Last year, Jane Denny, 66 of Conover became one of the first patients in
the region to have an innovative new treatment for asthma called
Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT). “This procedure gave me my life back,” says Jane. “I
only wish I could have had it sooner.”
Jane’s Life Prior to BT – “I’ve been in the hospital many times with chronic asthma,”
says Jane. “I developed it as a very young child, but it became
really severe when I was 26. One hospitalization lasted over three weeks.”
Prior to BT, there were times when Jane’s lips and fingertips turned
blue. She had to quit her job at the Burke County Dept of Social Services
as she was repeatedly being admitted to the hospital or making trips to
the emergency room — at least once every month. When her children
were young, they worried she was going to die.
She says, “I didn’t want to quit my job. It was very difficult
– I had a poor quality of life with no energy and my asthma grew
more and more severe. I depended on inhalers and medications. I had four
sinus surgeries trying to help. Nothing really worked.”
Doctors treated Jane’s asthma with inhalers and steroids, which made
her gain weight – 25 pounds in one month. She was hesitant to go
anywhere socially because having an attack left her breathless. She felt
like she was suffocating or having to breathe through a narrow straw.
When sleeping, she had to prop herself up on pillows. She explains that
a lot of people don’t understand asthma because she didn’t
look sick. Today, her voice is raspy because of damaged vocal chords,
a side effect of using inhalers for so many years.
Until BT, all asthma treatments had very limited success.
Jane’s Life Today – During yet another hospital visit in 2015, Jane saw a sign promoting
BT and she quickly looked into it, making an appointment with Pulmonologist
Dr. William Erwin at
Catawba Valley Pulmonology. He confirmed she was a candidate. “I really like Dr. Erwin’s
demeanor, he is very easy to talk to, fully explained the procedure and
made me feel completely confident.”
Dr. Erwin says that Bronchial Thermoplasty is a safe and effective outpatient
procedure that provides a long-lasting reduction in severe asthma attacks
for adults like Jane who suffer with asthma that is not well controlled
with maintenance medications.
Now that Jane’s asthma is more manageable, she’s finally out
of the cycle she was in for most of her life: getting steroids –
infections – antibiotics, and depending on inhalers. Even the staff
at Catawba Valley Pulmonology is amazed at the difference BT made in the
quality of Jane’s life.
“I could tell a big difference almost immediately,” reports
Jane. “Now, when I lay down flat on a pillow, I can breathe. Plus
I’m using a nebulizer and oxygen much less. Before BT, I would not
leave my house without a rescue inhaler. Now I am traveling and enjoying
life. I have more stamina and confidence. I go on walks at the Conover
Y and I’ve joined
CVMC’s Fitness Plus. For me, BT has helped make me the happiest I’ve ever been.”
How BT Works – BT reduces the amount of excess smooth muscle tissue in the airways. Thus
in response to an asthma trigger, there is less constriction or narrowing
of the airways, so breathing is easier, and there is less likelihood of
a severe asthma attack. This is different from asthma medicines that work
by opening up the airways by reducing swelling or causing the muscle in
the airway wall to relax; although these medicines don’t always
work well in people who have severe asthma.
To find out if you are a candidate for
Bronchial Thermoplasty, call
Catawba Valley Pulmonology at 828.326.2660. The practice is located at 3521 Graystone Place, SE across
from Catawba Valley Medical Center.