Lynda Mehrens, of Boise, Idaho, is “forever grateful” to National Jewish Health for helping her find answers to her chronic respiratory problems.
Lynda has had asthma since childhood, but it was generally well-controlled. However, in 2006, it flared up.
“My asthma went downhill. I had suffered from chronic sinus infections for 12 years, and that began aggravating my lungs,” said Lynda.
As a special education teacher, Lynda was frequently exposed to germs in the school environment. Her asthma started to interfere with all aspects of her life.
“I was crawling into work and I had to use my nebulizer throughout the day,” she said. “Traveling is my passion, but I had to stop because it was too hard to carry my bags.”
For the next five years, Lynda continued to live with frequent bouts of chronic sinusitis and asthma attacks. After retiring in 2009, Lynda’s symptoms had not improved, and she finally had time to focus on her health.
She discussed coming to National Jewish Health with her doctor in Boise. “My doctor did his residency at National Jewish Health, and I knew about it because I studied at the University of Northern Colorado,” she said.
In February 2011, Lynda had her first appointment at National Jewish Health. “Everyone was fabulous. It was incredible to have the doctors spend so much time with me and ask me questions that no one had asked.”
A team of doctors led by Tho Q. Truong, MD, who specializes in allergy and immunology at National Jewish Health, looked at every aspect of Lynda’s health. looked at every aspect of Lynda’s health. “I had several days of testing and saw two pulmonologists, an otolaryngologist, a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist and a sleep specialist.”
Lynda was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, an inflammatory obstruction of the lung’s tiniest airways, called bronchioles. The bronchioles become damaged and inflamed, leading to extensive scarring that blocks the airways. Unfortunately, the disease is irreversible, but treatment can help to stabilize or at least slow its progression.
“It was devastating at the time, and I spent months dealing with my feelings,” she said. “But, I came to terms with it and said to myself, ‘onward and upward!’”
The physicians at National Jewish Health also prescribed treatments for Lynda’s chronic sinus infections. Initially, doctors recommended that Lynda have surgery to unblock her sinuses.
“By June, I felt significantly better,” she said. “When I came for my follow-up appointment in August and for the surgery, the infections had cleared up. I no longer needed the surgery.”
Lynda is feeling better and is able to see her allergy and asthma doctor and her pulmonologist in Boise, who coordinate with physicians at National Jewish Health for her care.
She is able to be more active and enjoys riding her cruiser bike, and she hopes to begin traveling again soon.
“It was a unique health care experience,” she said. “I am forever grateful to National Jewish Health.”
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