Theresa

 

Age: 36

Hometown: San Diego, CA

BT Doctor: Dr. Kaveh Bagheri

Referring Doctor: N/A

Insurance: Anthem Blue Cross HMO, CA

BT Procedure Date: Summer 2015

Theresa

Mom of three and respiratory therapist who loves playing music and scrapbooking!

"I am so thankful for BT. In many ways it gave me my life back. I can really be there for my family, my coworkers, and my friends."

My Life Prior to BT:

I was diagnosed with mild asthma when I was about 8 years old, but as an adult it really became progressively worse and more severe. I started to need my rescue inhaler all the time, and my doctor kept adding on more and more of the controller medications. The last three years had been the toughest. I'm a respiratory therapist myself but I didn’t fully realize how severe I had become. 

Just walking up a small incline or talking too much would cause me to have shortness of breath. When an attack started to come on I would know because my chest would feel very tight, like I was wearing a corset. There is definitely an element of panic when an attack comes on because you feel like you're under water, like you're at the bottom of the deep end of a swimming pool and you can't get out. Asthma attacks are very unpredictable, and I would never know if it was going to pass or if I was going to end up in the hospital. 

Ironically, one of the worst attacks I ever had was while I was working as medical staff at a camp for kids with asthma. I had been there as a camper when I was a kid, and working there each summer is one of my favorite things to do. This particular attack came on so quickly and was so severe that they had to call the paramedics and I was taken off the mountain in an ambulance. My husband got the call to meet the ambulance at the hospital. It was very scary for both of us!

Severe asthma impacts not just the patient but the whole family. There is the fear of the attacks, but also the financial strain of paying for all those medications and hospital visits. I had seven medication co-pays, hospital co-pays, and I wasn’t able to work as much as I wanted to. 

Severe asthma really impacted my life in every way. I had less energy to do things. It became tougher to play my guitar and sing. I couldn’t even run around with my kids. Something that simple, but something I wanted to be able to do so badly. As a respiratory therapist I work with patients with asthma all the time. There were times when I'd be in the intensive care unit and see a young asthmatic patient on a ventilator. I have actually hidden in the supply closet and cried my eyes out because I was seeing what could be me at any time.

I was on 5-6 bursts of prednisone a year along with many other medications, nebulizers, and inhalers but when I first heard about BT, I was sure I would not qualify. Even though I am a respiratory therapist, I didn’t realize how severe I was. It was a big wakeup call when my doctor suggested BT and told me I was very severe and we had run out of options with the medications.

Once I admitted how bad I really was, I knew BT was for me. When I first told my family about BT they were nervous, but I explained that it’s not a surgery. There is no cutting and most patients go home the same day. It’s a simple procedure done through a bronchoscope which I assist with all the time as a respiratory therapist. 

Thankfully my BT was approved on the first shot in four days, so big shout out to Anthem Blue Cross insurance!

My Life Today:

The three procedures went well for me. During the actual procedure I felt nothing. I just took a nice nap from the anesthesia. After the first and third treatments I did have some pretty flared up asthma symptoms in the days that followed, but that was expected. I just had to take it easy and get extra rest. 

It takes time to heal from BT and for the benefits to become obvious. I first started to notice simple changes in day to day things. I was able to clean the house and take the kids to the park without struggling to breathe. Even my husband noticed. I remember him saying, "Who are you? And where have you been all of our years of marriage?” When you are not struggling to breathe it’s much easier to get things done!

Life after BT has been amazing. BT is not a cure. I still have severe asthma and take maintenance medications, but I’m doing things I never thought I'd be able to do. Most are just things that a normal person in their 30s can do with ease, but before BT these things were so hard for me. 

I can play my guitar and sing a full set at church and not be out of breath at the end. Without being limited by severe asthma anymore, I recently ran a 5K and I'm able to really chase after my kids in the park which is something I don't think they ever saw me do before BT. My husband and I have also purchased an old Freemason building that we are renovating and plan to open a small business. Now that my severe asthma is controlled, I can live my life on my terms!

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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