I’m Struggling to Breathe

leadcma.org

For about 12 years now I have had a continuing problem with shortness of breath. I am particularly effected by changes in weather, especially changes in the barometric pressure and humidity rather than certain allergens. I become short of breath when I exercise or whenever I am outside after the sun sets and even when I get upset. Before I begin having difficulty breathing my sinuses begin to drain and my post nasal drip increases dramatically. I can actually feel my nasal passages constrict and well as my airways. I have had post nasal drip 24/7 for about 12 years. Approximately 10 years ago I underwent sinus surgery which was excruciating and did absolutely nothing to alleviate any of my symptoms. Presently my sinus CT scans show no abnormalities and my lungs are clear. I have used every kind of inhaler that is on the market, but with no success.

All because I have to struggle to breathe.

I love the outdoors, especially the mountains and forests, but I can no longer walk through the woods and enjoy the scenery, because I have to struggle to breathe after only a few minutes being among the trees. I believe it’s the humidity in the woods since I have tested negative for tree allergens. I would love to ride a bicycle around my neighborhood and play catch with the kids next door, but I can’t. My days of playing tennis are over and running up and down the stairs are out of the question. All because I have to struggle to breathe and no one knows why.

…she pooh poohed my assertion…
 
 I have been to numerous doctors in Boston, Penang, Malaysia and Rochester, NY. Each of them have said I have asthma. I was referred to a cardiologist who “guaranteed” that my shortness of breath was due to anemia. He did a blood test which proved him wrong. I then underwent stress tests, ECG’s and echocardiograms that showed nothing abnormal . He surmised my shortness of breath was attributed to asthma. I’ve heard that before! I was referred to an allergist who tested me for a variety of allergens, all of which were negative. I tried to explain to her that the weather caused my breathing problems, but she pooh poohed my assertion, even as I had an attack as a sudden thunderstorm went through the area. After trying a variety of inhalers and steroids, which constantly made me dizzy, and scheduling a pulmonary function test, which showed asthma, she quit scheduling any more appointments. Her office said that they have no record of me ever being there! Needless to say I gave up on her, as she gave up on me!

He also told me not to expect that doctors know everything!
 
 I was then referred to an ENT specialist who was the most honest yet. After examining my sinuses and CT scans he admitted that there was nothing wrong with my sinuses and he had no idea what was causing my asthma. He also told me not to expect that doctors know everything! I was happy that he was honest with me and didn’t offer false hopes or wanted me to keep coming for appointments which would be both a waste of money and a waste of his and my time.

She evidently was absent the day “bedside manners” were taught…

Next I went to a pulmonologist, who was the most useless yet! I paid a $50 co-pay and $125 for the tech to take an inhaler out of the package to show me how to use it! As if I didn’t know anything after 12 years of inhaler use! She arrogantly told me I had asthma and her treatment was to suggest I continue using my inhalers! I refused to make another appointment with her as she had nothing to offer and appeared not to really care. She evidently was absent the day “bedside manners” were taught or she flunked that exam! It doesn’t take a specialist to tell me to continue to take my medications that doesn’t work!

…I realized that for the first time I was breathing easier.

From this sad excuse for a doctor I went to see an asthma specialist at a well known asthma and allergy clinic, which had an excellent reputation among medical professionals in my area. I was given a spirometry test followed by a nebulizer treatment and an oral medication. My consultation and treatment took over three hours and offered me some hope. The doctor appeared to be genuinely interested and assured me that he could help me breathe again, and if he didn’t he wouldn’t keep me coming to give me false expectations. When I left his office and drove home I realized that for the first time I was breathing easier. I hoped it would last.

He told me he was not satisfied with my progress…

I saw the asthma specialist twice, but I did speak with him on the phone numerous times. I had some relief with some of the medications he prescribed, while one of the drugs severely worsened my condition. It was interesting that one of the drugs he prescribed was one I had taken as a child for my severe asthma. It worked then so he wanted to see if it would work again and it did, even though it is very difficult to get as it is seldom used today. In my last telephone conversation with him I learned that he had referred me to another pulmonologist, who specialized in asthma/COPD patients who did not respond to treatment. He told me he was not satisfied with my progress and wanted me to see someone with more expertise. Next month the saga continues!

I’m sure whatever it will be it will be way too expensive and I won’t be able to afford it!

Every time I see another specialist I have to start from the beginning to explain my symptoms and how long I’ve had them and who I’ve seen. I feel like I should make a recording to play each time I see a new doctor! I can’t imagine what medication he will prescribe next, as I think I’ve tried every drug on the market. I’m sure whatever it will be it will be way too expensive and I won’t be able to afford it! In the meantime I am researching natural supplements, as to their effectiveness and affordability. I am not holding out too much hope for my next adventure with this specialist, but I am not quite ready to give up either. To be continued…