Friday, October 29, 2010

The 25 ways that CF contributed to making me the man that I am

The other day I wrote the 25 reasons why I hate CF and I got a lot of positive feedback from it. Now I figured I’d show you the top 25 ways that CF molded me as an individual.

25. Loner – While a lot of you may think I’m a people person, I’m not. I tend to want to do everything on my own and crave time to myself. When I was little, my parents did my therapy which meant closing the door away from other people. When I got the vest, it was just me and I learned to close the door on everyone else. Other than my parents, my sister, my kids and my wife, I don’t feel terribly comfortable doing my therapy around anyone.

24. Feeling Different – I’ve always felt that I was hiding something. When I was younger, it was hiding the fact that I had CF. As I got older, I had to hide my therapy equipment and pills from prospective girlfriends in fear that they would look at me as an alien.

23. Being Competitive – I’m a very competitive person. Maybe that’s because doctors were already gambling against me from the time I was born. I’ve always felt I needed to prove myself to everyone because I wasn’t supposed to live this long.

22. Feeling fortunate to have children – I would not have been able to have children had it not been for In Vitro Fertilization. And I would not have had to go through IVF had I not had cystic fibrosis. The process itself was heart-wrenching for Andrea and I, but the end result has made me feel very lucky to have children. I really try to enjoy each day with them.

21. Being a big fundraiser – If I didn’t have a cause to fight for, I doubt I would have ever started Wish for Wendy. My mother created the Santa Claus House when I was little to help beat CF. I learned a lot from her. She taught me that when it comes to fundraising “You’ll never know unless you ask.”

20. Spirituality – I doubt I’d be as spiritual as I am had CF not taken my sister at a very young age. I still believe she’s out there helping me get through this life.

19. Emily – I probably wouldn’t have Emily in my life had CF not been in my life. First off, I believe my parents only wanted 2 kids so Wendy would have still been here. Secondly, my parents would not have gone through the adoption process if they knew they could have kids without the chance of them having CF. I’m thankful for Emily but sad that I never got to meet Wendy.

18. Depression – I doubt I would have had so many depression issues if it hadn’t been for CF. Doctor’s appointments were always scary. Reading about my life expectancy was disheartening. Growing up before I was ready was not what every child dreams about.

17. Author – I know that my story would put the average reader to sleep had I not had to deal with CF. I can see the title now “I grew up in Doraville in a 2 story house with a Basement.” Not exactly a title that makes you want to rip open a book.

16. Speaking – When I was little, I was very afraid of public speaking ever since a poem reading in 5th grade went horribly wrong. I probably never would have done public speaking again however it was a must if I wanted to tell my tale regarding CF and help others. Now I’ve really learned to excel at the art of motivational speaking. I guess I can thank CF.

15. Things I’ve gotten to do – There’s no way I would have run with the Olympic Torch, met celebrities like Garth Brooks, been a ball boy with the Hawks or even participated as a batboy with the Braves if I didn’t have CF. That’s for sure.

14. Growing up quickly – I definitely would not have matured as quickly as I did had it not been for CF. When I was a kid, my friends were worried about having girlfriends, winning at sports and doing homework. While those three topics certainly crossed my mind, my main concern was my health and not having to go on antibiotics.

13. Swallowing pills – I take pills at a record pace. If pill-taking was an Olympic sport, I’d be the Michael Phelps of pill-taking. I can take 10 pills in about 20 seconds going one by one. It’s pretty impressive. I don’t think I would have had this gift without CF.

12. Not taking life for granted – The old cliché is “Don’t take life for granted.” Well, most people do for a majority of their life. That’s not the case for someone born with a terminal illness. Every day is a battle and most every day is a struggle, but if you are breathing by night’s end, then you have succeeded. That’s also why I lift weights and take care of my body like I do. I wouldn’t be in this kind of shape if I didn’t have a terminal disease breathing down my neck.

11. Reading backwards - I would not be able to read any word backwards without CF. That strange habit is kind of my secret trick. I can read any word backwards in seconds. I credit this to the days when I was in high school and just started using my vest. I was bored and couldn’t find anything else to do so I learned to read backwards and after a while I just got really good at it.

10. Meeting Mrs. “RIGHT!” – You learn with a terminal disease how to find the “right” person to spend your life with. I certainly did. Andrea did not judge me for the disease I had. She accepted it and accepted the fact that things were not always going to come easy. She is an amazing woman.

9. Not meeting other people with CF – If I didn’t have CF, I would certainly have met more people with CF in person. Unfortunately, having the disease means that cross-contamination is a big risk in meeting others with the disease. It’s another reason CF can make you feel like a loner.

8. My iguana - This is a funny one but there is no way I’d have an iguana in college named CF Phlegmington. That was a name my friend Aaron came up with so that I didn’t take CF so seriously. Unfortunately I didn’t take very good care of the iguana and my mom ended up giving him away. There’s no truth to the rumor that the little guy once used my vest, but Aaron did.

7. Addiction – While I blame only myself for my addiction problems, certainly some of my symptoms could be caused by CF. As an addict, I always want to do more. Some of that comes from having CF and always wanting to prove myself more.

6. Starting a foundation – If I didn’t have CF, I doubt I’d care much about awareness for the disease. Since I do and since my sister died from it, it is a passion of mine to spread awareness about the disease. That’s why we started the Wish for Wendy Foundation.

5. The kinship with my son – I don’t think I’d feel as close to Ethan as I do without having CF. Ethan had a brain infarct at birth and the doctors were very pessimistic about our young son. Having CF though, I knew that it was possible to defy the odds. My son is a daddy’s boy today and I believe he feels that kinship too. We both proved our doctors wrong.

4. My knowledge of CF and my politics – I definitely would be like the majority of the planet and had no idea what cystic fibrosis was if I didn’t have the disease. I also wouldn’t be voting for aggressive stem cell research if I didn’t have a disease to worry about. However now that I have a wife with MS and a son who had an infarct, it wouldn’t matter if I had CF. I am in favor of stem cell research.

3. My parents – I definitely would not have appreciated my parents as much if I didn’t have CF. My parents administered my postural drainage from the time I was an infant until 10th grade when I got the vest. That required a half hour a day of hitting my back, sides and front so the phlegm in my lungs would loosen. I’m sure there were days that they actually enjoyed hitting me though as I was kind of a smart ass. Hard to believe I’m sure.

2. Can’t you see that I can fight it but remember only strong individuals survive – I definitely wouldn’t use that line or even come up with that line if I didn’t have CF. The phrase is actually an acronym. Take the first letter from each word and it spells out two words – cystic fibrosis.

1. Getting to know many of you – I would not know others who have associations to CF or have the friends I have from Wish for Wendy if I didn’t have cystic fibrosis. I’m pretty grateful to have you in my life. I’ve learned a lot from you. I’m certainly better for knowing you.

Do I owe cystic fibrosis my gratitude for this list of 25? Nah, but I do want the disease to know that I CAN find 25 things to be thankful for despite having a life-threatening disease. “If a man brushes everything aside that is negative, greatness can flourish!” That’s a self-created quote as well and another acronym. I’ll let you figure it out.

Have a good one!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wish for Wendy is only 10 days away!

Well, we are closing on a million at Wish for Wendy. We had another meeting last night and everything is coming together. We have a lot of sponsors involved and some great guests at the event including: The Atlanta Falcon Cheerleaders, Caboose the Clown, Monkey Joe, The Chick Fil-A Cow, EEP Events (our DJ) and Star 94 who will do a 3-hour remote from the event. Also If you live in Atlanta, tune in as they are airing several spots for us. I'm also looking forward to the person(s) throwing out the first pitch. It's going to be very emotional. There will be a presentation made. You don't want to miss it. This usually takes place around 9:45 am. We are also pursuing a few celebrities and one of them is very big. I don't know that we'll get him but we are continuing to try.

A Wish for Wendy has raised about $980,000 overall as we speak. That means we are very close to hitting the magic number. I'm looking forward to seeing my cousin Barrett and my Aunt Loretta as they are flying in for the event.

As far as how I'm doing, I am still learning what it is to be an addict though I've probably unknowingly been one for most of my life. I have learned that I not only have to be cautious but attentive when it comes to dealing with my issues. I have to be smart and not emotional. I have to avoid justifying and learn to recognize. Being an addict means accepting that I will always be a recovering addict and never a "recovered" addict because addictions are never gone for good.

Along this course, I have met several other people dealing with addiction and/or depression. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one. We all have different ways to get better but as long as they give us the same healthy outcome, that's certainly ok.

I have been taking fish oil gel capsules lately and I feel a lot more alert lately. My mind is thinking better and I feel a lot more awake during the day. It's quite incredible. I've read that it lowers cholesterol too. I've also been eating more oatmeal and trying to cut out cheese, sodas and other high cholesterol products. To date, I have gone from 197 pounds on September 10th which is when I was diagnosed with high cholesterol to 183 pounds on October 27th which is a 14 pound weight loss in about 7 weeks. I don't plan to lose any more weight. I also want to continue to eat foods that are low in cholesterol. I go back for my glucose test in a month and I want a lower cholesterol score so I don't have to go on cholesterol meds.

Funny moment of the week:

I got home Monday last week and put my head on the pillow. I looked over at Avery and just closed my eyes and took a deep breath. She then said to me:

"Long day, huh?"

I responded a bit in shock as to how mature she sounded, "Yeah."

"Me too, daddy. I had school all day."

I swear to you my daughter gains a few years every week. She passed my maturity level months ago (That's not saying much as Ethan passed it yesterday). I look forward to having some daddy-daughter time this weekend. Maybe we'll go to Malibu. Maybe we'll hit the park. At the pace she's learning, maybe she can do my taxes while we play putt-putt.

I wish everyone a good weekend. Don't forget our 11 for 11 at Wish for Wendy. It's sure to be a big hit. You have a chance to win 2 airline tickets to anywhere in the continental US!



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rough week

It's been a rough last 7 days. As I continue making my amends, I finally decided to e-mail the babysitter who beat me up when I was a kid. The letter wasn't the easy part but hitting "send" was even harder. My therapist told me I could write the note and then trash it and just never send it but that seemed cowardly to me. This guy beat the absolute crap out of me and scared me to death as a kid. I won't stand for that anymore. I figured if anything I owed it to Andy Lipman the little kid who feared for his life. Needless to say, I have e-mailed him and will hopefully get a response.

Last Friday, I got some very disheartening news. A friend of mine who I buy from at work and who talks about family every time we meet had something horrible happen. This is the guy who always asks about your family before he talks about anything work-related. He's offered to take my whole family to dinner in the past. Well, about 10 days ago, his son was killed in a freak home accident. His son was only 5. It's horrible and I can't stop thinking about John and I can't stop thinking about my kids and how delicate life truly is. That's why I enclosed a picture of my babies. They are literally all I can think about since I got the news from John.

My year of sobriety is around the corner and I was thinking what I've learned through the process. Here is my list.

1) Just because you are taking the steps to get better, doesn't mean you'll get better.
2) No one is perfect and thinking you have to be perfect is more dangerous than being incredibly imperfect.
3) People aren't necessarily bad because of their actions. Their actions are bad but maybe there's a good person living inside the person whose actions were awful. Maybe that person, with the right help, can not only recover but make the world a better place by helping others who have been through similar issues.
4) It's not easy to be open and honest but it's incredibly worthwhile.
5) Asking for help doesn't make you weak. Never asking for help when you definitely need it is a sign of weakness in my opinion.
6) No matter how bad you think your problems are, there are many people who have encountered worse.
7) It's not hard to find motivation when you have a beautiful family to look at every day.
8) It's not helpful to be hard on yourself. It makes everything worse for you and everyone around you.
9) Being humbled every now and then is a pretty good cure for an addict.
10) Family is priority. While we all say that, sometimes you (or at least I) didn't make my family the priority I should have. That's never happening again.

I'm doing pretty well healthwise. My softball team won again last night. We are now 5-0. Andrea and the kids have been under the weather but thankfully all of them are coming out of it. I am currently working on 4 projects at work that could add significant savings for our company. We have a Wish for Wendy meeting tonight and Emily's birthday is tomorrow night (Don't forget her store Raw Denim!!!). Dad is doing well and adjusting to being back home.

Please pray for my friend John. My heart still aches for him and his family.

Best Wishes,

Thanks for listening.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The top 25 things I hate about CF

The 25 things that I despise about having CF.

25. Therapy - Doing my vest and aerosol therapies everyday and losing a couple of hours that I could spend with my wife and children. When I was little, it always made me feel different and alone because I was not allowed to do certain things or go to certain places.

24. Coughing - I hate coughing. I feel like everyone looks at me as if I'm sick and contagious. And quite honestly if you have a coughing attack, it can become really painful.

23. Taking pills - Just once, I'd like the only things I have to remember for a meal to be my fork and knife. Having to remember pills and take them in front of people tends to make every meal an ordeal and it can be quite uncomfortable as well.

22. Life expectancy - I hate having a life expectancy. When I was born, it was 12. When I was 7, it was 25. Now it's 37. Who cares? No one knows their median life expectancy. Life is full of surprises.

21. Going to the doctor - Going to the doctor at least a half dozen times a year is not fun especially when you are going for something life-threatening.

20. Having to go through IVF to have our children - I wish we could have done it the easier, more fun way. I'm sure Andrea agrees there.

19. CF makes your bowels smellier - As if it's not bad enough that it limits having children and forces you to take pills and do treatments, it also makes your trips to the restroom an uncomfortable experience.

18. Cancer - CF makes it more likely that I can have certain types of cancer. I believe I have enough life-threatening things, but thank you.

17. Colds - I can't get near anyone who is sick or who smokes. Bars are pretty much out of the question because of the smoke. If I catch a cold, it doesn't last a couple of days. Sometimes it can last weeks and worst case it can cause a major infection.

16. IV antibiotics - I am lucky to have only done them once but having needles stuck in your arm and having nurses poke and prod me for weeks is not exactly my fantasy.

15. No Marketing Plan - There isn't much recognition of the disease. Everyone knows about cancer, AIDS and heart disease but CF kind of falls by the wasteside. We need more spokespersons.

14. Death of Peers - I have lost a lot of friends who have the disease that I know through the Web.

13. Alienation - I can't be around others with the same disease due to the possibility of spreading bacterial infections. Talk about feeling alone.

12. Explanation - Having to explain it to people. It's not always easy to explain. Plus it makes me feel like a freak because I have all of these problems.

11. Having to explain it to my kids - How do you explain to your children that you have a life-threatening disease? How do you tell them that their dad isn't expected to be here as long as most dads? If you know, please tell me because I have no idea. I'm also worried that my kids will need to grow up a lot faster than their peers because of my disease.

10. Lab Rat - Asked to be a part of all of these case studies and experiments. I'm not a lab rat. I'm a person. I have people tell me you're a perfect candidate for this because of these issues that you have. Do they realize that's not exactly a way to make me feel good?

9. Acronyms - I've found myself coming up with Acronyms for CF like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation did with Cure Found. So far I have "Can Fight, Can Function, Can't Fail, Cape Fear (I like horror movies), and Can Fundraise! It's annoying but I can't stop.

8. Depression and other mental issues - I'm not letting CF take all of the blame for my problems but there is a good portion that I can credit to growing up with this disease and being scared and unsure of how to deal.

7. Fear - I fear dying before my children grow up. I fear leaving Andrea without a husband. I fear getting sick.

6. CF Related Diabetes - or CFRD - it's a type of CF Diabetes that is very common. That's why I have a glucose test every year.

5. I'm the patient - CF is still known as a young person's disease so sometimes when I get X-rays they ask where the patient is and they ask if it's my son.

4. Where's the Cure - I believe there will be a cure one day but I've been told a cure could be 7 to 10 years away for the last 25 years. It makes the doctors seem like the boy who cried wolf.

3. Knowing that a lung transplant is a good possibility - It's scary to think that there's a pretty good chance I could get a lung transplant. I'm scared of having that surgery as it can be fatal. I'm scared of feeling so sick that a transplant will seem like a relief. I'm scared I'll be carrying oxygen around one day.

2. Knowing that my kids will be carriers of this awful disease - I just want it to die and not be carried on. My kids and their spouses will have to be screened before having kids. I wish I could take that worry away from them.

1. Losing Wendy to this damn disease! I would have liked to have an older sister that I could talk about these other 24 concerns with. It's hard to believe that you could never meet someone yet still miss them. That's the case when it comes to my feelings for my big sister. May she rest in peace.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Andy's sports weekend

The Rivalry

Well, it was a semi-good weekend. Andrea and I went to our 10th installment of Georgia-Florida. This wonderful rivalry began in 2001 when Georgia shocked Tennessee on a last-second touchdown in Knoxville. Andrea and I now have a bet where the kids have to wear the shirts of the winning team. Well, this year the Dawgs gave me a 6-4 advantage in the all-time rivaly with a 41-14 triumph over the Vols! Pictures of my beautiful children (even more beautiful in this picture) are enclosed.

The Braves

I'm still crying on the inside. We were there last night as Brooks Conrad made 3 errors to cost the Braves a victory but I don't blame that BC as much as I do the other BC! Bobby Cox should have never had him in there and should have never taken out our new closer, Craig Kimbrell. I know players love Cox because he's loyal but I claim he's loyal to a MAJOR fault. He gives guys too many chances. Conrad had about 6 errors in his last 6 games yet Cox still left him in there. It was frustrating to watch as ball after ball went through Brooks' glove. What made things worse is we were stuck in the Turner Field parking lot for about 90 minutes as the parking attendants tried to figure out how to let cars out one at a time. Talk about frustrating!

Emily got to sit in the Suntrust seats and was a few seats over from Dr. J, President Jimmy Carter and Ted Turner. We also saw Jason Bateman on the Jumbotron as he was there filming a movie. Maybe he can do the Brooks Conrad story as another project.

The Falcons

I'm really proud of the Falcons. We're now 4-1 and on the path towards a high seed in the NFC playoffs. The Birds won a big road game in Cleveland yesterday. In the past, we would have lost a game like this but we hung tough and got the victory.

That was the weekend. I hope all of you had a good weekend. If you're interested in donating to Wish for Wendy and supporting my Wish page, please go to Thanks.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Today's Health Update

Well, I went to the doctor on Wednesday and found out my cholesterol was indeed high but they'll give me 4 more months to lower it. I have been on a diet for four weeks and actually weighed myself this morning and realized I've lost 10 of the 12 pounds I set as a goal by the middle of this month. I've completely cut out sodas and have lowered my sugar intake quite a bit. I still have my Twizzlers from time to time but much less of them. I finished Tobi yesterday. I was thrilled about that. That's two more hours of my time per day that I can now spend with Andrea and the kids.

I was going through my pill bottles this morning and I found one bottle that still has Dr. Wolfenden's name on it because she put in the prescription. It's going to be sad when her name disappears from future prescriptions. I miss her.

I had an addiction meeting last night. It went really well. I had a friend join me who was going through something similar to what I was going through nearly a year ago. I hope he got a lot out of it. I also completed my 12 steps yesterday. I was really excited. I'm not ready to sponsor yet. I want to wait till after Wish for Wendy but also I want to work on things to continue to improve my family life first. Family is my number one priority.

This cold weather of late only reminds me that winter is near. The days will be shorter and the opportunities to go outside will lessen. I also realize that my health is always at risk the colder it gets. I will keep it together this time though as I realize how important my sobriety is to keeping my loved ones happy.

A Wish for Wendy is going well. We are close to $950,000 which means we are getting closer to $1 million. We also have a few celebrities that have committed. I'll announce the entire group when we get them. If you want to donate under my name for our cause, please go to Thanks.

Tonight we are celebrating my dad and mom's return and my dad's good health. He's really happy to be home. We are really excited to have the whole family back together again. I have included a picture of dad, or as Andrea calls him "Andy Lipman in 30 years" because of our clone-like looks.

I stayed up to watch the Braves game last night. Here is my analysis. Conrad needs to be a pinch-hitter only. Glaus deserves a shot at third. Lincecum is a heck of a pitcher. The announcers were not that good but I still prefer TBS to Fox. Game 2 is today so hopefully the Braves will show up.

Tomorrow we head to Athens for Georgia-Tennessee or what some people will probably call it "The Toilet Bowl." Our program has regressed the last few years so much so that we don't get the primetime game anymore and the proof is the announcing crew that makes me cringe every Saturday. Sunday I have Avery's soccer game, then my friend Seth's son's bris. Then the day will close with Andrea, myself, Emily and my dad going to the Braves playoff game. This will be Andrea's first playoff game so I'm excited that she gets to go. Needless to say, this weekend is jam-packed with stuff to do.

I hope everyone else is well. Keep up the fight. Live your dreams and love your life.

Best Wishes,


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dad's Home, Tobi's almost done, the Braves made the playoffs!

Here's what is going on with me.


It's Tuesday and I only have 2 days of Tobi left. I'm so ready to take that 2 hours of therapy out of my day. I have to do Tobi every other month as it is one of the prime drugs to keep pseudomonas away.

More about my speech

I recently was told by another Kiwanis club member that my speech last month was the first in his 27 years at the club that he ever remembered seeing a standing ovation. That was really nice to hear.

Life is busy

Well, the last 7 days have been interesting and especially busy. Last Thursday I had my addiction meeting. It went really well. One of the guys said something that really hit me. He said "You can't help having your addiction, but you can help being a victim of it." I love that line and it's true. When I think of my addiction and how down I was, I thought of the song from Creed called "I've created my own prison." That's what I did. By having more faith in God and myself, I believe I'm destroying that prison and living a healthy life. I want to apply my new coping skills to being a good daddy and husband. These are the two most important roles I've ever had.


I started Zenpep which is a drug that replaces my Pancrease MT-16. This may sound like no big deal to you but I'd been taking Pancrease for over 30 years so this change had me worried. Pancrease is no longer approved by the FDA so that's why it is no longer available. Zenpep helps me digest food. Two days in and no side effects.

Seeing Family

On Friday, Andrea and I went to one of my cousins' bar mitzvahs. I think he's my cousin twice removed or once removed or he was put on probation and now he's allowed to be my cousin again. Anyway, it was nice. It was at the synagogue I grew up in. We met some really cool people and got to hang out with some family that I hadn't seen in years. I even learned that the Lipman family is cursed with people with no direction sense. I was wondering where I got that wonderful trait.

The Braves

On Saturday, Andrea, myself, Emily and a friend of hers went to Bobby Cox day. It was pretty cool to see all of the past players that were there. We actually sat near the suite where most of the players hung out during the game so I got to talk to Fred McGriff briefly. The Braves got crushed so it was another horrible sports day for me as my Dawgs lost to Colorado later that night.

Sunday made up for the bad sports day. After Avery's soccer game, I went home to watch the Braves clinch the wildcard and the Falcons win a last second nailbiter. I can't wait to go to the first playoff game Sunday night. Hopefully we won't be down 2-0 by that point.


Mom and Dad are coming home tonight. I'm so happy they are back. Dad is doing great. We had a Wish for Wendy meeting at my house tonight. Wednesday, Andrea is playing tennis so I have the kids. Thursday I have my meeting. Friday, we are going to dinner with my dad to celebrate his return. Saturday Andrea and I are going to our rivalry game. This will be our 10th consecutive year going to Tennessee-Georgia. I believe I lead the all-time series but it's close as the Dawgs have choked recently. We have a deal that our kids get to wear the winning team's outfits the following day. I will enclose a picture next week HOPEFULLY of the kids wearing red and black. Sunday we are going to the Braves playoff game. It's been about 6 years since a playoff game was played at Turner Field. I hope the crowd is as revved up as I am.

Yesterday my softball team won 10-5 and moved to 3-0. I had a hit but didn't do much else. The team is having fun though and I think we have a real shot to compete for a title if everyone stays healthy. It was cool to see my sister come out and cheer us on. She might just be our good luck charm.

I met with my sponsor today and completed Step 10 and began Step 11. I will be working on Step 11 next week and then turning in my work to my sponsor...and then we will work on the 12th and final step of my recovery process. I'm excited to complete this program. I'm also looking forward to a year of addiction sobriety.

I am going to the doctor tomorrow morning to have my cholesterol looked at. It was high a few weeks ago so I will probably be on more meds. I went to my dietician and got some facts about lowering cholesterol and continue to lose weight by giving up most sodas and some candy. I've gone from 197 three weeks ago to 188. The goal is 185 within 4 weeks. We'll see.

Have a great day!