Regional Marine Mammal Response Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries Serviceand competitive canoe boat racer
"I still have severe asthma but it does not dictate whether I can race or not anymore. If your severe asthma is impacting your quality of life or keeping you from the things you want to do, you should talk to your doctor about this option! Having BT was one of the best decisions I’ve made."
My Life Prior to BT:
I’ve had asthma since birth. It was severe when I was a child, improved in my young adult years and then about 6-7 years ago began to really decline again. I have allergic asthma and that can be tough in Hawaii where vegetation is always blooming. Like many asthmatics in Hawaii, the VOG(volcanic gases and smoke) irritated my asthma as well.
Over the years I tried many of the medications. I used Pulmicort™ and albuteral nebulizer treatments at a pretty high frequency. I was also on Zyflo™ which required I have regular liver function tests because it can have a negative impact on the liver.I also had Xolair™ shots and tried many different inhalers.
Over the seven years when my severe asthma presented with acute symptoms I had to go to the hospital a couple of times. Even though I self-managed my severe asthma fairly well, it was still having a big impact on my quality of life. I missed work occasionally and had a lot of trouble sleeping. My asthma was the worst at night.
I am an avid canoe boat racer and race with the New Hope Church Oahu Hawaiian outrigger canoe club. During the distance season from August to October, we race 32+miles so I would have to pretreat with prednisone and use my inhaler along the course. Even with the medications I would still sometimes have to sit a race out because of my severe asthma.
When I first talked to the doctors about BT they were not sure I was severe enough so I let it go, but as time went on I knew I needed to try something other than medications. I saw a morning TV news segment on BT with a nurse from Kaiser talking about how they were covering BT and offering it at their hospital. I felt like it was a sign that I saw this. I knew it was time to move forward and get BT.
After 2 years of battling with my insurance company to approve bronchial thermoplasty with the support of three doctors and two advocacy firms to no avail, I finally switched over to Kaiser on Oahu and after a year wait, I underwent the three procedures in November and December of 2015 and January 2016.
My Life Today
The first two BT treatments went very smoothly for me.I was able to go home the same day.The third and last treatment was more challenging. I had an increase in phlegm build up and coughing. I did stay in the hospital for two days for observation.
It has now been over a year and I have been doing amazing. I have only been on prednisone for one 5-day burst when I caught the flu. This is a stark contrast to years prior where I would need prednisone bursts on a regular basis to treat severe asthma attacks.
My health and asthma-related quality of life have improved greatly. Recently I completed my 3rd crossing of the Kaiwi channel in an internationally recognized canoe race called the Molokai Hoe. Ninety-four canoes made the 42 mile jaunt. In my previous crossing I had issues with my severe asthma throughout the course and I would need to pre-dose on prednisone to avoid a spasm mid-channel. This year I had no issues and stayed in the canoe the maximum amount of time over the course of the 7 hour 40 minute journey.
I have an exciting and physically demanding job that involves oversight of the Pacific Islands Marine Mammal Response Network.My work can take me on the water in a small inflatable motorized response boat to disentangle a 40 ton humpback whale; or on a jet ski to recover a small whale;or to the beach with a team to restrain a 300 to 400 pound monk seal to remove a fish hook from its mouth. The rescues we do are not frequent but high intensity activities where I can't afford to have health issues. I truly feel that I would not have been able to maintain the ability to perform these tasks for years to come without having undergone this procedure.
I’m very grateful for empowering the doctors and nurses with the knowledge and skills to perform this procedure on me and others who need it, and to my friends and family for their prayers during my recovery!
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.