How to Thrive With an Immune System That Doesn’t Always

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When I was born I had pneumonia in both lungs. My lungs were very much fine, which isn’t always the case for people who have CP, for a long time. I say were because three years ago, I got pneumonia for the second time in my life. I’m not going to lie, it was very rough. I went to see my doctor three times, and almost landed in the hospital. It was the sickest I ever remember being. The third trip to the doctor, he looked at me and said, “I know you’re not going to like this at all, but I think your CP, and the fact, that you sit so much is not letting your lungs heal as fast or as properly as we both would like.” I held it together until after the nurse set me up on a breathing treatment machine.

Once the door was shut, I sobbed…quietly. Oh fudge, I thought. I hate having CP. Why can’t I just be normal? I don’t want another challenge. As I was sobbing, I was texting, while I was doing a breathing treatment. Yeah, I am a type A, multi-tasker. I texted my chosen family. I told them everything because they made me promise to keep them updated. The responses I got back were exactly what I needed. “It’s okay. Calm down. Tears won’t help right now. Just breathe like you were shown. You’re a fighter. It’s who you are. We love you. We’re in this together.” A couple said, “Let’s pray…together. Right now.” We did. All of their responses were Heaven sent that day. They kept me from breaking down… completely and losing my wits.

By the time my doctor came back in to listen to my lungs, I had my game face back on. I said, What do we do, now? “I want you to go to the hospital. I want a blood panel. I also want you to have one of those machines at home. The nurse will explain how to use it and I’ll call in the medicine that goes in it.” Okay. “I’ll call you when I get the results. If you’re not better by Monday, and depending on the results, you get to be a guest at the hospital and get IV antibiotics.” My face must have been comical because he said, “I’m hopeful it won’t come to that.” Me, too. Thanks for taking such good care of me. “You’re welcome. Thanks for being honest and sticking with me. You’re not a typical CP patient.” I’m beginning to think there isn’t such a thing. “You may be right.”

The machine and a third round of antibiotics kept me out of the hospital. Thank God (literally). From that visit on, keeping my lungs and immune system as strong and healthy as possible became a priority. My doctor, and everybody who loves me, said, “We can do this. You just need to be honest and realize you can’t do everything for everybody. You can have the full throttle life you’re used to…mostly.” I said, Okay. What do we do? The answer was we’re going back to basics. What does that mean, and look like?

  1. flu shot every year without fail: I’ve taken one since age 14, anyway, under doctors’ orders
  2. vitamin cocktail to boost my immunity
  3. exercise daily
  4. real food, at regular intervals, I get so busy, I forget to eat, sometimes
  5. rest and saying no to invitations as needed
  6. sleep: REM sleep
  7. managing stress as much as is possible

In full disclosure, I struggle with a lot of these daily. I’m a work in progress…ALWAYS. However, I get back up when I fall and try again. I have lots of people who love me, if I’ll just open my mouth, and be honest about how I’m feeling. I’m learning and I know we’ll get there…together.

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