If you’ve been dealing with complicated or persistent asthma for a long time, your doctor has no doubt given you the not so surprising…. “I don’t know what else we can do for you” talk. My doctors ran out of ideas years ago, so Im pretty used to hearing it, but at last weeks hospital follow up visit, for the first time ever I got the non-verbal version of it.
After spending a good portion of the last 2 months in and and out of the hospital, I finally made it to the asthma clinic for a follow up visit with one of my pulmonologists. He’s a great guy, and it’s not so much what he said, it’s what he didn’t say that seemed odd to me. Maybe Im reading too much into this, but coupled with a conspicuous lack of eye contact during the visit, it felt like he was literally disengaging or distancing him himself from me. It was as if he was saying, what’s the point of discussing or reviewing any new therapies when nothing is going to make a difference anyway. There was no mention of when I should start to weaning off the steroids (I was on 40mg), or when I should return for another visit. Instead he spent most of the visit glancing at the computer screen and talked about additional tests and appointments that the lung transplant team had ordered for me.
If there was ever a time when I felt like he was giving up on me as an asthma patient, this was it. I could sense a complete shift in his attitude towards lung transplant. Up until today, he was one of the doctors on my care team, who was dead against the idea of transplant because he felt my disease hadn’t progressed to that point yet and that I would just be exchanging one set of problems for another. Again, I may have read too much into his demeanor, or maybe he just had other things on his mind at the time. Anyway, that’s vibe I got.
I’m sure it’s frustrating for doctors when they can’t come up with something new to offer their asthma patients, and it’s probably even harder when your patient just happens to be Respiratory Therapist who over-analyzes everything to begin with. The cold hard truth is that there just isn’t a lot new stuff out there for people with really bad non-eosinophilic asthma.
In the end, this particular follow up visit wasn’t a total waste of time. I did manage to get an order for a bipap machine to see if it would help me breath easier at night. But Im the one who suggested it in the first place, not the doctor. In any case, I left the clinic with something new to try, which gave me something to look forward to. At this point Im desperate to try anything that will save me from needing transplant, but after getting the silent treatment Im not so hopeful anymore.