For some people with severe asthma, medicines may not be enough to help keep their asthma under control. A procedure called bronchial thermoplasty may offer relief, reducing asthma episodes or attacks in people with severe asthma.
Lexi Larabee, who has severe asthma, had bronchial thermoplasty one year ago and shared her experience with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Below, Lexi tells us what her life has been like after the procedure.
How did the time fly by so fast? I am officially one year out from my third and final bronchial thermoplasty (BT) procedure!
My Life Before Bronchial Thermoplasty
I have been hospitalized because of asthma countless times growing up. My whole life I have been on prednisone (an oral corticosteriod). Whether it was 5 mg or 50 mg, I have never really been able to go without it. As I have gotten older, my asthma has for sure gotten worse and more attacks were happening more frequently. Every time I would taper down to at least 20 mg, I would be right back in the emergency room getting a higher dose. It seemed like a never ending process! I was on life support once and the BiPAP once. I missed so much school and work, I didn't think I was ever going to hold a job! I would struggle just walking out to get the mail daily. That was considered my “workout for the day.” On a good day, my peak flow readings were 150-200. I felt good about that, too!
My Life One Year After Bronchial Thermoplasty
My official final dose of prednisone was on May 8, 2019, which was only six months out from my final BT procedure. I never thought this day would come. I have waited so long, but the whole wait was so worth it! After getting off prednisone, I started power walking daily. My goal was to run a 5k color run in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in July 2019. I didn't let that goal go. I WAS DETERMINED!
After power walking for awhile, I thought I would give jogging a try. It was so hard, but I powered through as much as I could. I didn't want to push myself but I kept talking myself through the struggles and doing my breathing techniques. I was able to jog around the block with no quick-relief inhaler (Trust me, it was on my side) but I didn't use it one time!
Tackling My Goals
On July 27, 2019, the color run day was here! I was registered and ready to give this dream a shot! I was so nervous thinking, "What if I can't do this? What if I get to the point where I can't breathe?" All those thoughts were going through my head, which was probably normal after all I've been through in the past.
I did the color run and COMPLETED it! I did 3.1 miles in 45 minutes steady. That was something I always thought about doing but just knew it would never happen. I mean, how could it? I couldn't even walk to the mailbox before! The feeling when I crossed over that finish line was so overwhelming. It was a feeling I never thought I would experience. That moment, I knew my life was just beginning!
My Life Now
I am now teaching for Muskegon Public Schools, and asthma isn't ruling my life! I have not missed work due to asthma since BT. Before BT, I was missing work at least a few times per month. I couldn't live my life to the fullest without limitations. I now don't have that problem. I am able to keep up with everyone in life, and I am able to do a lot more than I ever have been able to. Normally, the season changes in Michigan would take a toll on me. I have been through the change from spring to summer, to fall and going onto winter here soon without emergency room visits or prednisone. It has been such an amazing feeling.
I had my first PFT (pulmonary function test), and my lung function has gone up tremendously! My pulmonologist is so happy with how things are going, and I am too! I am now down to just my DULERA® (long-term control medicine) twice daily. I have been able to get rid of my prednisone and QVAR®. And I only need nebulizer treatments here and there instead of every day! I consider myself so lucky and so blessed!