My story, Danielle Hudson
When I was 18 months old I had a chest infection that turned to double pneumonia and I was in an oxygen tent for 4 days. The antibiotics I was given at this time, tetracycline, left my teeth discoloured. I was in hospital for a year, which was fairly typical for the 1960s, and 6 months of this was in an old TB hospital. Once out of hospital I was treated with antibiotics for 3 out of 4 weeks and I was always ill in the 4th week.
As a child I had intermittent chest infections and spells in hospital as well as some symptom-free years. When I was about 9 I had sweat tests at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. The tests are more sophisticated now, but in the 1970s it meant sitting in a small room, wrapped in blankets in front of a heater getting very hot! The results showed I did not have cystic fibrosis and I just remember being told I had ‘damaged lungs’. Later, in my teens, I was told I had bronchiectasis and asthma.
Infections, physiotherapy and absences from school and work have been a regular feature for me but I’ve always worked and have had a varied, active life. In my late 20s I discovered that exercise wasn’t all bad and that I love hill-walking and hiking. There were tears of joy when I climbed my first mountain!
I take Azithromycin prophylactically and have been since 2008, when I was also given an updated diagnosis of bronchiectasis with pseudomonas colonisation in both lungs. I have an average of 3 exacerbations a year (they have been more frequent this year so far) when I take 14 days of ciprofloxacin. It’s the only oral antibiotic that works on the pseudomonas for me but there are still plenty of other nebulised and IV antibiotics if I need them. I use an acapella device for mucous clearance. Last year I took part in phase 3 of the Pulmaquin drug trial for nebulised ciprofloxacin. I have yet to find out if I was on the drug or on placebo.
I recently started a Facebook page for people in my area who have a lung condition and it’s really good to be in touch with others in a similar position. Whilst treatment is better nowadays antibiotic resistance and pressures on the NHS are always a concern. I’m so pleased that we now have our own charity; things are looking up!