Gunnar Gunnar Esiason

All articles by Gunnar

 

My Self Quarantine is Coming to an End

I guess a more accurate title would have been, “my self quarantine ended weeks ago, but now it feels like I am moving into a new phase.” A close friend of mine had the coronavirus back in March/April. Fortunately he came through relatively easy. He asked me last night, “so what do you think about...
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Mask Wearing: The Dumbest Binary Political Issue Out There

The dumbest thing going is that mask wearing has devolved into a binary political issue. I have lived through years of severe respiratory illness, and if that counts for anything, then let me get on my soapbox and say that breathing through an N95 mask was (and still is) not an inconvenience whatsoever. I will...
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As Society Reopens, It’s Hard Not to Feel Like We Are Being Left Behind

I have taken this time of self-isolation to work on a lot of things in my life – whether it’s learning a new skill like coding or taking time to reflect on the past. I find myself doing much of the latter on my daily walks. Let me back up, for a moment. Long hikes...
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I Did a Coronavirus Antibody Test; It Left Me With More Questions than Answers

Last week I put on what little PPE I had and walked into a Quest Lab about 30 minutes from my home to get a SARS-CoV-2 serology test. The lab in Claremont, New Hampshire was little more than a small standalone building awkwardly situated in a strip mall parking lot. My test was negative. Not...
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What is Your Risk Tolerance Right Now? Mine: Going for Coffee, Exercising Outdoors, Socially Distant Gatherings

Articulating risk tolerance is hard. It is especially hard during the coronavirus pandemic because we all have competing levels of risk tolerance. It requires a certain degree of vulnerability and deep personal understanding. Our priorities are different across the board. How do we value personal security vs. the security of a loved one… or a...
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Embrace Friendly Debate: Is Cystic Fibrosis a Condition or a Disease?

In the spirit of cystic fibrosis awareness month, one of the most important things we can do as patient and family advocates is communicate effectively about the disease condition that affects our lives. From the outset, many of us lack formal medical education (me included!) and without that, it can be challenging to talk about...
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To the Person Living in Defiance of Social Distancing

We all know someone… someone in our lives who is living in blatant disregard for social distancing. For no good reason, too! They are not an essential worker, nor are they contributing to constructive economic activity. Watching it from a far elicits… a complex emotion. You know who I am talking about. We see them...
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COVID-19 Data Dump Delivers Good News for Cystic Fibrosis Population

One of the benefits of having cystic fibrosis (if there was ever such a thing…) is that it is quite easy for our clinics to report, collect and analyze patient data all over the world. The Cystic Fibrosis Patient Registry (despite some of my issues with it) has the ability to quickly collect data allowing...
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Making Progress Towards Addressing Discriminatory Triage Guidelines

I write with good news! Our pleas have been heard and some of the discriminatory policies or proposed policies that explicitly list cystic fibrosis in triage guidance are being challenged or have been reviewed. I have updates from Wisconsin, Vermont and finally a national position from Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. It is CRITICAL we continue to...
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Darcy’s Blog: Fertility Treatments, COVID19, the Salem Witch Trials, and Finding Nemo

Darcy is back on the blog! Fertility treatments are one of those elective procedures that have been canceled because of the pandemic. It makes sense, of course, but it’s one of those crazy domino effects of the virus. It’s weird to think that there will be different children born at different times because COVID19. I’m...
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People With Cystic Fibrosis are NOT Expendable

Are we living in a world that is not adequately valuing our lives? We might be. Within the context of triaging care, our society is discovering that some of the very worst policies imaginable are still on the books. “Policies and guidelines in five states — Alaska, Florida, Oklahoma, Vermont and Wisconsin — specify that...
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Your Cystic Fibrosis Experience Will be Enormously Valuable in the Post-Pandemic World

We are infection control experts. Don’t miss your opportunity to take a leadership position in your community as people start to adjust to the new normal. Yesterday I listened to Dr. Antony Fauci – the man who is proving to be our national hero when we need one – in an interview on the Wall...
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One Month in Self-Isolation: Stress, Calm and One Big Question, Productivity?

Today is my one-month anniversary for being in self-isolation. Some days I wake up feeling like that time has flown by. Other days it feels like this past month has been the longest decade of my life. At the heart of the month I have been in isolation is my routine, the daily cystic fibrosis...
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Patient Privacy and the Pandemic: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Medical security is one of the most fundamental rights offered to patients and the medical system. Patient privacy is why I often omit or generalize different medical details about my own life within these blogs. I don’t write about PFT scores, test results and things like that. It’s also why I never tried to track...
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It Took a Global Crisis to Allow Remote Learning in Extreme Situations

When I graduated from college my dad asked me how much time I had missed over my four years at BC. A lot. I have since gone back and looked it over. The amount of time probably came out to several months worth of missed days – not just school, but all the other great...
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Reverting to My Pre-Trikafta Norms Feels… Weird

Trikafta has given me freedom, it has unlocked my future and has given me health that I haven’t experienced since I was a college freshman. In the days after dosing, I was out of the house, able to work, able to travel, and able to go back to school. But you know all that. If...
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) is Pushing People with Cystic Fibrosis to Feel a Range of Emotions, From Worried to Business as Usual

You can definitely put me into the worried and stressed categories when we’re talking about COVID-19. Things are happening crazy fast. At times it feels like the global medical infrastructure to fight this thing is buckling beneath the pressure, but then a moment later a new paper is published citing the efficacy of some repurposed...
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How Can We Support Health Systems Through the COVID-19 Crisis? Telehealth for Starters

Yesterday I got an email from my CF center in New York City saying telehealth services are beginning to role out for patients who don’t want to come to the clinic. The clinic hadn’t yet recommended against coming in for visits, but it certainly felt that may one day be a possibility in the very...
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Yes, The Coronavirus Spread is Making Me Anxious

Last week I naively asked, “Will we fall victim to healthcare rationing?” This week it seems like that’s the question global experts are asking, too. The thing that scares me most about the coronavirus outbreak is the potential for an indefinite period of time where every day health services could be out of reach. Yes,...
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A Doctor is Responsible for Bringing Coronavirus (COVID19) Too Close to Home for Me

Coronavirus came to an off campus party at the Tuck School of Business. Yup – I thought rural New Hampshire would be a safe bet during this pandemic, but it turns out I was wrong. Some of the ethical questions I blogged about a few days are feeling far more real today. Long story short,...
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Some of the Ethical Questions Facing the Cystic Fibrosis Community

Novel coronavirus, the virus responsible for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is on the verge of becoming a global pandemic if it isn’t already. As we stand on the precipice of what could be one of the largest global public health sagas of our lifetimes, I think it’s worth talking about COVID-19 from the “at risk...
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Guest Column: The Canadian Quest for Comprehensive Access to CFTR Modulators

It has been a difficult few months for the Canadian cystic fibrosis community. While our country is widely known for being a world leader when it comes to publicly funded cystic fibrosis care and healthcare in general, the same cannot be said for its position on pharmacare. Many Americans will be surprised to learn that...
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What is a Rare Disease?

It’s Rare Disease Week 2020, which ultimately culminates with Rare Disease Day on February 29th (the rarest of days!). In the United States, a rare disease is exactly what it sounds like, a disease that is…well… rare. Specifically, a rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 people. The reason we care so much...
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How Do You Value Your Life With Cystic Fibrosis?

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) is back at it again. Just last week, the not-so-independent watchdog for all things drug coverage in the United States released its draft report for “Modulator Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis: Effectiveness and Value.” As a refresher, ICER uses a mathematical model called Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALY) to...
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I Was Told I Would Only Need My Feeding Tube for a Few Years. It’s Been 9. What Happened?

I wasn’t exactly happy when I had my feeding tube placed in 2011, but it was necessary. I was drastically underweight and I couldn’t put any pounds on the old fashioned way. In fact, I was so distraught over the thought of putting a tube in that it took a bout with pancreatitis to convince...
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My (Almost) Liberation from Recurrent Cystic Fibrosis Clinic Visits

Last week I had started writing a blog post…. One of the unforeseen affects of taking Trikafta has been my liberation from my cystic fibrosis clinic(s). I was at a point in my life where I was going to the clinic every other month to tackle some new challenge. Sometimes I was there as frequently...
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That Time a Healthcare Provider Accused Me of Being a Drug User

One of the strangest hospital stays I have ever been through was a time when a care provider accused me of being a drug user. Let the record show that I am NOT a drug user. Let the record show that what follows ended up being an important life lesson for everyone involved. I was...
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5 Ways My Quality of Life Has Improved on Trikafta

So much of how we evaluate success of various medications is based on objective efficacy. Has the patient’s FEV1 improved? What about BMI or sweat chloride? It goes without saying that efficacy is critical when looking at treatment routines and options, but I think one of the major things that’s often lost in evaluating different...
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A Few (Realistic) Expectations for the Next Decade of Cystic Fibrosis Care

The 2010’s saw the dawn of the modulators. In a remarkable feat of drug development, four cystic fibrosis-specific medications came to market from the test tube: Kalydeco, Orkambi, Symdeko and Trikafta. (If you want to blow your mind, look at the generic names of the drugs included in the modulators – Ivacaftor, Lumacaftor, Tezacaftor, Elexacaftor...
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A Reflection on the Past Six Months

I have spent about six months in Hanover, and one of the things I was encouraged to do upon setting off on this new life journey is periodically reflect on the experience. My transition into full-time student mode has been both a challenge and fantastically liberating. The biggest hurdle of them all has been losing...
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I’ll Never Forget You, Lea

In October I gave a community wide talk about cystic fibrosis at Tuck where I mentioned Lea and her impact on not only my life, but also the cystic fibrosis community. I had been at school a mere two and a half months at that point, and I can tell you that I don’t think...
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Darcy’s Blog: A Mysterious Health Issue

I never had asthma until a year and a half ago. One night, Gunnar and I were getting ready to go to bed in his bedroom back home in Long Island, like we had for years. Out of nowhere, my throat and chest started to feel very tight. “Oh no…” I thought, “I’m coming down...
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Breathe In Ep. #98 – The Legal Marriage Question

This week on Breathe In, Tiffany is on her own again while Gunnar battles his way through final exams. Tiffany is joined by a new voice on the podcast, Holly Seay, 24, from Georgia, a newlywed with CF. Holly takes us through her life with CF and how she met her now husband. Prior to...
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Breathe In Ep. #97 – Misdiagnosed

On this episode of Breathe In, Gunnar takes the day off and Tiffany takes over with a returning guest, Audrey Kostelec, 23 from Washington State. You may remember Audrey from the emergency podcast we had on FaceBook Live in March. This time we talk about Audrey and her CF journey. Audrey explains how she was...
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Adults with Cystic Fibrosis Cannot Be Forgotten Amidst Trikafta’s Success

Trikafta’s amazing power is…well… amazing, and even more so for children living with cystic fibrosis. Our hope is that when children can start dosing Trikafta, they will be putting off disease progression for decades. That goal is seemingly becoming a reality before our eyes. The cystic fibrosis that I, along with much our adult community,...
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Learning How to Live

I have been trying to figure out how to write this blog ever since Trikafta was approved by the FDA, really ever since I started feeling better on the drug, and have admittedly struggled to do so. But when I opened up my email this morning, I saw a blog inquiry from a reader asking...
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Breathe In Ep. #96 – The Triple Combo

A mere few days following the FDA’s approval of Trikafta, cystic fibrosis patients across the United States began dosing. This week’s podcast looks back at Gunnar’s time in the triple combo study. Think of this podcast as a follow to Gunnar’s blog. Gunnar talks about both the immediate and long term affects of having been...
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Trikafta is Shipping!

This is mostly a PSA for anyone who may need to hear it, or being told anything else… Trikafta is shipping!  I have spent most of my morning watching videos across my social media timelines of people with CF taking their first doses and it’s giving me goosebumps. What a time to be alive! Feel...
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My Time in the Triple Combo Study

In no small way has the triple combo completely changed my life. The first few weeks of the study were some of the most powerful of my life. My lung function seemingly skyrocketed over night, I suddenly felt like I had more energy than an Olympic athlete in the prime of his career, and the...
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Reducing the Risk of Medical Error: Don’t Shy Away From Making Your Voice Heard Inside the Hospital

We’re going to start off today’s blog with an unfortunate truth… Medical centers are often just as dangerous as they are helpful. In fact, in a 2016 article, the British Medical Journal claimed that Medical Error is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. I am witness to errors all the time,...
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Fall A Term: A Lot of Work, A Cold and More Fun

After three months of living in the woods I am back home for Fall break! I have officially survived the first term of my MBA program. Small victories, right? Living in Hanover has been equal parts fun, exhausting, challenging, exciting and stimulating. To say that I was nervous before starting a residential graduate program back...
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Breathe In Ep. #95 – Breathe In Fall

Gunnar and Tiffany welcome back the podcast after a brief (unplanned!) hiatus. Tiffany announces that she started working a new job and has begun living out her goal of working full time. Gunnar talks about fighting through a round a midterms in the first quarter MBA term. The duo chat about getting their flu shots,...
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Why You Should Get Your Flu Shot (as told by a handful of .GIFs)

It’s flu shot szn! Time to get out there and do your civic duty (read: don’t be a public health menace). The flu is much more than some sneezing and coughing. It could mean time in the hospital, time away from work and time away from your friends. via GIPHY The flu shot reaches maximum...
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Knowing When You’ve Reached Your Limit (Then How to Effectively Communicate It and Reset).

Last week was my first round of midterms and it took a lot out of me. Beyond the midterms I had two group projects, a lot of late nights with my study group, quite a few early mornings prepping and keeping up with treatments, and a visit from some college buddies (pictured above). The hellish...
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Breathe In Ep. #94 – Self Care

After a few weeks off, Gunnar and Tiffany return to the podcast with Gunnar’s girlfriend, Darcy. This time, though, Darcy puts on her social worker hat and takes the podcast through a clinical lens into the world of self care. It’s established early on in the podcast that self care is a bit of a...
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My New Roommate

Yesterday Darcy gave her perspective about living together on the blog. Today, it’s my turn! Business school isn’t the only new thing in my life. My new roommate has certainly been the biggest change around here. No, Darcy isn’t exactly a new part of my life, but living together certainly is! In a way, the...
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Darcy’s Blog: New Roomies

Darcy and I are writing complimentary blogs this week. We’re posting hers today and mine tomorrow! Gunnar and I have officially lived together for about a month, and I am here to report that it has felt very….. ordinary. My Mom says that if a relationship is right, living together should feel like home. Thus...
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Headline About Vertex Drug is Causing a Panic Without Context, I Think We’re Going to Be Okay.

Earlier this week STAT News published a brief article entitled, “Vertex sinks on reports of deaths of patients taking cystic fibrosis drug” without providing too much context. Given the first line of the article was, “Thirty patients have died after taking a Vertex (VRTX) Pharmaceuticals treatment for cystic fibrosis, according to a government database” I...
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Breathe In Ep. #93 – Pregnancy With Low Lung Function

Tiffany is joined by Ashlee Terwilliger, 35, with cystic fibrosis and a double lung transplant survivor. The two talk about Ashlee’s life growing up and how becoming a teacher affected her health and how she handled all the germs. As her health declined, she became pregnant and Ashlee takes us through being pregnant and labor with...
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Adapting the Routine

Hello from Hanover! I have finally found the time to do some blogging. Believe it or not, there is a lot going on in a typical grad school day. One of my big stressors ahead of the move was adapting my care routine to the changing demands of business school in a new place. Now...
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