling myself, "This is your wedding! People are here because you just got married!" We had so much fun that night, and I really think everyone else did, too. There is literally one thing about that entire day that I wouldn't change, it was absolutely everything I could have ever asked for! (Our wedding pictures: http://browneyesphotography.zenfolio.com/f326656102)

Many people have asked, "How's married life?"...my advice to those people, don't ask newlyweds that question because it's really awkward, haha. But don't get offended if you've asked me that, I'm guilty of asking newly married people that before, too. So, to answer that question, after being married for 100 days, married life is great. It's really no different than before, because we had been living together for over a year before we got married, but it's like it's official now. For the past 100 days, I've been able to tell people that I have a husband, and that I'm Tim's wifeI love being referred to as a "Mrs" now, makes me feel officially like an adult! Also, going from changing my last name from something fairly simple (Rooney), to something people freak out about when they first see (Veitengruber)...that's been fun. I've noticed I've had the most problems with my last name with adults. The kids at school are great with it! Having a little five year old come up to me and say, "Mrs. Veitengruber..." it's just too cute! It's the adults that I've had a problem with, like insurance companies, doctors office, bank, etc. 
Changing my name is (not was--I'm still in the process with insurance) as much as a pain as people said it was going to be, especially going to something different where all the letters sound the same over the phone: V, E, T, E, G, B, and E. I love signing it though! :) Being married is fun because now we actually start talking about having kids in front of people without them giving us weird looks, because we're married now and that's what married people do, haha. We had our "First Christmas together" according to my grandma, even though it was really our fifth Christmas together. To her, everything is a first now because we're married. That's weird to me because we were together for four years when we got married, so I don't really want to start counting all over again. It's a little weird though, because my closest friends aren't married, so it's weird talking about being married and them still dating, or even being single. It's like we're in completely different places in our lives but we're the same age. My friends are great though, and super supportive. I always knew that I wanted to get married right after college, and that's exactly what I did. Tim's a great husband and I wouldn't want my life any other way! :-) 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quick Update

Thank goodness for this blog and facebook...and my great relationship with  my doctors/nurses. Every time I post a new blog topic, I attach the link on facebook so people can read it. Today, after I posted about being sick, my nurse practitioner from my CF clinic, Penny (yes, we're facebook friends!), saw/read my post and called me in a prescription for antibiotics...on her day off!! :)  In her words, "Who would have thought facebook would have a medical purpose!"
Thanks Penny!! :-)


I'm sick for the first time in a long time, and it sucks! The kinders at school are always sick, so I'm really surprised that it took me this long to catch something from them, but it seemed like this past week at least half of them were either coughing or sneezing. Friday, my nose felt kind of stuffy, but the rest of me was fine--no headache, stomach aches, anything, so I was hoping it would just be a quick cold. But Friday night, Tim and I went out to dinner and he said that he's never seen me like this. I was the kind of stuffy where I had to blow my nose every 5 seconds and I sounded really funny when I talked. Yesterday, I just took it easy and stayed at home. Worked on our honeymoon scrapbook/photo album. I still had all of my energy, just really stuffy and congested in my head. I was dumb, and probably should have called my doctor by now to get put on an antibiotic before it got worse, but I was just hoping it would go away.
Well, I wake up this morning and my hearing's all weird, my nose is still stuffy, and I'm starting to cough more, damn it! So...I emailed my doctor and I'll call her later, because it's Sunday and she's probably not going to be back to her office til Tuesday, and I'm going to call the pharmacy to try to get an antibiotic I haven't been on in over a year. I really hope this doesn't get any worse because I don't want my lung function going down at all! (I'm doing my treatments as I write this.) Ugh, at least it's a three day weekend off work, so I can just relax. I was hoping to do something fun this weekend, because it's the first time in a long time that Tim and I have 3 days off together. Oh well, I guess I just have to focus on getting better. UGH!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Love to Laugh!!

I love to laugh! When people say that laughter is the best medicine, I completely agree! I couldn't go a day without laughing!!
Things that make me laugh:
~Funny jokes
~Lame jokes
~A new show I found called "You're Cut Off"
~Kevin James (Especially his special called "Sweat the Small Stuff")
~My job :-) I work with Kindergarteners and they are hilarious!!! I'll have to start writing down the funny things they say and posting them. The most recent, and one of the best, was a little girl going to the bathroom and yelling out to me "There's pee and a big poop in the toilet! It's so cool, I did that!!" Luckily for her, no one else was in the hallway to hear her announcement!
~Old jokes with friends from high school
~Looking at old pictures/or any silly pictures
~My in-laws, they're hilarious and awesome! :)
~Movies: I Love You, Man, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Jackass, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Elf, and many more than I can't think of!
~Playing games, especially Apples to Apples
~Hanging out with old Menards friends...lots of stories!
~My dad's work stories (he currently drives a public bus)
~Thinking about the great times we had at our wedding, including our cake fight and special visitors! :)

Unfortunately, this is all I can think of for now. I know there are many more things that make me laugh. Creating this list put me in such a good mood...I suggest you create one yourself! What makes you laugh?!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day to Day

This post mostly has to do with the way I live with CF from day to day, and how it may be challenging at some points, it's "normal" for me. 

When I was in college, finding the time/motivation to do my treatments twice a day was difficult, but I really tried my best. Depending on when I had class, how much homework I had, or when I wanted to hang out with my friends and boyfriend, I had to try to fit two 30-40 minute breathing treatments in everyday. Tim was very supportive and was always on me about doing my treatments, which was helpful. I had a few different roommates through my 4 years at NIU, and they all understood what I had to do and that was very comforting. When I graduated college(!!!), Tim and I moved in together and that was great because again, he always reminded me that I needed to keep myself healthy. 

To me, having a daily routine is very helpful. I currently work as a full time teaching assistant in DeKalb School District, so my Monday-Friday routine is the same. I get up either at 5:45 or 6:00am, depending on how many nebulizers I'm on that month, and do my treatments first thing in the morning. (I usually shower the night before, just so I don't have to wake up any earlier!). Then I get dressed, pack my lunch and eat my breakfast. I have to be at work by 8am and while I'm there I work with Kindergarteners, who are really disgusting germ-wise, haha, but are SO fun to work with! They really do pick their noses as much as people say they do! I must wash my hands and get hand sanitizer 4-5 times a day, just to keep myself healthy. Then, when the school day is done, I go home and do my second round of treatments right away. I've learned that for me, this is the best time to do it, that way I can have the rest of the night to do whatever I want. If I don't do them right when I get home, chances are, they won't get done. On weekends, my schedule isn't so routine, so doing my treatments first thing when I get up is a must; it's the second round that is harder to get in, depending on what we're doing. Last night, for example, we hung out with one of our friends for a while, and didn't get home til after 11 and I was exhausted, so I went to bed as soon as I got home. I always feel bad when I do stuff like that, but luckily it doesn't happen too often. 

Currently, my motivation for doing my treatments is becoming a mother. Ever since I was little, I've always wanted to have kids. Tim and I know that we want to have kids, but I know that I need to be in the best shape as possible to carry a child, and to be healthy after the birth. Everyone's lung function goes down a little bit while they're pregnant because the baby is compressing their lungs, especially towards the end. But for me, that lung function that I lose during the pregnancy, I may not get back. With CF, it's very easy for your lung function to go down, but to get it back, you have to work VERY hard. Every time I don't feel like doing my treatments, I just think of being pregnant, and carrying my own child, and I know that I need to get my lungs in tip top shape! My goal is to be in the 90s when I get pregnant--currently, I'm in the high 80s. Tim's sister and her husband recently had their first baby in June, our nephew Cole, and that's when I realized that's exactly what I want. I have been kicking my own butt to make myself as healthy as possible for when that time should finally come! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Little...Well, a Lot, of Background!

Before I start randomly posting things, I figured I would give a little background about myself and cystic fibrosis. I am the middle child with two brothers who are 26 and 14, both without CF. My parents had no idea that I would have CF, so they were definitely in for a shock when I was born. Shortly after I was born, I went into surgery to fix the obstruction in my intestines. I lost a little weight due to the surgery, so I had to stay in the hospital until I was back to my birth weight. It took me one month to gain that one pound back, but since then, I haven't been admitted into the hospital!

I don't have too many childhood memories of doing treatments (aka: airway clearance--different ways to make me cough the mucus out of my lungs) or feeling like CF was a burden on my childhood, I feel like I had pretty normal upbringing. I played softball and soccer, was in Brownies for a couple years, and was on the color guard in Middle School where I got to go to Disney World and be in a parade! I do remember that at the beginning of every school year, in elementary school, my mom would give my new teacher a pamphlet about CF so they would have a heads up about me. Also, because I have to take digestive enzymes before I eat (to help digest my food), I had to go to the nurse everyday before lunch to take my enzymes. Today, this has just become second nature to me to take them anytime I eat. I don't leave our apartment without enzymes with me! I had doctors appointments every three months to see my CF Specialist, and once a year I would have to go to Chicago to have a much more elaborate appointment with full Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs), a blood test, and chest x-rays. My dad referred to this appointment as my "thousand-mile check up." Growing up, the only treatments I had included my nebulizers and chest percussions which my parents had to do manually. Thankfully, I was a very healthy kid!

In middle school, when I was in 7th grade, I got my very first Vest. The Vest is a machine that does my chest percussions for me. It is literally a vest that inflates and hooks up to a machine that shakes to loosen the mucus in my lungs. The machine itself was very heavy, big and bulky. If I ever wanted to move it, I had to drag it around or have my dad carry it around for me. I HATED my Vest when I first got it. I felt stupid when I did it and I felt like it didn't do anything for me. Since it was much more convenient, my parents were much more persistent about me doing my treatments everyday. I came up with every excuse in the book not to do my treatments (I'm tired, I have homework and it makes my writing sloppy when I write, I want to hang out with my friends...)--the one I used most was, "Oh, I just ate. I can't do my Vest because it'll give me a stomach ache." As an adolescent, it was very hard for me to realize the importance of doing my Vest everyday for 30 minutes. It was a constant fight between my parents and I for a couple years. I think I just needed to figure out for myself that it is what I needed to do to keep myself healthy.

I got better with doing my treatments everyday in high school. Especially when my parents wouldn't let me hang out with my friends until they were done. At the time, I thought it was the worst thing ever, but I know it was for my health. In college, I felt so much more independent and knew that it depended on me, and only me, to stay healthy. I felt like I had to prove to everyone that I could do it myself, without the reminder of my parents, and I did! My lung function actually went UP my first year of college because I kept up with them so well. A few years ago, my doctor told me to start doing my treatments twice a day (and I thought once a day was hard!), 30 minutes on the Vest each time, plus whatever nebulizers I'm on (3-4 different medicines depending on the month). This has definitely helped keep my lung function in the upper 80s, which is very close to normal!

I currently go to the University of Chicago Hospital every three months to see my wonderful doctor, Maria Dowell, who is a CF Specialist for children and adults. The clinic is great and I love the staff! I had the same doctor when I was little, Dr. Lester (Which reminds me, I better email her some wedding pictures soon before Dr. Dowell gets on my case about her asking, again!), until I was 18. I still keep in touch with Dr. Lester and usually see her every year at the Great Strides Walks (an entire separate post). When I turned 18, I moved to the "adult clinic" with Dr. Dowell. It felt so good to move up to the adult clinic! Years ago there was not an adult clinic because many CF patients didn't live into adulthood, but now they have their own clinic in the hospital!

I could go on and on about my life with CF, but this would be REALLY long. You'll learn more about it through my other posts. Thanks for reading it all, hopefully it gave you a little better understanding of how I grew up.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My First Post!

My name is Colleen, I'm 22 years old and I have Cystic Fibrosis (CF). I was diagnosed with CF at birth and have accepted it as a part of my life. Luckily, I've been very healthy and have not been hospitalized since I was born. Keeping a positive attitude and keeping up with all of my treatments is going to keep up that record, hopefully for years to come!

I love the saying, 'live, laugh, love' and will base my blog off it when I can.

Live: "You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it." One thing you'll learn about me, is I really like quotes. I think this quote is absolutely true. This is the life I was given, and I'm going to live it to the fullest of my ability, because I can! The average life expectancy for a person with CF is late 30s, maybe into the 40s. I am determined to beat that statistic; to live!

Laugh: I laugh at everything! Laughter is the best medicine...it makes me cough! Having a sense of humor is important to me and laughing everyday is a necessity. Joking and laughing with friends and family is the best!

Love: I have lots of love in my life, especially from close friends. I recently got married in October 2010, to my super supportive husband, Tim, and became a part of an extremely loving and supportive family of in-laws! Without happy, supportive, encouraging people surrounding me in my everyday life, living with CF would certainly be a struggle.