Interview With a Respiratory Therapist

I was at a family party recently and was talking to a family member who is a respiratory therapist. I wondered what he sees at the hospital on a regular basis? I asked him, “What is the biggest problem you see with people with asthma? And what do you wish people knew?”

He was happy to have a chance to vent!

This is what he said:

Don’t buy cigarettes! Buy your Advair or Dulera instead!

He gets frustrated that people don’t use their controller inhalers. Those are the inhalers that you take every day, which are important because they keep the swelling down in your lungs. He said if you stay on your controller inhaler, you may not need to go to the ER!

Don’t run out of your inhaler!
I’m guilty of forgetting to actually LOOK at the counter on my controller inhaler…. and not noticing it was on zero (insert sheepish grin here). I’ve actually done that twice (insert sheepish grin and facepalm here).

Don’t smoke
No problem there! I have 2 family members who smoke and have asthma, and they have tried to quit multiple times. In fact, they wished they had never picked up that first cigarette.

Don’t go to ER, smoke a pack of cigarettes have to come right back

This one is self-explanatory.

Take your inhaler correctly

He has many people who say, “You’re wrong! I’ve been taking my inhaler this way for years.” He would then say, “Well, it’s still wrong, no matter how many years you’ve been taking it that way!” He would then tell them, “If you like spending money and only getting half the medicine, don’t listen when I try to correct your technique.”

He said it’s tough for him because people get really defensive (don’t tell me what to do!) He would tell them, “I’m just here to help you get the most out of your medicine.”

No one has ever told me that before!

He said he finds that hard to believe. But, I have to side with the patients on this one. As a mom to 3 adult children with asthma (they inherited from me), I can remember countless trips to the emergency room when they were little. And it’s a blur.

There are nurses, CNA’s, respiratory therapist and doctors coming in and out of the room. And they are all trying to talk to you and tell you things – and your head is swimming! I know I missed a lot of what people were saying in the ER, because it’s 3 am, you’re panicked because your child is struggling to breathe, you haven’t slept, you are starting a migraine from the stress and are worried about the two other kids back home (who are also sick.) Concentrate on what people are telling me in the ER? Hey, I tried, I really tried.

Parents of small children want to listen

He said that when he works with parents of small children, they really WANT to know what they are doing wrong, and how they can their child. They don’t want to go back to the hospital, and they are ready to listen.

For you respiratory therapist out there, what else do you want to add? What do you wish people to knew?

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