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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Joe Goofus and the empty inhaler

I'm going to violate the patient confidentiality code and give you an update on our good friend Joe Goofus.  He's not informed enough to know about laws, so I'll take a risk here and assume I'm right.

He has been showing up in the emergency room a lot recently, requiring me to give him a boatload of Ventolin, and the nurse to give him bursts of corticosteroids to open up his lungs.  The medicine works every time, although as soon as it's out of his system he's right back in the ER.

It's frustrating, I'm telling you.  I educate him on how to care for his asthma, and it goes in one ear and out the other.  To be honest with you, it gets kind of annoying.  This guy is his own worst enemy.

I think this guy is in a world of hurt.  One of these days he's going to pick up a virus, like the flu virus, and he's going to end up with an asthma episode so severe we will not be able to save him.  I'm serious.  This guy is a quintessential example of a low informed asthmatic.

As a concerned asthmatic respiratory therapist, I screen out guys like Joe.  I ask all my asthmatics the following questions:
  • Do you have an asthma doctor
  • Do you take your asthma medicine as prescribed
Joe Goofus answers NO and YES.  Whoa, that may have surprised you there, but not me.  I don't fall for the "yes I have an inhaler bit." 

I say, "You been using your inhaler a lot, haven't you?"

"Well, yeah, I guess I do." He says, nodding his head, rolling his eyes.  

A bronchodilatoraholic can't fool me.  I know them like I know the backs of my formerly Ventolin stained fingers.  

After a few hours in the emergency room, his breathing is better.  The nurse reads him his discharge instructions knowing he's not going to follow them.  

I'm telling you his story because I don't want you to be a Joe Goofus.  I want you to take care of your asthma so you don't have to keep seeing guys like me.  I do not want YOU to be a goofus asthmatic.  

If you are a Goofus -- and most of us are, actually, so don't be embarrassed -- you'll want to get on the path to being more like Jake Gallant.  Ah, our friend Jake Gallant even makes me look like a Goofus he's so perfect.  

Yet Joe has some advice for us:
  1. See your asthma doctor at least once a year
  2. Take your asthma medicine exactly as prescribed
  3. Create and utilize an asthma action plan
There, how's that for keeping it simple?  

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