BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Friday, January 27, 2012

Burning My Lungs

So, as many of you know, I have severe chronic asthma. It pretty much runs my life, and in November it put me in the hospital (not for the first time). My specialist, who I've been with for about five years or so, is at his wit's end. When I got out of the hospital, he suggested an option that's pretty much a last ditch effort. There's a surgery, bronchial thermoplasty, designed specifically for people with severe chronic asthma who fail to respond other treatments. It involves burning away layers of smooth muscle in the lungs, hence the post title. Asthmatics have an excess of smooth muscles, which contributes to the lungs' sensitivity. Decreasing the smooth muscles makes the lungs less likely to react to triggers, resulting in fewer attacks and exacerbations. A year ago, I probably would have said no, but after that hospital stay, I'll try just about anything. He doesn't do the procedure so I had to see another specialist who does.

I had the appointment today and it went pretty well. She thinks I'm a pretty good candidate for the surgery EXCEPT... I have to be exacerbation free for 2 months. I laughed my head off. "So, we'll be scheduling this for sixty days after I'm dead?" The problem is I have to be healthy enough to have the surgery, and the surgery itself carries a risk of causing an exacerbation. Sigh. But all is not lost. She added medicines to my regimen, tweaked a couple, and gave me some homework to do. I go back in a month for some testing and a follow up and then we re-evaluate.

While I was in the exam room, waiting for the doctor, I looked around and spotted a model on the counter. I wish I had taken a picture of it, it was amazing. It was a 3D cross-section of a bronchiole (the part of the lung that's involved in asthma). It had four individual models of a bronchiole - a normal one, a mildly asthmatic one, a moderately asthmatic one, and a severely asthmatic one. Oh My God. Looking at it, and comparing the bronchioles, erased any remaining doubts I had about the surgery. The differences were dramatic, and scary. Since I didn't think to take a picture, I did a Google search and this was the closest that I found.

Ugly looking thing, isn't it? :( So, for the next month, I'll be doing my homework, trying to get myself to a point where I can have the surgery and maybe have a normal life. I'll post an update after that appointment.


  1. Oh, I hope it all works out! I only have mild asthma, but it's something that affects every day of my life and it's annoying. It sounds like it's much worse for you. Good luck!

  2. Thanks Shelley. I've got my fingers crossed.

  3. I certainly hope that you will be able to have the surgery and that it will lead to a much better health outcome. ((((((((HUGS))))))))

  4. Bea for the past 30 years have lived with an asthmatic husband. Lucky for us about 6 years or so ago his doctor finally found the medicine that keeps him out of the hospital, Advair twice a day.

    Unfortunately the one side effect is decreased immune system so at least twice a year he tries to come down with pneumonia, but the good outweighs the bad so far.

    I am truly praying for you that you can go through the surgery and come out with the results that will allow your life to become easier. Good luck with your next checkup and keep doing what the doctor tells you to no matter how hard it is to do so!

    Hugs and good thoughts for what you are facing in the coming months.

  5. Jackie, I use Advair too. It's one of 4, well 5 now, inhlaers that I use. I'm glad it's working for your husband.

    Thanks for the prayers, I need all I can get. :)

  6. Thank you for the update and information on the way asthma works. Hope it works out.

    Patti L.

  7. Yikes! I really hope you'll 'qualify' for the surgery and that it helps you - a lot! Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  8. I hope it all works out for you and that if you do have surgery, it improves your quality of life. It must be hard to be taken seriously by other people sometimes as most people think of asthma as a 'mild' disease.

  9. I know exactly how it feels to have your body betray you and illness take over your life. It sucks and it's frustrating and sometimes you break and want to scream and cry. But you're so strong for having gone through all this and you're still standing. I've been there, doing the experimental surgery that comes with as many risks as benefits. But so long as you go into this with eyes wide open and do some of your own research before making up your mind, then you'll be okay.

    Sending you all the strength and well wishes in the world, hun!


  10. Hi Bea,

    There's some hope then... We're all rooting for you and wishing you the clear two months you need.

    Show your tubes some lovin', and hopefully they'll love you back...

  11. Gee, I feel so lucky, I get by with 500/50 Advair and an emergency inhaler. I have a two month summer treat of being asthma free each year. I wish I could give you my two months.

    Good Luck with getting the surgery.


  12. Thanks everyone for your support and kind words.

    My asthma, when it first started, was very mild. It's gotten progressively worse. I have other health issues, but this is the worst one. Surgery is not my first choice but neither drugs nor environmental changes have been sufficient. There have definitely been times when I've broken down, screamed and cried. It's incredibly frustrating when I can't do something as mundane as take out the trash or toast bread.

    I am going to do my damnedest to make this happen. Thank you all, I'll be reading your comments when I get frustrated and feel like it's hopeless.


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