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Being a Single Mom Is Challenging – My Asthma Made It Impossible

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After Years of Struggling, a Promising New Treatment Gave Tamie Her Life Back

Posted by Tamie

I went to the Temple Lung Center at Oaks and was told I had a really severe form of asthma. That's when Temple offered me a procedure called bronchial thermoplasty to get my asthma under control.

I'm Tamie and I live in Secane, Pennsylvania.

Being a single mom is hard enough as it is. Imagine coordinating 3 kids' schedules when you have severe asthma! Your kids are super busy doing activities, like soccer, cheer and chorus. There is so much to navigate and having no control over my asthma is a disaster for me. I never knew what triggers were going to set me off.

Asthma can feel like you’re being smothered. It’s like you’re trying to breathe through a narrow little straw. You try to keep yourself from panicking, and that makes it worse. Then you get scared. And the more you get scared, the worse it gets because you’re shutting down. It’s very frightening.

People with asthma carry a fast-acting inhaler. With mild asthma, you take your asthma puff and you’re normally pretty good. But with me, it just stopped working. I would take it four times, and still nothing. I’d continue to sink deeper and not be able to breathe.

Tamie with her family

My son asked me, “Mom, are you going to die? And if you die, what do we do?”

It got to the point where I was hospitalized every month, sometimes for 13 days in the ICU. It was then that I decided I needed to find a way to get better for my kids.

My turning point

Someone close to me suggested I go to the Temple Lung Center. She kind of kicked me in the pants and told me, “You’ve got to beat this.” With her encouragement and research, I learned about Dr. Stewart at the Temple Lung Center at Oaks.

After the first few visits, we tried some biologic medications. Instead of treating symptoms, biologics work to target different molecules in the body that cause asthma. And Dr. Stewart studied my lungs. He saw I had a really severe form of asthma, which I had no knowledge of before. I just thought it was asthma, but apparently there are different categories. Dr. Stewart and his team helped me learn a lot more about my disease.

It was at that point that Dr. Stewart referred me to Dr. Shenoy, and that’s when I learned about bronchial thermoplasty. It’s a procedure that opens up your lungs so you can breathe again. When they said I would be a candidate for that, it was exciting and scary. Ultimately, that is what gave me my life back.

A life-changing procedure

Dr. Shenoy did the bronchial thermoplasty in three parts. The way I understand it is they use a little device and they actually reduce the bronchial muscles that shrink the airway. And it gets rid of all that phlegm and mucus to keep your air flowing better.

My last procedure was over a year ago, and I haven’t been hospitalized overnight since. Now, when I’m experiencing wheezing or the typical asthma symptoms, I can still breathe through it.

Even with an asthma attack, I’m not as scared. I don’t have to call the paramedics. And it allowed me to plan. I can plan my life; go to family events and activities. I can attend my kids’ soccer games. I can support my daughter who cheers. And that alone gives me hope that I’ll be able to fully get back to work.

Cheering on my son at his soccer game.

The kids are excited again. They used to be afraid. They didn’t want to go off and leave me for anything. Now I’m right there, screaming, yelling and cheering for them. It feels like I got my family back.

Going to Temple made all the difference

The difference for me is that Temple listens to me. Dr. Stewart got to know me as a person. He actually helped me set goals. He said, “What do you want to do with your life?” Then we kind of backed into a treatment that felt right for me.

Before I found Temple, I didn’t think there was anything that could help with my asthma. I kind of felt like a lost cause. But after meeting with Temple and talking with the doctors, they had so many different options. They were able to help me do what I had to do to get my severe asthma under control.

The best part? Being able to be back for my kids, to be present, even if it’s on the sidelines screaming and cheering for them.

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