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In 1989, I experienced a massive hemoptysis event while assigned to the U.S Embassy Khartoum, Sudan. At first we thought this was caused by tuberculosis. No positive sputum culture was possible because all I produced was blood. At the same time, I was failing rapidly. The agency flew my parents to Germany to say good-by. In desperation the doctors administered an aggressive shotgun treatment of all 4 synthetic antibiotics for tuberculosis. Those were dark days and I was convinced they were my last. Fortunately, one of the antibiotics administered became my future best friend Ciproflaxacin. After a year of rest and rehab in the US, I convinced my agency that I was fully cured and took another assignment to US Embassy Managua, Nicaragua. That assignment lasted a little more 14 months before hemoptysis returned. I medvaced to D.C. where a doctor at Walter Reed Medical Center got creative and administered a sweat chloride test–just to rule out the possibility. So, at 36 years old I was officially diagnosed with CF. Everything changed. I moved back out west and started a new life.
I’ve always been very protective of my public identity. The only social media I participate in is LinkedIn and that is as a passive observer.
Sharing my life experience with strangers is not something I’ve considered–until now. I’m about to semi-retire. I have time to reflect. Maybe this is just a process and I’m navel gazing. Maybe I want to finally share what its been like with people who have a clue.
I’m just not sure. But I think I’ll give it a shot.
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