The official blog of the Lung Institute.
A featured series where Lung Institute employees tell their stories #WhatIsMyWhy
My story of why I am at the Lung Institute (LI) is a very personal one. I am a physician assistant in the Tampa clinic and have been since 2015. My desire to work at LI has its roots from when I was a child.
Asthma Dominated My Younger Years
I had very bad asthma as a small child and most of my adolescent years were spent in a hospital, or an emergency room, or a doctor’s office, and often I was too sick to go to school.
I lived my life in fear from about September to March or April because those were the worst months for my asthma. But, I also worried about being a burden to my mother. She was a single parent who would have to take time off from work and lose pay and other opportunities so she could stay home and take care of me.
I Understand My Patient’s Story
It’s because of these experiences that I fully understand what my patients and their families are going through.
I know firsthand what it’s like not to breathe well, and I know what it’s like to wonder if I would ever get through the illness, and I know what it’s like to feel I am a burden to my family and those I love.
I spent a lot of time inside looking out the window as kids were playing in the yard. I took a special bus to school so I wouldn’t have to walk and possibly react to the Kentucky bluegrass I was most allergic to.
Of course, those were on the days when I was well enough to go to school. I felt trapped and sad. I had dreams of being able to run and play with my friends and do things that other kids could do.
When is a Holiday, Not a Holiday?
I’ve been admitted to the hospital so many times that I started counting how many holidays I spent in a hospital instead of at home. Well, I was in for every holiday except Memorial Day and Independence Day (which, not coincidentally, were during my “good” months).
It was during these stays that I learned to appreciate all that the nurses, doctors, techs and even janitorial staff do for patients, and that led me to become a practitioner.
Things Did Get Better
Fortunately, I grew out of my asthma and I made up for lost time. I was finally able to run, play sports, dance and do things I had only dreamed. I became an avid runner participating in many events and continue to do so today.
I went on to earn a college degree and became a physician assistant, and I am proud to say that I’ve been helping patients for 16 years. I had been working in orthopedics and I was involved in stem cell treatments for arthritis. I saw how patients benefited.
In 2015, an opportunity opened at the Lung Institute to help patients with lung disease utilizing a breakthrough science with stem cell therapy. I jumped on it.
Right after I started here, I was sharing my story with a patient and I got quite emotional when I remembered a prayer I used to say when I was a little girl. I remember being in the hospital. It was quiet and no one was around except me and the white surroundings of the walls and the bed. I was just tired of it all.
I sat up on my knees, bowed my head and told Him that if I could just feel better that I would promise to help others who couldn’t breathe. I honestly feel that it has come full circle now and that being here at this wonderful organization is my purpose and calling.
But, Things Didn’t Stay Better
Now, after many good years, my asthma is reappearing in my life, and I also am dealing with the fact my mom and other family members are aging. But, that isn’t my only fight.
My family has the genetic predisposition for COPD. My grandfather had it, my uncle and mother both have it.
Being at the Lung Institute and seeing patients get better is my hope. My hope for my family, for myself and for the generations to come. The work is so necessary and needed and it’s the first breakthrough in pulmonary medicine in my lifetime.
We Are a Great Team
I am helping to push the envelope, to find answers, and to ask the question: How can we do better and HELP PATIENTS by giving them a choice? I want to give them a choice for hope. We don’t have all the answers but at least we are looking for them and pushing the status quo.
I thank the Lung Institute for their passion and efforts on behalf of my family and my patients. Together we are working towards a better tomorrow.