My Latest Pulmonary Function Tests
Last updated: August 2023
The last visit I had with my pulmonologist, aka The Good Doctor, he ordered pulmonary function tests, or PFTs. If you have asthma, you have probably done them before. They are not the most fun, but it does not last long and the information gleaned can be pretty significant.
Pulmonary function tests have always been confusing for me. I have a genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or EDS for short, which makes all of my body tissue very stretchy. My lungs are no exception. So when I do PFTs, my lungs usually look superb. Not because I do not have severe asthma, but because my stretchy lungs play tricks and make it look like they are able to handle an adequate, or overabundant volume of air. I have gotten the, “Are you sure you have asthma” death stare more than once. (Yes! I really do have asthma!)
Why my doctor ordered pulmonary function testing
I met with The Good Doctor immediately after my PFTs to go over the results. I figured he just ordered them out of routine, but it turns out he was looking for something specific. Because my asthma can get so bad, there is a concern for something called "remodeling." I am not sure exactly how it happens, but it is essentially scar tissue in the lungs that forms as the result of chronic respiratory infections. The problem is that remodeling can cause the lungs to not work as well.
It has been 3 years since I had pulmonary function tests and my doctor was concerned that there might be some remodeling as a result of so many asthma attacks over the last few years. Fortunately, the lung function tests showed that I do not have any permanent damage, which is great news because I have definitely had some doozy asthma attacks.
Considering something other than asthma
After my doctor told me that everything looked good, I commented, "I bet the pulmonary embolism did more damage than any asthma has caused." (If you have not read about the time it wasn’t my asthma, be sure to check that out if you are curious.)
After such an extensive and severe pulmonary embolism (PE) I was almost certain that there would be some damage. How could there not be?
But there is not! My lungs have 100% recovered from the massive pulmonary embolism I had 7 years ago. A long-term result of a pulmonary embolism is an impairment in the ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide through the lungs. But not me! My lungs show absolutely zero damage from my PE. That just seems crazy to me.
This pulmonary function testing validates my treatment plan
My lungs have been through a lot between my asthma and 2 pulmonary embolisms. There are days I wonder how I have survived this long with how bad my lungs can get. But I am so thankful that in spite of everything, my lungs seem to be in great working condition.
My asthma is wonderfully controlled right now and there is not any evidence on my pulmonary function tests that I even have asthma right now. As burdensome as multiple medications can get, it is so reassuring to know that it is all worth it. All the antibiotics, steroids, and breathing treatments are doing what they are supposed to.
When is the last time you had pulmonary function tests? Let me know in the comments!
How often do you experience a shortage in your asthma medication?