As soon as you saw the title of this blog post, I know you got a little curious. And now, as you look at the picture to the left, you're asking yourself two questions:
1. What are Josh's Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) numbers?
2. Why aren't they posted as a part of the photo?
Both are valid questions, so let me start answering them by telling you a story I've only referred to in previous blog posts:
It was 1991. I was a "tweenager" at the time and the routine was always the same. If my sister, Angie, happened to be in the hospital for one of her extended stays, then my mom and I would go visit her as soon as my CF clinic appointment was done. We would stroll into her room and I'd have a big smile on my face, so proud that my numbers were off the charts and that my health was at it's peak, despite being a teenage fool and skipping many a med and treatment.
Angie's first words to me were the same at every visit, spoken out of concern and curiosity: "Hi (insert sisterly insult here), how was your appointment and what were your PFT numbers?"
Without a second thought, I trumpeted my numbers to her with such a callous tone as if they were no big deal and took little effort to accomplish. Not because I meant it that way, but because at the time it was the truth and I took it for granted. Normally, Angie would say something encouraging to me, giving me a high-five and a big smile. This time she was silent, but she managed to force a smile to her lips. I thought nothing of it as I maliciously changed the channel on Angie's hospital TV from "Oprah" to "Chip n Dale's Rescue Rangers". Our visits continued on their normal path without another awkward pause, save the needless argument about what to watch on the boob tube.
Later on that evening, many hours after we came home, I could hear my mother's voice as one side of a conversation trying to soothe the caller on the other end of the line. She was talking to my sister.
"I know it's not fair. You should be as healthy as he is too. I don't know why that's not the case."
"Don't you worry about his numbers. You're doing a great job taking care of yourself. I'm so proud of you and so is your brother."
"Okay. I'll be there as soon as I can tomorrow. I love you, Totsie."
The next time I had a clinic appointment, Angie was thankfully at home, curled up on the couch watching a movie. When I walked in the door, she asked me that same question: "Hi (insert sisterly insult here), how was your appointment and what were your numbers?"
"They were good." I replied. "How are you feeling?"
Before we could reply, our friend Jim would always say:
"It's just a number."