Barbara Couldn’t Stop Coughing
December 27, 2019
I grew up in Indiana and and lived in
Washington DC for 40 years. I hiked a lot. I went to the Grand Canyon. Ah, I went
overseas the Dominican Republic, to Africa.
I just didn’t sit at home very much. My first symptoms of NTM, were just a cough.
And it was a dry day by day coughing. It was kind of a violent coughing in spasms.
And so it was kind of like grab your ribs and just cough, cough, cough. And at
one point, I broke two ribs which is a very painful injury. I could no longer go
out to lunch with friends because I would cough all through lunch. Couldn’t
go out to a movie theater. Couldn’t go to church, I would cough all through the
service. I just felt lonely and scared. I went to 15 different doctors in
various medical specialties. Ah, pulmonologist, cardiologist, allergist
infectious disease doctors. I coughed for uh, over two years before I was finally
diagnosed with this disease. I went to a major hospital that focused on lung
disease. And it was at that hospital as soon as I walked in that door, they knew
I had NTM. It was almost the first thing out of their mouths. They said you know
you’re an older woman. You’re slender. You’ve been coughing for a couple years
now. And you have underlying bronchiectasis. I fit the pattern. Finally
somebody somewhere put all the pieces of the puzzle together and it was almost a
joyous experience to know what I had that I wasn’t crazy.