Debra

 

Age: 61

Hometown: The Woodlands, TX

BT Doctor: Dr. Lisa Kopas, Pulmonologist

Referring Doctor: Dr. Wael Asi, Pulmonologist

Insurance: United Healthcare

BT Procedure Date: Spring 2014

Debra

IT Professional who loves animals and enjoys walking, dancing, painting artwork, and rock concerts!

"Asthma no longer consumes my life! I love walking, dancing and LIFE again! Don’t get me wrong, I still have asthma and some restrictions. I know I’m not going to run in a marathon but I don’t want to anyway. I am just so grateful that every day I can live my life the way I want to. On my terms…not asthma’s!"

My Life Prior to BT:

I was about 21 years old when I was first diagnosed with asthma and it grew worse over time. I used to live in South Carolina and though I had asthma, it would only flare up about four times a year and otherwise be manageable. However about 12 years ago, we moved to The Woodlands, TX and my asthma just grew into a bear! It got to the point that I couldn’t walk across the house without my inhaler in my hand. I would wheeze constantly. I carried my inhaler and my portable battery operated nebulizer in my purse and a full size nebulizer in the trunk of my car. I was surrounded by ways to keep my asthma under control. I never knew when I would have a severe attack and I lived in fear of it every minute of the day.

One time, I was at a family reunion cookout. I had a white car and the car appeared to have turned yellow from all the pollen on the car. I joked about eating the pollen potato salad. Well, the next day my asthma got really bad. I missed a few days of work and then called the doctor who called in an antibiotic. By the fourth day I couldn’t even talk when my co-worker called to check on me. She told me to meet her at urgent care right away. I remember sweating so much. I think my body was working so hard to try and get some oxygen into it. They immediately put me in an ambulance and took me to the hospital where I ended up staying for seven days.

Asthma management was my life. I used my nebulizer 2-3 times a day and my inhaler 10-15 times a day. I would often have to take steroid bursts for my attacks. It was a constant battle. I would get sick and then I would go on a lot of prednisone for a while. Then I would taper off but the asthma would come back with a vengeance. When I had to take steroids, I suffered with the side effects. I would want to eat everything in front of me, my legs would swell and I would gain weight. 

Asthma ruled my life! That’s how I would describe my asthma before BT. I would push through and go to work, but managing my asthma was always on my mind. It was exhausting. I was tired all the time. My husband and I would just stay at home because it was too difficult to get out and try and do anything. 

My long-time pulmonologist, Dr. Asi, first talked to me about bronchial thermoplasty. After some research on the procedure(s) I didn’t hesitate to “go for it”. I trusted him and we had tried everything else to get my asthma under control and I still was struggling with it so I felt like “why not, what have I got to lose?” 

Initially my insurance denied it but Dr. Kopas’ office fought back and forth with the insurance company for about six to eight months and then it was finally approved. Dr. Kopas was very diligent and cautious. She wanted me to be as healthy as I could be for the procedures. She did a lung scope to make sure all looked good. I was treated for some lung infections and then shortly after that I had the three BT procedures.

My Life Today:

The procedures went very smoothly for me. For all three, I went home the same day.

I remember after I finished the treatments I was talking to my cousin on the phone and I had such a strange feeling come over me. It took me a minute to realize the strange feeling was air! I was used to just wheezing and never really getting enough air in. I had forgotten what a big breath of oxygen felt like!

It’s been over 2 years now and the biggest difference is that asthma doesn’t control my life anymore! I don’t think about my asthma anymore. Before BT, it was the #1 thing on my brain at all times. Before BT, the asthma said what I could do and what I couldn’t do. I don’t think about restrictions anymore. I used to think “you can’t do that” and now it’s “I can do this.” 

Now I love going out. My mindset is like I’m in my thirties! We go to a lot of concerts. I won a pack of tickets to six concerts and I won’t miss one of them because of my asthma!

I have also started taking dance lessons. I feel like I am alive again after all these years!

My husband has noticed a huge difference too. I’m the mechanic in the house. I fix anything that breaks; the garage door, lighting fixtures, my car, you name it! We’ve also been able to travel. We took a dream cruise to Alaska and did all these great excursions. I don’t believe I would have been able to do that before BT. 

The best example I can give you is that before BT I couldn’t walk across the room without being winded. Well after BT my company did a Fitbit contest. At first I wasn’t going to do it, but then my manager convinced me to join. I work with all these young men and women in their 30s and 40s and I didn’t think I was going to walk more steps than them but thought it would be a good motivational challenge for me none the less. Every day after I got home from work, I would do some aerobic dancing. I had three rock concerts that I had taped and I would play them and do some aerobic dancing for about two hours every night after work. My favorite bands were REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Def Leppard. Then on the weekends I would walk outside when the weather was nice. I kept hitting my small goals and then I would set an even higher goal. I even had a day where I did 50,000 steps! After a few weeks in I started noticing I was getting closer to the top list of the list for most steps in this contest. My competitive side kicked in and I decided I was not going to let those younger participants in this contest win just because of our age difference. Well guess what, I won the contest! I had over 1 million steps in one month. The closest person to me was 750K and he was in his 30s. There was NO WAY I would have been able to do this before BT.

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

Reference

  1. Castro M, et al, for the AIR2 Trial Study Group. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010;181:116-124.
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