Retired horse trainer who loves her kittens and cycling
"My life is different now. It does not revolve around my severe asthma anymore!"
My Life Prior to BT:
I was diagnosed with severe asthma at 38. It was the same age that my mother was when she got it. She died from severe asthma at 42.
I had been working as a horse trainer when I first started showing signs of the disease. I thought it was just a cold from being outside all the time with the horses, but it never went away. I switched jobs and was driving a truck for a while and when that became too much, I tried retail. The shop I worked in was very musty and aggravated my breathing. Eventually I had to go on disability because of how severe my asthma had become.
Having severe asthma forced me to move. I was living in Corpus Christi, Texas but the smoke from the oil refiners was a big issue. My doctor said to me ‘if you want to live, you need to get out of here.’ That’s when I moved to St. Augustine, Florida but I continued to have issues especially in the winter months. We tried many medications over the years including Singulair™, Advair™, many inhalers, and nebulizers with albuterol and Xopenex™. I was using my nebulizer a few times a week and when I flared up, it would be 4-6 times a day.
My days were spent managing my severe asthma and trying to avoid my triggers, but there were many. Sulfites were a big trigger for me. Even one sip of wine would cause an attack. I had to avoid burning candles, bleach, and so many other things. Even a change in the barometric pressure would set my severe asthma off.
Severe asthma also limited my activity. Before asthma I was an athlete. I ran, taught karate, did personal training, rode horses, and cycled. I used to run the mountains in Santa Barbara, but as my breathing issues got worse and worse, I just couldn’t do it anymore.
I actually met my pulmonologist for the first time at the emergency room. He was on duty when I came in. I had been home sick for two days and I felt like I was dying. Well it turns out I was very ill. I managed to drive to the ER and pulled up to the main door. A doctor at first said ‘you can’t park here’ but then he took a look at me and said ‘just leave your car here and come with me.’ My oxygen went down to 17% and my organs were starting to shut down. I was put into a drug-induced coma and put on a respirator. The doctor said I was a severe, brittle, frail asthmatic. It was a scary time.
I first heard about BT from a magazine. I am in charge of the mail room at the local hospital. One doctor always left his New England Journal of Medicine copy in the mail room. I usually sent it up to the library, but for some reason one day I didn’t send it right up. I opened it up and the page I landed on was about BT. I am the type of person who believes we are guided from beyond and I truly believe my mom was guiding me that day to read that article. I knew right away this was something I wanted to try.
I was the first one in Northeast Florida to have this procedure.
My Life Today
The procedures went well except for feeling a bit foggy from the anesthesia.
For months afterward I wasn’t seeing any improvement from the procedure. I kept reminding myself that the doctors had told me it was not a quick fix and as time went by I would see a change. It was when the cold weather came that the difference in my asthma control became evident. I realized I was breezing through winter.
Now that I am two years out there are so many improvements in my asthma-related quality of life. BT has impacted my life in both big and small ways. I can swim on the bottom of a pool again. Even something as simple as being able to drink soda pop without gasping from the bubbles feels amazing.
The biggest change is in my ability to be more active now that my severe asthma is controlled. I was riding my bike before BT but it was a challenge. I was trying to do 12-15 miles a day, but on days where I had episodes I didn’t ride at all. Before BT, my severe asthma decided how long I could ride. Not anymore! Now I can ride 30+ miles if I feel like it.
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.