Family Physician and Proud Grandpa who enjoys the outdoors and long motorcycle rides
"I still have severe asthma but I would say I went from struggling 95% of the time to maybe only 5% of the time now."
My Life Prior to BT:
I was diagnosed with severe asthma as a small child. It was always severe. I saw several doctors as a child who tried different medications like liquid theophylline. That was some awful tasting stuff!
Growing up my asthma frequently held me back. My family spent a lot of time at the lake vacationing. It was always a good time there, except when my asthma flared up. Then I could go down to water but I’d have to wait there and catch my breath before I could attempt to walk back. It wasn’t even that far, maybe 30 feet, but when my asthma was flared up that’s all it took to wipe me out. Growing up, almost every time we went camping at the lake I would end up in the ER or at the doctors because of my severe asthma.
When I wasn’t flared up I could play ball and do the regular kid stuff. That was my pattern with asthma. I was either perfect or terrible. As a child I would say 50% of the time I was in severe flare up mode. As an adult is was about 70% of the time. The last 10 years have been by far the worst. I was basically always wheezing and coughing and my asthma was never well controlled.
Over the years I tried many of the medications including theophylline, many inhalers, and albuterol nebulizers which always made me very jittery. I tried Xoliar™, Combivent™, and more recently Advair™, Symbicort™, and Singulair™. Even with all those medications, I still required a lot of prednisone. And even with the steroids, my asthma was never well controlled.
As an adult I did not go to the hospital much for my severe asthma. As a physician, I was able to self-manage pretty well. I knew when it was getting bad and I’d call the doctor to start treatment right away. Even though I wasn’t going to the hospital often, asthma impacted my quality of life. I’d have to sleep propped up and I couldn’t exercise if I was flared up. As time goes on you build up a tolerance for your severe asthma and sometimes you even think you are okay, but you are not. It ends up impacting your life in every way.
I first heard about BT at an open forum where pulmonologists were speaking about this being done in a study. I was interested right away but it took several years to happen. Once it was available locally and I decided to get BT done, it took a year and a half to get it approved by my insurance. I was denied several times.
My Life Today
The procedures went well for me. I was able to go home the same day. I felt great the first night but then the following few days I had some increased phlegm and coughing. That was to be expected though.
Once the treatments were done, it took a while before I started to realize I was feeling better. We went on a long motorcycle trip and drove high up into the mountains. We went to the top of Pike’s Peak where the air is quite thinner and I had no trouble breathing. It was an amazing feeling to be up there and breathing just fine. I can work with the hay and horses now and I’ll just need one breathing treatment and be fine. The difference in my asthma control is dramatic.
It’s been over a year now and I am feeling great. I am working full time again and I have been able to be more active with my church, including helping out others by mowing the lawn and doing other things that require physical activity. It seems like a simple thing but before BT I was not able to physically contribute because it would have likely caused a bad attack. So I can say that having my severe asthma controlled not only helps me live a better life, but also allows me to feel that I am healthy enough to give back to my community and help others live a better life in ways that I could not have when my severe asthma was so limiting.
I am a big believer in BT. As a physician, I had a patient and a good friend who was one of the worst severe asthmatics I’ve seen and I recommended that he talk to his pulmonologist about whether BT was right for him. It has been a great success for him as well. Before BT I would see him several times a month for his severe asthma. Now he only has to come in for a checkup!
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.