Pre-Existing Condition

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Do you see this molecular structure? For your Organic buffs, it’s named (RS)-4-[2-(tert-butylamino)-1-hydroxyethyl]-2-(hydroxymethyl)phenol, this is also known by it’s common name Albuterol or Salbutamol. This regal B2-agonist, a molecule, this drug (along with a myriad of others) is the reason why I’m still alive to type these blogs in the first place. This therapeutic drug is the mainstay drug for asthmatics when it comes to fast action, for times when feeling as though you’re breathing through a coffee straw just won’t suffice. I spent so much time at the hospital, as a patient, that when I came back later as a volunteer it felt like I’d never left my home.

Asthma is a pretty common chronic illness, case in point around over 235 million individuals around the world suffer from asthma (for reference, if that number were all US citizens then 3 out of 4 people in the US would have asthma):

In the United States each year:

  • 4,000 people have an asthma attack. — Growing up I had asthma attacks weekly, though usually it was only when I was concurrently “sick” is when the ambulance needed to be called. 
  • 36,000 kids miss school due to asthma. — I be laid up in the hospital for several weeks, then sent on bed rest for another month or so usually in elementary school. I missed so much school from asthma that I was actually almost held back twice due to missing more class than allowed by the school district. So, I finished most of my school work at home, by myself and did fine. By the time I graduated from HS, Cadillac drugs (long acting beta-2 agonists, with less side effects) were re-released, so missing work was less of an issue. Furthermore, I was a candidate for several clinical trials due to the severity of my asthma — I was on trials for many medicines that finally did make it to the pharmacy, many are still in the pipework (I signed a secrecy consent there). 
  • 4,700 people visit the emergency room due to asthma. — I had about an average of 2-3 hospital resulting attacks until I graduated from HS.
  • 1,200 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma. — I concur, I was one of them.
  • 9 people die from asthma. — My goal was not to die, though I’ve been there and done that. 


Growing up as an asthmatic without a primary care physician (insurance, or lack thereof), I was a teaching hospital favorite, I’m sure I could of got at least a free hospital stay (or a lifetime supply of jello) with all the stamps I amassed in the ER and ICU. In fact, I’ve been hospitalized well over 30 times in my life time — including one code that made me nearly one of those 9 people to die each year. Now, in contrast it’s amazing to think that I just signed up for healthcare via Covered California (go ACA), I’ll have a primary care physician, and I’ll no longer have to keep my healthcare by being a research subject. Furthermore, it’s very, very cheap (after rebates, it comes out to a little more than a dollar a month to keep my plan). In case a piano falls on me, or if I’m man-handled by a giant squid the most I can possibly pay is capped at $2,500. Growing up with a single parent, the whole family experienced several lapse in coverage, putting my own family in debt (most because of me really). It’s nice to know that less people in the United States will be vulnerable to this.

I’ll remember how it felt to be a constant patient when it comes time to be at their bedside.

PS, get covered!




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