Frequently Asked Questions
Which invisible illnesses do you have?
I have cystic fibrosis, cystic fibrosis related diabetes, depression, anxiety, ptsd, and early stage endometriosis. Though it's not technically an illness, I also have damaged joints as a result of a medication that I can no longer take.
What is cystic fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a condition that primarily affects the respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems.
In CF, a genetic mutation causes all the body's cells to have faulty or missing CFTR proteins. These proteins are responsible for allowing chloride to flow freely through the body's fluids. Without this necessary chloride (think salt), the body's fluids become thicker and stickier than they should be. This is what causes all of the symptoms and problems with CF.
In the lungs and sinuses, the thick sticky mucus makes people with CF susceptible to chronic infections and irreversible scarring.
The pancreas becomes choked by the thick sticky mucus, and can not spit out digestive enzymes into the stomach, resulting in malabsorption, malnutrition, and many other gastrointestinal issues. In some cases, the mucus choked pancreas also loses its ability to produce insulin.
In males, the thick sticky mucus can block the vas deferens from forming or functioning, leading to fertility issues. In females, there can be increased cervical mucus and irregular menstruation. Because CF used to be a primarily childhood disease (life expectancy has risen from 16 years old to 38 years old in my lifetime), more research into the effects of CF on sexual and reproductive health is needed.
I'll eventually write blog posts explaining how I treat each of these issues, and I'll link to them here.
For now, you can check out the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's website to learn more.
Are you dying?
Yes, I will eventually die. You will too.
Life expectancy is an estimated statistic, not an expiration date. The life expectancy for a baby born with CF in 1985 (the year I was born) was only 16 years.. and here I am: a living, breathing, 33 year old.
I’ll eventually write a blog post about this too, and link to it here.
Why can’t you just get a lung transplant?
Reasons. For real though, I’ll eventually write a blog post about this and link to it here.
What is cystic fibrosis related diabetes?
CF related diabetes (CFRD) is neither Type I nor Type II, but shares characteristics with both. People with CFRD can be insulin deficient, insulin resistant, or both. (I am both.)
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website has a good amount of information on CFRD too.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows on the outside of the reproductive organs and can spread to other organs. It can cause inflammation, pain, adhesions, and infertility.
The Mayo Clinic has more information on this.
Is endometriosis related to your cystic fibrosis?
No, not officially. The actual causes of endometriosis are unknown, but low body mass index and irregular menstruation (both symptoms of CF) have been suggested as possible risk factors.
Since CF is genetic, are you planning on having kids?
There are a few things I choose not to share on social media or the internet, and this one of those things.
Are you single?
My love life is another thing I intentionally choose not to share on social media or the internet.
Do you collect disability?
No, I do not currently collect any government benefits.
Do you take anything for your depression, anxiety, and PTSD?
I’m not currently taking any medication for my mental health, but I have in the past. I believe the use of medication can be a hugely beneficial part of a person’s mental health treatment, and I think it's problematic that so many people in the yoga community preach against it. Let’s end pill shaming!
Why are you vegan?
Technically speaking, I'm not vegan.
I've been dairy free for over a decade, because I read somewhere that dairy creates mucus in the body. The science is out on whether or not that's physiologically true, but it seems to be true for my body, and seeing that thick sticky mucus is the cause of most of my health issues.. I see no reason to go back.
I stopped eating eggs and red meat (and gluten) after doing an elimination diet in 2010, and discovering that they cause painful indigestion, acid reflux, and CF related gastrointestinal issues in my body.
In 2012, after watching a few documentaries on Netflix about the conditions in which animals are raised to produce poultry, I started buying strictly organic chicken and turkey products, because antibiotic resistance is a huge concern for me.
It was in 2016, when my health was rapidly declining, that I decided to officially cut birds and fish from my diet. The decision was purely self preserving then, but now, it’s moreso because I think the wellness and sustainability of our planet is more important that our desire to consume animal products.
I don't eat any animal products or byproducts, but I don't call myself "vegan" because I'm still working on the other aspects of that lifestyle (clothing, cosmetics, vitamins, etc).
Are you a yoga teacher?
No. I made it through four months out of a twelve month 200 hour program with Dragonfly Yoga Studio in 2017, but had to drop out because of my declining health.
I've been reading lots of books from various studios' required readings lists though, and I practice regularly - both on my own, and under the instruction of the amazing teachers on YogaGlo.
I do hope to complete a training someday. I’d love to one day put together a workshop on pranayama (breathing exercises) for people with lung conditions, and advocate for more accessible practices.
What kind of dog is Oliver?
Oliver is part Matlese, part Poodle. So he's a Maltipoo.
I showed up at Arizona Small Dog Rescue hoping to adopt a two year old female miniature poodle that they had posted on their Facebook, but she had already been taken home with another family. I was sad. I had been searching for a small hypoallergenic rescue dog for months, and I thought that poodle was meant for me! But the woman who was working at the shelter told me to hold on, to go into the pet meeting room, because she had "the perfect puppy" for me.
Little Baby Olly was rescued by a group of people who saw him struggling to climb his way out of a canal in Phoenix in early December 2011. He was only eight months old. His fur had been matted so he had to be shaved. He was so emaciated that you could see every vertebrae and rib. He really looked like one of those sad pathetic creatures in the tearjerker ASPCA commercials. Admittedly, I was kinda creeped out. At first, he ran over to a corner and cowered. Then the woman who worked for the shelter shoo'd him my way, and he hid under the chair where I was sitting. I looked down between my legs at him, and then it happened. He poked his sad little face out from under the chair, looked up at me with his big puppy dog eyes, and told me that he'd love me forever if I took care of him.
So now I take care of him, and he does love me.. almost as much as I love him.
Have you tried drinking celery juice every morning? What about adding bone broth or ghee into your diet? Eating only kitchari? Diffusing Essential Oils?
So many questions! I hope to get to all of them eventually - here or in blog posts.