Out of Breath

October 28th, 2011 | Author: Katelyn Turner

Elaine Bray, who was diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency in 2003, says she went a long time not knowing what was wrong.

“I gradually began losing my breath and not being able to walk as much. Things just kept getting worse and worse. Three different specialists told me I had adult onset asthma, and each one gave me inhalers and medication, but nothing seemed to help,” Bray says. “I had pneumonia three times before I actually found out I had Alpha-1. Finally I resigned from my job [as the vice president of a bank] at 68 because I couldn’t manage anymore.”

One night, Bray says she couldn’t breathe at all, and her husband, David, told her she needed to go to the hospital.

“This young doctor came in and asked me if I had blood tests, administered them…and the next morning came in and told me I had Alpha-1. I had no idea what it was, and he explained it was genetic and so forth,” she says.

After that, Bray was put on medication and began working out with an exercise group. She stopped attending pulmonary rehabilitation when her husband, David, became very ill.

Bray, 76, says she suffered from anxiety attacks and also has participated in a sleep study. Before she did the sleep study, she’d find herself falling asleep during the day, but now she is back to a regular sleep pattern.

“If people have any sort of breathing problems that aren’t getting any better, they should talk to their doctor about being tested for Alpha-1,” she says. “I hope my story pushes others to get tested before they’re in the position I’m in. Now, I get out of breath even taking a shower.”

“You take so much for granted when you can breathe,” she says.

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