Sunday, January 15, 2017

Loving and Living Australia

Australia is an amazingly beautiful country.  I can't believe how beautiful and wonderful this place is.  I feel like i am literally living in a dream.  I have spent 2 weeks here already.  It has gone so fast.  I spent my first few days in Melbourne getting accustomed to the 19 hour change.  I rang in the new year with fireworks outside my Airbnb apartment.  Then On Jan 4th my friend Terry and I set out on an amazing adventure up the Eastern Coast of Australia.  We traveled for 12 hours to arrive in Sydney.  Stopping along the way at the Parliment house and to see the Ned Kelly statue. That is where I tried my first sausage roll and had a iced coffee which turned out to be a coffee flavored milkshake. 

Once we arrived in Sydney we had some pretty crappy weather. Despite that we continued on to visit the Opera House, see shows, and climb the Sydney Harbor bridge. We also did a little walk in the sky tower there and took a look at all that surrounds Sydney. We spent a lot of time up in the air! Not many pics from the high adventures as cameras were not allowed up there! 



Inside the Opera House 


Bondi Beach 🌊 was crazy exciting to visit! 


After Sydney we headed off to the Gold Coast - stay tuned for the next update. 

I apologize for being so behind in posting. It took a while to settle in now that I am in Melbourne. But I hope to keep working on getting my blog up to date now. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Flying to Melbourne

I'm 6.5 hours into the flight - have 3:45 left to go. I am wiping away the tears of yesterday and looking into the smiles of tomorrow. I am looking forward to reconnecting with friends, meeting new, exploring, swimming, coffee drinking , eating, trying a new gym - having fun, trying a new transplant center, and just overall learning more about myself as a 35 year old woman. I am free to be me. I am free to take steps into an independence. I have been struggling at home. Feeling trapped and like a bird in a cage. This Lark is spreading her wings. This adventure is a walkabout - a learning experience - hopefully full of life, love, friendship. laughter, health,  triumph, failure, loneliness, growth, expansion, and discovery. But whatever else life has in store is ok - I am up for the adventure. I am up for the life experiences. I want to surround myself with positivity and strength. I want to believe I can do this, I can do anything. Everyday I will be grateful for whatever experience comes forth - good or bad. Without pain we don't have the growth or realization of how sweet happiness truly is. Now my biggest challenge is to not buy too many things over this time- hahaa! As I left Hawaii on Dec 30, 2016  I crossed the interenational dateline and will be landing on Dec 31,2016. It is New Years Eve when I land. I am excited to bring in the new year with this brand new adventure - I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year - and my resolution for 2017 is to explore and follow my heart ❤️ 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

And I'm off!

Wow. I am sitting in the air right now looking into my future for the next 3 months. I have been going full force for the past few months in preparation. So fast infact I haven't had many moments to let the magnitude of what I am doing set in. Well it is setting in. I had no idea I would have tears streaming down my face as I enter into this adventure. I think it is reality setting in along with my body letting go of so much stress, and way too much lack of sleep. I will miss the comfort of home. I am so thankful Casey will be taking care of things at home and I know he will do a great job. I will miss him and my cats - but I must follow my own journey right now. 

Last night as I was finished packing - or so I thought I weighed my suitcases and they were WAY over the limit. I just didn't realize how much weight my pills and medical supplies took up. I had to take out about 20lbs of clothes - remember I am going for 3 months - this isn't just two weeks - and I will be training, exploring, swimming and going to events and such. I really didn't over pack as it was and I had to take out to the bare minimum. Casey will send me a package so I can have my jeans and few shirts I really wanted but just didn't have space for. It is so frustrating because I can't ship the meds - or have them delivered to Australia so I had to do it this way. In the end I got it all together and I will be fine. The other thing that happened was I went to pack a DVD I had purchased with Olympic swimmers explaining butterfly drills and ways to practice to develop your stroke. Well, I went to put the DVD in my bag and it was not in the case. We tore the house apart looking for it - to no avail. I will say for certain that threw me off my rocker to top of a very stressful night of packing. The good thing is it is done. Now I can move forward- we ordered the DVD and Casey will also ship that to Australia so I can encorporate the butterfly drills into my practices. 

I thought by 8pm I had everything under control then bam - had to reevaluate my entire suitcase. I don't know why I figured it didn't weigh so much - but I think I also had in my head the 40kilos which was for both suitcases and I was thinking that for one - but anyways. It wouldn't be an Anna adventure without some stupid drama. 

I think I really did accomplish everything I needed to get done except realized just a minute ago I forgot to deposit a check- oh well. 

Right now I am heading to Oahu where my dear friend Joanna recently purchased her first home! Yay! I am looking forward to catching up with her. We are souls sisters who have been friends since 6th grade. We have had different paths but always come together and support and love eachother so much. I am very much looking forward to her getting my mind and soul and heart in line as I proceed on my adventure. I hope I can also support her and see and enjoy her new place! 

We have signed up for a Orange Theory Fitness class today at 4:15pm so we will also be working up a sweat. Probably good to get all my wiggles out. Just hope I don't get too sore and uncomfortable on the plane. 

I want to sign off this blog post by thanking everyone for the unbelievable support as I go on this journey. The last well wishes, visits, drop bys, hugs, and texts. I feel the love and as much as it makes me feel strong it makes me miss home more knowing how I am surrounded by the most incredible people. I am with you all in your hearts. Love you all! 

With immense gratitude for my donor I enter into this next adventure...... 

Monday, December 19, 2016

10 days ...

I am sitting here on the couch, snuggled in with a cat at my side and a warm blanket on.  It is freezing cold outside for Silicon Valley Weather, 41 degrees F.  Christmas is in less than a week and New years will happen soon after.  The end of 2016.  It has been an incredible year reaching such incredible goals and health wise I have been so fortunate.  I have set goals and achieved them in the pool and I can't wait to achieve more in this coming 2017.  Working towards the World Transplant Games has been a dedication this year.  I started a few months ago starting back up with my Orange Theory Workouts.  I also started working with a trainer working on my strength and mobility training.  I also have been working on my breathing with special techniques that are changing the way I perform athletically.  It is incredible to see even further changes within my abilities.  Now, it is time for me to dedicate myself further as I head out on my "swimcation" in Australia.

The past few months have been filled with working 2 jobs, my usual at the YMCA and adding another with CFRI, in addition to finding new tenants for our condo and getting the old ones moved out and new ones moved in.  It is a job that doesn't happen often - but when it happens while having 2 jobs and getting ready for a trip, it is quite an undertaking! Despite the business  It has been such a joy to join the women of CFRI and work together for a cause my family has been supporting since I was just diagnosed 33 years ago!  I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to help out at CFRI and have learned a lot about myself as an employee and what I would like to do next and in the future.

In addition to the double shifts, I am catching up with friends old and new saying my "see ya laters" and filling people in on the goings on of my life.  I am so fortunate to have such incredible friends who have always supported me no matter what.  I wasn't sure how people would respond with me disappearing to the other side of the world for so long - but everyone has responded with love and understanding and simple support that I am on the right path to follow my heart, and my drive.

My other full time job is my health - and i have been making sure to get in a follow up appointment with all my doctors, get meds ordered and counted.  I need to bring enough meds for 92 days, plus extra.  It wasn't an easy feat and took months in advance to plan for this.  Strategic ordering, vacation overide refills, new prescriptions, new bipap machine, learning how to flush my own port - getting supplies for that.  Also figuring what vitamins and drugs I can get when I am in Australia so I can lighten the load.  It has been an organization feat!  I am so proud of myself though - there are so many potholes for fear and anticipation and i just keep pushing through and instead feeling excitement!

I am very excited to have my apartment, hang out with my Australian friends, spend time discovering the city of Melbourne by myself.  Pushing myself to ride public transport and not have a car of my own.  My biggest feat will be grocery shopping with my 2 hands and no trunk of the car - this CF girl eats a LOT!

I have made a few friends through Facebook who also have lung transplants or are waiting.  They have helped me get in touch with the transplant center in Melbourne and my transplant team is thrilled I want to be seen and followed there at the Alfred while I am away.  My team always tells me how impressed they are with the fact I want to always take care of myself.  I told them no trip is worth compromising my future health for - it is all done within reason.  I may be a little crazy but it is always a controlled crazy.

I am looking forward to Christmas with my family - seeing my sister as our time together is so few and far between.  I am getting some good time in with my family before I leave too - making my connections and sharing my love and gratitude for family and friends is so important to me.  I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all of you.

It feels so very special to me too that my layover on the way to Australia is on Oahu and I get to spend 20 hours with one of my dearest friends Joanna.  I am looking forward to her send off.  I arrive in Australia on Dec 31st, just in time to ring in the new year.  It feels very fortuitous that I get to bring in the new year in this new country I will call home for a few months.  I am launching on my new journey - dedicating my time and energy to swimming and exploring a new city and delving into my own soul and self exploration.  My version of eat, pray, love - why I re-named my blog Travel, Swim, Breathe. Bring on 2017!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Anna Banana's Shirt Designs

Hello Readers! 

What chaos it has been in America.  I wanted to come back to my blog to touch base and keep moving forward with life.  Over the years since I was waiting for my transplant I have designed Tshirts that support Organ, Eye & Tissue donation.  It has always been amazing to see how much support has been given to me and the cause by people sporting their shirts and having fun wearing them!  Well, after a 2 year break I am back with New Tshirts!  I created the design with the idea that organ donors are Heros, and Super Heros at that.  Even just registering makes you a super hero in my book!  Please check out the design and the different options for purchase.  I would be thrilled if you wore them, your family, and friends.  It is never a bad idea to spread awareness with a fun and comfy shirt too! 

If you would like to register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor you can do so at the following link

Check out the designs and please order them from the website Below.  We have 24 more days before the campaign closes. Please share my shirts on your Facebook page or Blog.  I am trying to sell at least 150 shirts and sweatshirts!

Thank you so kindly for your support!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Port Flushin

I have had a port in my chest since I was 19 years old.  I have had 2 ports total.  My first one came out the day my new one went in.  I remember that I got my newest during the campaigns for the 2008 elections.  I remember very specifically cleaning my incision with the TV on and McCain announcing that Sarah Palin would be his running mate.  So I have had my current port for 8 years.

What is a port some of you may ask?  A port is short for a por-a-cath implant.  It is a small tunneled central venus access device.  This means it is "easy access" into my blood stream for any infusion I may need.  I have horribly small veins in my arms and early on I had to get a port to be able to administer the IV therapy I had to do frequently with my CF lungs.  Many transplant patients are not allowed to keep their ports anymore because of the potential risk of infection or blood clots.  I am not sure how I have gotten away with it but my docs have let me keep mine, which i am eternally grateful.  I need it every 3 months for an infusion I get for my bones.  I cannot tolerate the oral drugs they have now a days for osteoperosis so i must get this infusion which eases my suffering of flu like symptoms when i take the other medications, so I don't mind at all. Anyways, I have been a very compliant patient taking very good care of my port and (knock on wood) have had no problems so far.

For maitneance of the port you must flush it with saline and heparin to keep it from clotting.  I have done this at home for about 13 years. Early on Casey learned how to flush my port so I did not have to go in to the hospital every month to get my port flushed.  My first port was so deep in my chest there was no way I could have gotten the leverage to poke myself.  It took a 1 1/4inch needled to get in.  I was vain and wanted the port in my breast tissue.  It was great by vanity stand point, but difficult to maintain.  When I got my second port the doc suggested to have it further up my chest.  I obliged and now you can see my port a bit, especially since I have gotten much thinner in the past couple years. So now you can see it well and it is easy for me to try to access it myself. But until yesterday I had never tried before.

I have been thinking about doing this myself for a few months - before I even concieved the idea to travel to Australia by myself. But now, since I am going away for 3 months I need to be able to flush the port on my own.  It was a great push to do it myself.  So yesterday I stood up to the challenge and got it done!  I was so proud of myself that I finally did it.  I was worried i would sit there shaking for a couple minutes before attempting, but I was strong and solid - except for my normal shakes I have from the drugs I take. 

The one thing I did learn is i need to make sure I have sterile gloves that FIT me.  It would be much easier with those.... HA!  Here are some pics from the process -

Setting up the stage with a sterile field and everything laid out to stay clean
Cleaning the site- I clean first with alcohol then with chlorhexadine

The ultimate focus to get that needle in! 

 I did it!!! 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

92 days of planning ahead!

I wanted to use this blog to share some of what goes into getting ready for a trip of this magnitude with having CF, transplant, diabetes, and sleep apnea. For starters I took inventory of all the pills I have back piled in my house.  
This is no small task! I get a 3 month supply of drugs every month so I do have a good supply of meds. However I literally had to count every pill I have to start planning when I would re-order my prescriptions and what new RX scripts I need to get me covered for the time I am away. For the most part I should be good with drugs but there are a couple that I take that will have to be strategically ordered to make sure I have enough for the 92 days I am away from home. 

The other things I must consider to bring are supplies for my bipap machine - which I am getting a new model before I leave - yay! So I will need a supply of filters, tubing, mask replacement. 
I also have to remember my sinus flushes - bringing salt packets for flushes. 
My port must be flushed every month - I will bring a supply of needles,saline, heparin, and sterile supplies for monthly flushing - not to mention I am gonna teach myself to put a needle in my chest! Wish me luck with this because I am gonna try for the first time today! (I'll do a follow up post on this adventure).!
I also have to bring enough strips and testing supplies for my blood glucose meter, extra needles extra insulin. 
I have Gastrointestinal involvement with my CF so I must also bring some of my emergency supplies for my gut. The good thing is I can purchase my miralax (known in Australia and South Africa as Movicol) in the country so I only need to bring a small supply. 
There is barely any room for my clothes and gifts for people! I will put drugs in my shoes if I need to! 

I am also working on getting my medical records put together for if/when I will be seen in clinic at The Alfred in Melbourne: I have already been in touch with them and they are happy to invite me into their clinic. 

I have also begun the parade of doctors visits. I had to scramble to move around all my appointments so I can see everyone before I leave. I started with a Sleep clinic appointment on Friday and have a ENT (sinus doc) appointment on Wednesday this week. I basically have a doctor appointment every week between now and Christmas!

The other big thing to consider when planning a trip like this is trip insurance and trip medical insurance. I will post about these in a new post to dedicate the time they need. 

All these things to think about and plan in addition to the "normal" stuff of making sure things are taken care of at home. My car is in the shop as we speak getting its maintence as well. 

The good thing is that I am good at organizing and planning - so I am on top of it. I just hope every piece comes together in due time and we have any freak outs before I leave. Staying on top of these things always allows for the mishaps that come with everything especially dealing with the medical system. 

If you ask me what I am up to - this kind of planning is what is up currently! Along with the regular day to day! 

Here is also my first collection of drugs that will be making it across the the ocean with me. This is probably half of the meds I need to bring with. Fun ya!? I am just so grateful my insurance covers a 3 month supply and I am able to make this trip work. I am also thankful I have these drugs to begin with to keep me alive. It is a small price to pay actually for the amazing gifts I have been given in my life. 💊💊💊