In Honor of Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month 2023

In honor of Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, I would like to share my personal journey with asthma for 22 years.

My personal journey with asthma

I was diagnosed when I was 10 years old and was prescribed a rescue inhaler to use when I get an asthma attack. I lived on breathing treatments for a while in grade school. When I got into middle school it was better to only use my rescue inhaler when I was in gym class. That is the only time I had an issue, and anything physical would trigger my asthma. Once I was in high school, I had no issues, unless it was physical activity, and other than that I was fine. I lived a normal life for a long time without any issues.

Recovering from respiratory infections

Once I got to my late 20s, I had multiple respiratory infections with bronchitis over the years. I started to have more issues when it came to my asthma. At the age of 30, it became to be more of a problem and went to multiple doctor’s visits with my primary care to try a few different options. We had no luck and had the most difficult time getting it under control after a horrible respiratory infection in 2020.

We had resorted to being referred to a pulmonologist. At first, no one believed I had asthma and I had to go through testing, which confirmed I had asthma. I tried a few more inhalers and found the right combo that did treat it. My asthma was stable and controlled for a year. I felt amazing I could finally breathe without any symptoms. It was a taste of what breathing was like without any issues. I realized breathing is a luxury and I am grateful for every day I could breathe without any issues. I finally knew what people felt daily with their breathing who do not have asthma. Greatest feeling!

COVID made my asthma much, much worse

Then things got complicated and got worse, like nothing I could imagine. I got COVID, and 3 weeks later I got large deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) of the whole left leg and multiple pulmonary embolism (blood clots). COVID and pulmonary embolisms made my asthma worse. I went on seeing my pulmonologist over the next 7 months changing treatment from multiple inhalers, multiple rounds of oral steroids, and biologics to which I did not respond well at all. It got to the point where I needed to find another pulmonologist who would listen and take my concerns into consideration. I found the most amazing pulmonologist who took my concerns into consideration and listened to me. We work together as a wonderful team, and we talk through the decision making. We work together to make the best treatment plan for the needs of my health and what my body needs.

Finding the right asthma treatment plan

We have worked so hard finding the right treatment plan, we went through multiple inhalers, allergy medications, biologics, and breathing treatments. Nothing seemed to lighten up the symptoms. I was requiring oral steroids every month, and consistently going into an asthma flare every 2 weeks. Once I came off oral steroids, and immediately went into another asthma flare every single time. At this point I was in a bad place with my asthma as I was living with asthma every day instead of every once in a while.

We tried everything we could to control my asthma and I was on everything possible to try to control my asthma. I was on Trelegy, Pulmicort twice a day, Albuterol every 4 hours, Singulair, Zyrtec, and Xolair. There were biologics I could not qualify for because my inflammation markers were not elevated by eosinophils, but IgE were elevated which Xolair didn’t help relieve the symptoms. We had to make a difficult decision we both never wanted to make. I would be put on chronic steroids either a trial longer-term steroid experience or chronic steroids than reassess later.

My pulmonologist told me, "I know it is a miserable decision, and I did not want to make it. I do not want to see you miserable or keep being miserable further on. This isn’t good for your lungs to be up and down and up and down." She told me I have chronic inflammation. We decided trial longer-term steroid experience. She has been positive and optimistic; we can get this asthma under control. In 6 months, this is what my body needs. This way I can heal the chronic inflammation and give your lungs a break. It will help you be stable for 6 months. At least we catch it now and act on it to avoid being in the hospital.

Finding asthma treatment is exhausting

It has been very exhausting not being able to breathe daily. Mentally it takes a toll on you. You have multiple doctor appointments that seem like it never ends. Will you ever get to a good spot again with good health? Always seems like everything does not go as we plan. Asthma taught me to be grateful for every day you feel good, and each breath is a gift. It is important to have a great support system and I have a good support system. My faith in God has helped me get through these hard phases of life and I know, he will heal me. The only ultimate healer!

Finally finding asthma treatment and control

I am happy to report; My asthma is controlled and stable. Prednisone is doing the trick and helping with the inflammation. I am down to albuterol once a day with Prednisone, Trelegy, Singulair, and Zyrtec. The treatment plan is working well, and I am symptom-free. I am hopeful I will be able to get off prednisone in 6 months and slowly taper off it. Great feeling to be able to breathe again after a long 5 months not being able to. So grateful!

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