Cathy Luhman

First post: May 30, 2018 Latest post: Jul 28, 2018
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I was a very healthy, active person in 2014. I was square dancing up to 4 nights a week, working as a neurological Physical Therapist, doing pretty much what I wanted to do with the health to do it. In 2014 I got very ill and was hospitalized. I ended up off work for 9 weeks and given a confusing diagnosis: asthma and GERD (reflux). I was told the asthma and GERD formed a continuous cycle, triggering each other, and causing a continual asthma flare. I went from 4 medications to 12 overnight. As long as I took those 12 medications, my lungs stayed stable for 3 more years, or so I thought.

In May of 2017, I got sick again. Coughing and wheezing and short of breath. I started to ask more questions of my doctors. After many tests and many specialists, on March 8, 2018 they arrived at a diagnosis. It turns out this is the correct diagnosis for what happened in 2014 as well. I have been diagnosed with tracheobronchomalacia. It is a softening of the cartilage of the trachea and bronchi such that they collapse when I exhale. So when I cough, or laugh, or sing, or lay down, my airways collapse. As always, my Father God was looking over me and I was accepted into a specialty clinic for TBM at the hospital for Harvard Medical School in Boston, Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center. I spent 2 weeks at Beth Israel in April for evaluation and a stent trial to determine if I was likely to benefit from a surgery to stabilize my floppy airways. The stent trial was successful and surgery was scheduled.

I went home to St. Louis to work for 4 weeks and await my time for the tracheobronchoplasty. Now the time has come. On Memorial Day Rick and I will fly to Boston to be ready for surgery on Wednesday morning, May 30th. We have been told to anticipate an 8 hour surgery where my very skilled surgeon, Dr. S. Gangadharan, will attach silicone mesh to my trachea and bronchi to stabilize the airways. I feel so privileged to have the very best surgeon as my doctor, and the very best interventional pulmonologist, Dr. A. Majid, as my doctor as well. I am ready to breathe well again!!!!!

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