Connie Hofmann's Story
I knew I was in trouble when I started coughing up blood.
It was the summer of 1996, and I had no other symptoms. No common cold - nothing. It scared me to death. I went to see my doctor, and began six years of utter frustration.
My physician took a chest X-ray, then sent me to a pulmonologist who ordered up another X-ray and an MRI. He told me I had tuberculosis, and that I should notify everyone I've had contact with so that they could get tested.
Have you ever called up family and friends and people at work and told them you have TB? It's no fun. I was a schoolteacher, so I was told I couldn't work for six months. Within a week, the pulmonologist called back and said I didn't have TB; I had bronchiectasis caused by Mycobacterium Avium Complex, or MAC. So I got to call everyone back. I still had to stay home for six months and take antibiotics for a year.
Over time, I went to eight doctors in the New York/New Jersey area. I wasn't getting any better. One doctor said "Your lungs are not good." Right. I lost 20 pounds and could not eat or sleep, and then I began coughing blood again.
That's when someone thought of National Jewish Health. Dr. Gwen Huitt took my case. She knows more about MAC than anyone I've ever met. She put me on heavy medication for seven days, then sent me home with prescriptions to take for 10 months. I come back every year once or twice for a check-up, but basically, I remain stable.
My quality of life has returned. I golf and walk and have a normal life. Dr. Huitt found me a good pulmonologist in my area, and life is good.
If it hadn't been for National Jewish Health, I wouldn't be here. It's as simple as that.