The Doctor That Saved Me

I developed asthma in my sixties. I’m not sure when, because I think several bouts of bronchitis were actually cough variant asthma. The first one took me to an Urgent Care, where they prescribed a rescue inhaler. I think they thought I was a lapsed asthmatic, but I’d never seen one before and had no idea what to do with it!

Measuring my peak flow

Eventually I started wheezing. I got a peak flow measured and when it suddenly plummeted along with distressed breathing. I went to the Urgent Care I’d just passed. They gave me two DuoNeb treatments, and my peak flow had risen from 300 to 500! After I got home it kicked up to 560.

Such a high peak expiratory flow (PEF) in a woman my age made it very hard to be taken seriously. The FIFTH allergist I went to actually listened to my history of long distance swimming and operatic training and understood what that could do to my lung capacity.

Finding asthma treatment substitutions

After 3 years of methodically testing meds and combinations of meds she hit on Tudorza. It’s very like one of the ingredients in Trelegy. It probably saved my life. I actually went to the ER one night to find that I had an acute kidney injury as well as yet another severe asthma attack.

I was lucky; my kidney function returned to normal but the problem was undoubtedly triggered by the strain asthma and all its meds were putting on my body.

A new normal with asthma

I’m not completely out of the woods. I wheeze every day, often two or more episodes. That’s as good as it’s going to get, so at 78 I’m watched closely. I suddenly woke up gasping for air and nearly unable to speak. I was at my daughter’s, and she had to call 911 because I couldn’t talk. But it ended quickly, and I credit the LAMA in Trelegy.

Along the way we discovered that I can only use name brand Ventolin, as all other rescue inhalers contain Methylin, something that aggravates my asthma.

The moral of the story? Even if you’re satisfied with your meds it’s not wholly awful to try substitutions.

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