"One Puff of Albuterol Won't Work!"

I wrote earlier about my first (and last) visit to a pulmonologist. My beloved allergy and asthma doctor had passed away from cancer, and I still miss him! He literally kept my kids alive with their hard-to-treat allergies and asthma. My kids were hospitalized 12 times for asthma, and I would often call Allergy and Asthma Doc (as I like to refer to him) from my child's hospital room to ask about a treatment the pediatrician had ordered.

We had seen Allergy and Asthma Doc for 20 years, and he knew us as patients but also as people. He would ask Daughter how her last track meet went, and did it help her to pre-medicate with albuterol before she ran? He asked Middle Son how band class was going, and was his asthma controlled enough so he could play the French horn? He asked Oldest Son how allergy shots were going since he had anaphylaxis after one day's allergy shots.

Needless to say, we were worried about finding another doctor to replace Allergy and Asthma Doc.

Trying a new doctor

I didn't "click" with the doctor who took over Allergy and Asthma Doc's office, so a friend suggested I try a pulmonologist.

And that was also a fail. This pulmonologist wore strong cologne (which is a known asthma trigger). He was also pushy and aggressive and wouldn't listen to anything I said. I could tell that he was the type of doctor who was used to telling patients what to do and expecting them to do it without any question.

How many puffs of albuterol work for me?

I disagreed with him in many areas, including how much of my albuterol I use.

He asked what I used to treat an asthma attack. I told him that I use my albuterol inhaler if I have a minor asthma attack. But when I get sick, I need my nebulizer. He then asked how many puffs of albuterol I use. I told him one puff, but occasionally I will need two.

He immediately yelled at me and said "One puff of albuterol won't work! It does nothing!" I told him that it actually does work for me. Sometimes I need a second puff, but usually one will work. He told me, "That's impossible! One puff of albuterol won't do anything!"


Asthma is different for everyone

I know my body – I have had asthma for more than 20 years, and I know what works for me. My body is very sensitive to most medications, and I often need a child-size dose of medicine. I'm not kidding – especially when it comes to anesthesia.

I'm also a certified asthma educator (AE-C) and work full-time providing asthma education to people throughout the United States. I know the national asthma guidelines and general treatment recommendations. I also know that asthma is different for everyone. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. I know some people who need several puffs of albuterol. And for me, one puff will usually stop my symptoms.

At this point, was it even worth arguing with the pulmonologist? He clearly wasn't going to listen. I just wanted to get the visit over with so I could get away from him.

Staying in tune with my body

When I came home, I looked at my box of albuterol. And do you want to know what is printed on the label from my pharmacy? It says, "Take 1 puff of albuterol every 4 to 6 hours as needed." Well, well, well.

I guess Allergy and Asthma Doc is still watching over me from above. He taught me to be in tune with my body and use the medicine that works for me.

And that's what I am going to keep doing.

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