The Many Colors of Cystic Fibrosis: Grey (Part 2)

In my previous article, I explained why grey is an essential color in my journey with cystic fibrosis (CF).

Back to the color grey.

Grey awareness ribbons

The grey awareness ribbon represents a few important categories: asthma, diabetes, and allergies.

Before being diagnosed with CF, I was diagnosed with asthma and reactive airway. Shortness of breath and chest tightness plagued my lungs after the most minimal of activities. Like most asthmatics, I used (and still use) an albuterol inhaler and a nebulizer to relieve these symptoms. Unknowingly, these nebulizers relieved some of my cystic fibrosis symptoms, calmed my productive cough, and helped loosen the mucus in my large airways.

In the public eye, there are only two types of Diabetes: type 1 and 2. I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis related diabetes (CFRD) in January 2022. I was always suspected of having diabetes. Many CF patients develop CFRD at a young age due to diet, meds, and genetic mutations.

While my sugars were always “wonky,” my glucose tests always proved to be negative for the disease. As a post-transplant patient, I was even more likely to develop CFRD due to increased steroid use. Headaches, moodiness, weight changes, urine changes, and dehydration led to my diagnosis. I was rushed to the ER in early 2022 with a blood sugar over 600 and an hemoglobin A1C of 10.1. (That’s really high!)

I manage my CFRD by taking short acting insulin every morning and balancing carbs/sugars with protein and exercise.

I also suffer from many drug-related allergies, including Penicillin, Zosyn, and Ceftazadime. Unfortunately, many of my pre-transplant infections were susceptible to these medications. So, I had to treat the infection and endure the itchy side effects. This time of treatment requires desensitization. This is the act of administering a very small dose of the medication, then titrating the dose up until the full dose is tolerated.

A grey history

Did you know that wool represented the impoverished social class and clerics in the Middle Ages? After years of ongoing medical bills that were not covered by insurance, you could say my mom and I were represented by the color grey.

Here’s another interesting fact: Grey was influential in fashion and art during the renaissance. Perhaps I should whip out my old hospital gowns. Remember when they used to be grey instead of blue?

A common grey thread

The color grey is surprisingly common in my chronic illness journey. Famous characters like Bugs Bunny, Inspector Gadget, Thumper (Bambi), Hades (Hercules), Bender (Futurama), Baloo (Jungle Book), and Donkey (Shrek) all provided distraction during lengthy hospital stays. I avoided grey objects that lead to infection like smoke, ash, and pigeons. Mom and I would paint rocks when we needed a sick day activity lucky elephants (trunk up!) decorated my childhood home. The list goes on.

Read more of Nicole's articles here.

What grey things can you find on your CF journey? Share with other CFers in the comments below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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