Nurse and Single Mom who loves Kayaking, Hiking, Photography, and Gardening
"Now I do what I choose to do and if it acts up, I use my medications and they work great. I can’t thank my doctors enough. I had a well-visit with my pulmonologist last year. It was a first because usually he saw me because of an attack. We celebrated that for sure!"
My Life Prior to BT:
I was diagnosed with severe asthma at about 12 years old. We tried so many asthma medications over the years including theophylline, steroids including prednisone and Medrol®, Advair®, albuterol, Xopenex®, immunoglobulins, and Xolair®, which I had an allergic reaction to. I had exacerbations at least once a week that required nebulizer treatments and used my rescue inhaler at least a few times a day. Even with all that medication, it was still not under real control. Starting at age 13, I was hospitalized for my severe asthma on and off. I was in the ICU several times and had to be put on bypass machines more than once.
Severe asthma had a huge impact on my life. Growing up I wasn’t able to do the normal things that kids do. Indoor swimming was out because chlorine aggravated it and I was even hospitalized once for an attack while we were on a family vacation. I missed a lot of school and social events. I pretty much missed my whole junior year of high school because my severe asthma was so bad.
As an adult, severe asthma continued to be a big challenge. I had issues sleeping and I often missed work. I even missed my best friend’s wedding because I was in the hospital with a bad attack. I was the maid of honor and it was just so awful not to be there with her on that day.
Severe asthma was a struggle on many fronts. As a single mom, it was tough because it limited what I could do with my kids and they always worried about me. There was also a real financial burden. In addition to the cost of medications, co-pays, hospital stays, and ER trips, missed work time meant less income. That’s a big deal for anyone, especially a single parent.
When I first heard about Bronchial Thermoplasty from my doctors, I listened carefully and then, as a nurse, I did some research on my own. I admit, leading up to the procedures, I was very nervous. I was so severe that the doctors prepared me to be in the ICU after the procedure. However, that didn’t happen. The procedures all went quite smoothly and I did not even stay overnight. For each of the three I was able to go home the same day. As expected, I did experience a worsening of symptoms, but it was just the first week after each procedure and I could control the symptoms at home.
My Life Today
How is my life different since BT? It doesn’t even resemble my life before! My severe asthma is so much better controlled, and I do things now without worrying about asthma. I’ve walked a 5K, I’ve been snorkeling, and I love hiking! I still have asthma, but if I have symptoms now like wheezing, they respond better to the medications now.
Even though the doctors told me it could take a while to see the benefit, I expected immediate results, but it was a slow progression. It took a while for me to learn to trust my lungs. I had to keep reminding myself to take deep breaths because it was something I never could do and I wasn’t used to it. Now looking back over three years, the difference is dramatic.
I’ve had no trips to the hospital for my severe asthma since BT. So I am not spending as much on asthma control either. Last year was the first year I didn’t use my entire FSA (health flexible savings account). Before BT I would have gone through it by September. Now I use my FSA for things like dental care. I even have sick days built up now!
I’ve discovered a love of travel that is not inhibited by my severe asthma. I’ve taken a cruise to the Bahamas, been to North Carolina and travelled locally to see family. And I never miss work and social engagements anymore due to my severe asthma.
I have two adult children and they’ve noticed the big differences with me since BT. I’m not laid up all the time. It shifts the family dynamics when your kids don’t have to worry about you so much. I’m not calling them to say “I am on my way to hospital. I’ll be in a few a days.” That’s not our normal anymore. Having my severe asthma under control means less stress for all of us.
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.