New Doc…New Meds…New Life (sorta)

Followers of these pages know I suffer from severe COPD. To combat the breathing problems when I was living in Panama I used a Ventolin Inhaler which is an Over The Counter purchase. I also had another prescription for something I can’t remember the name of now. It gave me horrible leg cramps. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with my calf muscles in a painful knot. I discontinued taking whatever that was. 

When I returned to the states I was still using the Ventolin. A LOT. More than I felt comfortable doing, but simple tasks left me gasping for air. When I landed a physician on Anna Maria Island he prescribed a once-a-day med called Breo Ellipta. It changed my life. Before the Breo I couldn’t walk 100 yards without spending 10 minutes afterwards truing to catch my breath again. My Ventolin use went from a couple of inhalers a month to one about every month and a half to two months. A great improvement. 

The last few months, though, haven’t been so good on the respiration front. I get terribly winded when I’ve been shopping. I get back to my car and sometimes if takes me more than 5 minutes to get my breathing back to what passes for normal these days. Nearly every time I’m out in public and gasping someone asks me, “Are you all right” My stock answer is “Sixty years of smoking wasn’t a real good idea.” In case you’re wondering, I went cold turkey about 7 years ago and haven’t smoked anything since then.

I have to say that being in Panama helped. Those first couple of weeks were rough. I’d head out to the Romero or Rey Supermarkets to do my regular shopping and tell myself that I didn’t care, I was going to buy some cigarettes while I was there. Next thing I’d know I’d be outside waiting for the bus and no cigarettes. Not a conscious decision. But in Panama they are not allowed to display cigarettes. Used to when I first arrived. They had racks right over the cash registers. But that was discontinued. Out of sight out of mind. Then I return to the “Land of the Free” and you go into Walgreens, Circle K, CVS, 7/11 and behind the cash registers there’s thirty feet of nicotine delivery devices on display. (Yes,, I KNOW, it’s not like that at Walgreens and CVS anymore, but it was when I repatriated.)

Moving over here to the swamp in the central part of the state of Florida put me in another “network” as far as my insurance was concerned. They cancelled my policy without notifying me. Without the insurance the price of the Breo jumped from a co-pay of $45 to a flat out $385! I didn’t buy it. I had to wait nearly a month for the new insurance to kick in and I could buy the Breo at a reasonable price. Man was it ever rough not having the stuff. Just the Albuterol in the Ventolin. I was glad when I could start my daily dose again. 

While the new insurance kicked in on the first of June I had to wait nearly three weeks before I got to see my new doctor. Christ it was like an oriental Doogie Howser walked into the exam room. Either that of being just a couple weeks shy of hitting the 79th anniversary of my birth makes things seem odd. 

The new doc questioned me about my Ventolin use and said he was going to put me on something different…Trelegy. Where Breo has two different meds in each puff Trelegy has three. He gave me two, two-week samples and phoned in the scrip to the pharmacy. With the insurance this stuff is $2 more expensive than the Breo…$47 instead of $45.

I took my first hit of the Trelegy on the morning of the 19th. A while later I walked down to visit with my neighbor. His table and chair setup is about 75 yards or so away. Normally when I get down there I have to sit for a while and take a hit or two off the Ventolin until I’m “normal” again. This time, though,, the Ventolin stayed in the pocket of my jeans. I said I hoped it wasn’t some kind of “placebo” effect.

This morning I went down again. My neighbor wasn’t around and I returned to my boat without sitting in one of his chairs for a rest. Now, when I got back to my boat I was puffing. But I wasn’t gasping if you catch the subtle difference. I didn’t use the Ventolin. Using my breathing exercises I was fine in a couple of minutes 

Once more “Better Living Through Chemistry” has changed the way I’m able to go about my daily life.


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