Well, it’s just about summertime, or at least I hope it is. I guess we can never be too sure. Anyways, I figured now is a better time than any to give you my 7 tips for a hot, hazy and humid summer with CF. Let’s get into it.
Ah, vitamin D – the stuff that comes from the sun. It’s hard not to open this blog post without everyone’s favorite thing, the sun, so that’s exactly what I am going to do. Like Katy Perry once said, “Daisy dukes, bikinis on top / sun-kissed skin / so hot we’ll melt your popsicle!” getting tan is awesome, and as a dude, how could I not love the bikinis on top. BUT did you know that vitamin D is actually great for lung health? No, you didn’t know? Now you do. That’s right. Studies have shown (http://advances.nutrition.org/content/2/3/244.full) that vitamin D is a key ingredient in keeping the airbags healthy. I don’t want you to think that I’m telling to go out there and get crushed by the sun only to come back looking like Mr. Krabs from Spongebob. I am telling you to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Remember it’s healthy to do so.
Before we get ahead of ourselves here, REMEMBER TO USE SUNSCREEN. Melanoma is no laughing matter, and while we are at it, neither are sun burns or skin cancer. Sunscreen can literally be a lifesaver. Beyond that, have you ever noticed on the little antibiotic bottles that the red label warnings sometimes say “avoid sun exposure”? That warning isn’t a lie. I can recall a few times when I was younger that I fell victim to sun poisoning during a course of Cipro. Take it from me, sun poisoning is not fun. During football preseason my senior year of high school, I had it so bad, I basically peeled the skin off my entire nose. So, while I tell you that vitamin D is awesome and being in the sun is great for your lungs, you need to be smart about it.
For those of us with feeding tubes, there really isn’t any excuse here. Your feeding tube acts like a second mouth. Utilize it. I know Pedialyte tastes like garbage, so just dump it right down the feeding tube. You might as well add a little salt to it also – you aren’t going to taste it. For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to have a feeding tube, I guess there is a little bit more work involved in this one. Staying hydrated is incredibly important. For one, it’s essentially a root issue within cystic fibrosis. Our lungs aren’t hydrated properly, so the mucus gets harder to cough up, then it can get stuck and lead to infection. Secondly, we are salt deficient. Replace that stuff. Drink Gatorade, water, Vitamin Water, (or pedialyte if you can stomach it) whatever suits your personal needs (you can add a little salt too), get it done. Don’t get left out, sitting on the bench. This is something you can help control. Monitor your fluid intake, and remember, when in doubt on a hot day, just keep it going – drink! Make sure that pee stays clear. [Also – if you want to know more about how I keep myself hydrated check out my blog post from last year… http://gunnaresiason.com/quenching-a-thirst]
Crushing a few brews
Yeah, I’ll admit it – I’m a sucker for driving the truck out on the beach, lighting up a bonfire and hanging out for a couple hours. Nothing spells America quite like combining horsepower, nature and a good BBQ. Once the sun goes down and the temperature drops, though, it’s game on. Clean up, drive home, change clothes and head to the bar (designate a driver please, don’t be dumb). I realize I am totally contradicting myself with the “staying hydrated” tip, but whatever, it’s life sometimes you have to live it, just remember it’s important to be responsible. If it’s 105 degrees and painfully humid, maybe it’s not the best idea to be drinking, let alone to be outside. If you do choose to drink, however, make the right choice. I choose Budweiser. Not only is it the great American lager, it also has great calories. While the King of Beers may not be on par with the Silver Bullet, “great taste, less filling,” it certainly will help pack on the calories better than any beer I would drink. It’ll fill you up too (don’t funnel Budweiser, bad things will happen). When you wake up the next morning, revert back to the hydration tip. Remember to enjoy life. You’ll survive if you crush a few – I promise.
Pick and choose your battles
I have touched on this one a little throughout this post already, but let’s just remember, I am not Superman, and neither are you. If it is painfully hot, there is no shame in staying inside in the AC. The heat can be deadly especially for people with any chronic illness. You have to be smart about what you can expect of yourself on a super-hot day. This is especially true if you are on IV antibiotics or something that can lead to dehydration. There have been several summer BEF fundraisers in the past that I have chosen not to attend simply because of the heat. As the saying goes, I would rather live to fight another day. I understand, or at least I like to think that I understand, what I am dealing with. It is important to know how far to push yourself in several situations – the heat is not an exception.
I can’t say whether this one is true or not, but I like it, so I’m going to take the ball and run with it. As the story, or myth, or whatever you want to call it goes, the hypertonic saline treatment came from CF surfers in Australia. If that is actually true, that is freaking awesome. Why would they be in a position to discover it, or realize that surfing is helpful? The salt air. The salt air, much like HyperSal, moistens the mucus in our lungs triggering coughs. Coughs help clear the mucus, destroy plugs and allow us to breathe easier, so get your a** down to the beach. I am not telling you to suddenly turn into SI swimsuit girl and professional surfer Alana Blanchard, but I am saying that I am a believer that this actually works. With that being said, if you do want to turn into her, go for it. For the record I do not surf. I am terrified of sharks. Seriously, though, I cannot be certain, but I do feel like I am a healthier person during the summer months. That could be a result of a million different things, but I like to think that the salty beach air helps. I hope it helps you too.
It’s corny, I know, but I am going to say it anyways. Remember, life isn’t all about work and stressing out over little things. You are bigger than your disease or whatever else you have going on in your life. You have the freedom to do whatever you want, as long as you take care of yourself. You make your own luck, just like you present yourself with your own new challenges and opportunities. Take a trip, make a few mistakes, create some memories – get yourself involved. There’s nothing worse than watching life go on without you. Make sure you get on board the train when it leaves.
I am planning on writing another Ask Gunnar blog soon, but I want to keep it unique, so keep emailing those awesome questions, but please for the love of God, ask something new!!!! Take a look at our older Ask Gunnar blogs before you send some questions in. That email is GunnarsBlog@Esiason.org
Also! I have been working on some really great videos and podcasts, be on the lookout for those to drop intermittently along with my weekly blog posts.
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My reading list since March:
Friday Night Lights – H.G. Bissinger
Legend – Eric Blehm
Profiles In Courage – John F. Kennedy