Respiratory therapist and dad who loves camping and the outdoors
"As a respiratory therapist with severe asthma, I have great empathy for my patients. My asthma has given me that connection. Sometimes I talk with my patients who have severe asthma about BT so they know that there is another option when medications are not enough."
My Life Prior to BT:
I’ve had severe asthma my whole life. It was really bad when I was a kid and better controlled during my teenage years, but then became more difficult to manage again as an adult.
Over the years I tried so many different medications and combinations of meds. I was taking Singulair™, Combivent™, Spiriva™, Advair™, Symbicort™, and of course prednisone. I favored inhalers over nebulizers and always had one with me. I was taking multiple puffs 4-6 times per day and sometimes more. I was hospitalized as a kid for severe asthma but not as an adult. Once I became an RT I was very compliant with my meds and called for prednisone before it got out of hand, but that did not mean it wasn’t impacting my life significantly.
It was hard to keep in shape. I partly blame the severe asthma because I had “exercised induced asthma”, so not being able to work out made it difficult to stay healthy. I had many triggers in addition to exercise like pollen, dust mites, even GERD. I had to be careful not to eat too much spicy stuff. I had anxiety around travelling too. What if I am in a situation like camping, and I run out of asthma medications?
As a respiratory therapist, I first learned of Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) in medical journals. It was early on during the clinical trial phase and I kept an eye out for how the treatment did in trials. When I finally decided to do the procedure, I was in a yoga class. I was just relaxing after yoga and a pretty severe attack came on. That was the final straw for me. I thought to myself ‘if I can’t even do yoga without having an asthma attack, something needs to change.’
When I first tried to get BT, my insurance denied it. Then I changed insurance and Blue Cross Blue Shield covered it right away. My pulmonologist did the standard tests, like PFTs, to show I needed this and they approved it right away.
My Life Today
The three BT procedures went pretty smooth for me. I was able to go home the same day after each procedure, but recovery was a little rougher each time. My FEV1 went down and my lungs felt heavy. It was important to take time to recover. I took a week or so off from work after each of the three treatments. I would say after 4 months I felt baseline again. Then at around 8 months I really started to see the benefits.
It has been 4 years now and the benefits have been long lasting. I no longer miss work as a result of my severe asthma. I still take medication, but I am not living in fear of my severe asthma anymore. When I have an attack, it’s much less severe. I still have to watch out for my triggers, but I went from “I might die from severe asthma” to “this is manageable” and that is a very big deal.
I don’t make decisions based on fear of severe asthma attacks anymore. Oregon is a great place to be outdoors and I love to be out in nature. I go camping and I am exercising more. I am still careful if the pollen count is high but, even if it is, I can do P90X indoors. On good weather days, I love to go out for a run. That was something I really couldn’t do in the years leading up to BT because I had to stay indoors most of the time.
Results from case studies are not necessarily predictive of results in other cases. Results in other cases may vary.
Brief Statement of Relevant Indications for Use, Contraindications, Warnings, and Adverse Events: The Alair™ Bronchial Thermoplasty System is indicated for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older whose asthma is not well controlled with inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists. The Alair System is not for use in patients with an active implantable electronic device or known sensitivity to medications used in bronchoscopy. Previously treated airways of the lung should not be retreated with the Alair System. Patients should be stable and suitable to undergo bronchoscopy. The most common side effect of BT is an expected transient increase in the frequency and worsening of respiratory-related symptoms. ENDO-551804-AA
As with any procedure, there are risks, and individual results may vary. The most common adverse event of BT is a temporary worsening of respiratory-related symptoms. These events typically occur within one day of the BT procedure and usually resolve within a week with standard care. There is a small risk (3.4% per procedure) that symptoms may require hospitalization.1
- Castro M, et al, for the AIR2 Trial Study Group. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010;181:116-124.