Nurse, Mom, and Grandma
"I am happy to share my story because I want more people to know that this treatment is available for many patients. I want to encourage insurance companies to cover BT for the right patients because it will save everyone money with less ER trips and hospitalizations."
My Life Prior to BT:
I developed asthma about 23 years ago. I had some episodes of wheezing and it just became progressively more severe over time. The past three years were the worst. I struggled to breathe for all of 2015.
Over the years as my asthma became more severe, we tried so many medications like Advair™, FloVent™, Combivent™, Zopenex™, Foradil™. I’ve been carried into the ER more than once and they would always consider intubating me. In the years leading up to my BT, I was using my nebulizer three to four times a day and my rescue inhaler around the clock!
I kept pushing myself to get through the days at work, but it was difficult. I often lost my voice and this was a very big concern at work. Even taking phone calls, I had to raise my voice and it would exhaust me just to get through a call. In October of 2015 I had a very bad attack at work. I had to have a nebulizer treatment, and at that point I knew I should not be working anymore.
I could only tolerate minimal activity. I couldn’t walk past 10-15 steps before being out of breath. I did some respiratory rehabilitation to try and get better at walking and breathing at the same time. There were times I would be driving and I would have to pull over on the side of the road to catch my breath. It got to the point where I always had to have someone with me. It was just too dangerous for me to be alone.
I had first heard about BT in 2009. At that point I was hesitant because the outcomes from the clinical trials had not come out yet, so I was not sure how well this would work. As time went on my severe asthma became worse and there was positive data being published about BT’s success. By last year I was very anxious to have this done.
Once I made the decision to have BT I still had to wait for insurance to get on board. They did not approve it right away and said it was experimental, so therefore they would not cover it. My doctor’s office had to send all my records to show how bad and uncontrolled my severe asthma was and prove to the insurance that I needed this treatment badly. I believe it took about three rounds of appeals, but I was finally approved.
My Life Today
The procedures went pretty well for me. My doctor did keep me for observation for one night. After the third treatment I did develop an infection that was treated and resolved with antibiotics. Overall, I feel like having this treatment was a great decision for me.
It’s been almost a year and I am feeling amazing. Before BT, I would need prednisone bursts for severe exacerbations two or more times a season. It really messed with my life. My severe asthma made me angry and restless. Now I am back in school, studying to be a nurse practitioner.
That last year before BT, I felt like I was on my last year of life. Now I am back to not having my severe asthma impact my life so deeply. I am working again and I have even tried a bit of gardening. This past summer I had a garden for the first time and was able to do yard work without worrying about my severe asthma. It felt amazing!
I don’t wheeze anymore. For the first time in decades, I don’t have difficulty in taking a deep breath!
The best part is being able to do more with my grandchildren. I actually played soccer in the backyard with my grandson! I took the kids to the parks. It is hard to put into words the exhilaration I feel.
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.