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Adult-Onset Diagnosis

Sorry for the long post, needing to vent... Hi, I am new to this site and so glad I found it. I am a 44 year old woman with young sons. Just prior to turning 43, in November, 2015, I had a cough/cold/congestion viral upper respiratory infection type thing that lasted about two weeks. Everything cleared up except for the wheezing, chest tightness, and overall uncomfortable breathing. I suffered for about a month before seeing my PCP. After about 2 minutes of me describing what happened, she said "you have asthma". Followed by, "adult onset asthma can be particularly difficult to control." Yay me. Immediately got a rescue inhaler, started low-dose combination LABA/ICS, and a short course of oral steroids. After a month or so, it was a little better but still not great. So increased doses of the LABA/ICS and added a leukotriene inhibitor, plus daily Claritin and Flonase. From zero drugs to 5 in less than 3 months. Well that did the trick and I would describe my asthma as very well controlled for a good long while. Trials of reducing meds were not successful, so just stick with what works. Fast-forward to March 26, 2017, and BAM! I work in a small office and a coworker brought in some beautiful, fresh-picked lilacs. Within an hour I was in pretty bad shape. Never noticed any issues around flowers before. Problem is, the six or so weeks since then have been one long flare-up. Have a few good days, then lots of bad ones. Two courses of oral steroids, a long-acting anticholinergic used for COPD patients, and an Atrovent inhaler also for COPD, in addition to all my other meds. And I need to use a nebulizer at times when inhalers are just not working. I am missing work days, missing out on quality time with my boys, numerous conversations with my doctor, and I finally gave in today and sought help at an urgent care because I was just completely exhausted. There have been multiple times over the past few weeks where, in retrospect, I know I should have sought urgent/ER help, but I was too stubborn. Thankfully, things didn't turn out far worse. I have been a registered nurse / paramedic for 20 years, the first 17 of them were in the ER, helicopters, and ambulances. I know the difference in an asthmatic who is "fixing to die" and one who is in bad shape but not "fixing to die." But that emergency career was before I, personally had experienced asthma. So my big challenge now looks like this: I feel awful, all the tools in my asthma toolbox are not really working that well. But, I am not "fixing to die", so I must be okay and need to just wait it out. Then come sleepless nights, agitated cranky mood, exhaustion, frustration, and bleak thoughts like "I'm never going to feel normal again." I finally got a referral to a pulmonologist and am waiting for the appointment. I sincerely hope he or she can help me figure this out. But for now, ASTHMA JUST SUCKS. Thank you for reading my rambling, venting, pitiful story. This has expanded my compassion for my patients in a big way.

  1. Hi TerriOKC and welcome! We're so glad you found us and appreciate your candid presentation of the history and current status of your asthmatic condition. It's good, too, that at this point, you've reached out to a specialist - we can be optimistic that with a thorough and complete history, examination, and perhaps a few diagnostic tests, you will finally have a proper diagnosis followed by a comprehensive and successful treatment plan from your new pulmonologist.

    You may find it helpful to check us out on Facebook too: It is an extremely interactive site where many of our community members go to share experiences, anecdotes, scientific material or just for a supportive ear.

    Please feel free to access our sites as often and for as long as you like. And please check back with us and let us know how you're doing.
    Hope that you had a good Mother's Day!
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

    1. Dear Terri,

      Your story sounds so familiar to me - thanks for sharing it. I have been pretty much in the same position you are in for the last 18 months, and I couldn't agree more that asthma really sucks. The only thing that really helps keep my symptoms under control are oral steroids (in addition to the ICS and long acting bronchial dilators) and what has helped me reduce my need for rescue inhalers is the Buteyko method. I really hope you find some answers. I am waiting to see a specialist about monoclonal antibody therapy.

      Take care, Britta

      1. HI acusailor and thanks for sharing your own personal asthma experiences here with our online community. It's good to hear you're pursuing further evaluation by seeing a specialist and we wish you luck. Please check back with us and let us know how you're doing.
        All the best,
        Leon (site moderator)

        1. Good luck to you Britta! I hope the specialist can get you some answers.
          Best regards,

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