‘If You Were My Dad, I Would Want You to be Seen at National Jewish Health’

David Wedge was battling what appeared to be a respiratory illness for three years when a pulmonologist in Arizona gave him advice that changed his life. “If you were my dad, I would want you to be seen at National Jewish Health.”

David, who lives in Bristol, Conn., began feeling sick in 2009, while vacationing in Central America with his wife.  He was winded and couldn’t climb stairs.

When he got home, he went to see his general practitioner, who ordered a chest x-ray. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and put on antibiotics but they didn’t work. His doctor then referred him to a local pulmonologist, who diagnosed him with asthma. When his asthma treatments didn’t help, David was then referred to another local pulmonologist. The second pulmonologist told him his breathing problems were due to a mold allergy. David had his home and work space tested. The results came back and they couldn’t find the mold or the environmental culprit making him sick.

David had been living with his illness for three years when he and his wife had another idea: If the environment was making him sick, why not try changing it? To test that theory David and his wife made a temporary move and spent three months in Tuscan, Ariz. While being in the Southwest didn’t resolve his health issues, it did lead him to the pulmonologist in Arizona, who recommended he be seen at National Jewish Health.

“It was frustrating to not be referred sooner,” David explained. Once he got to Denver, however, he was grateful to be here as he was finally getting answers that helped him.

For starters, he was evaluated by Aryeh Fischer, MD, a rheumatologist who specializes in autoimmune and interstitial lung diseases, and Joshua J. Solomon, MD, a pulmonologist who specializes in interstitial lung disease. They worked together to help ensure an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan. They concluded that David had a systemic autoimmune disorder called “antisynthetase syndrome, ”which was the underlying cause of his respiratory problems. They instituted an immunosuppressive treatment plan to target antisynthetase syndrome and David’s condition has stabilized since he was first seen at National Jewish Health.

David, who’s a retired employee with the Connecticut Department of Education, continues to visit National Jewish Health every six months and is doing much better. A father of three grown children and grandfather to five, David said that his care here has given him his life back.

“I am very happy and pleased with the doctors, staff and treatment at National Jewish Health,” he said. “Everyone has been extremely professional and helpful.”


What is antisynthetase syndrome?

Antisynthetase syndrome is a chronic systemic autoimmune disorder often associated with interstitial lung disease.  There can be many symptoms and they often include myositis, interstitial lung disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon, specific types of rash, arthritis, fever and others.  The syndrome is usually treated with immunosuppressive medications under the guidance of a rheumatologist.  


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