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Decades of Struggling with Asthma: Terri’s Experience Before Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center

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Roopen R. Patel, MD
Medically reviewed by
Roopen R. Patel, MD

After decades of struggling to find a long-term solution for asthma, Terri, a patient of Roopen R. Patel, MD, at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center is living without constant asthma symptoms for the first time in her life.

Terri’s asthma symptoms began when she was an infant. She stopped breathing, and would have to be taken to the local children’s hospital often. She even had a nebulizer at home.

“I’ve had issues with asthma all my life,” Terri says. “We lived in a very old house, and doctors told my mom that we had to move because they thought the home was making me sick. When we moved, my asthma did get better, but I was around people smoking all the time, and that always made me cough, too. And when I got older, I still thought I was always going to have this because that’s all I’ve ever known.”

Asthma is a long-term respiratory disease that causes the airways to temporarily inflame and narrow, which makes it difficult to breathe. For some, asthma symptoms are mild and go away after taking a small amount of medication — but for others, like Terri, symptoms can be more serious and cause asthma attacks and difficulty breathing for periods of time on and off for years.

Allergens like pollen, mold, and pet dander can trigger asthma, as well as smoke exposure, illness, and changes in weather or temperature. In any case, for people with asthma to get care that makes a long-term difference, they need to identify what triggers their asthma. The most qualified professional to diagnose and treat asthma is an allergist, who can confirm an allergy or asthma diagnosis with lung function tests and chest x-rays.

Terri received a recommendation to see Dr. Roopen Patel through her primary care physician.

“From the time I was young until I met Dr. Patel, every doctor was focused on a band aid treatment,” Terri explains. “They were staying very surface level and not really going deeper to understand why I was having all those asthma attacks, and why they were so severe.”

The Positive Effects of Comprehensive Care: Terri’s New “Fearlessness” Without Constant Asthma Symptoms

When she saw Dr. Patel for appointments, Terri said, she noticed that he wouldn’t just provide an immediate diagnosis or start writing prescriptions within minutes of seeing her, but would give her individual treatment based on what she needed.

“He’s not a transactional doctor,” Terri says. “He has excellent bedside manner, but he takes it a step further to really make sure you understand and explain to you, what’s happening to your body, what’s triggering it.”

Dr. Roopen Patel helped identify a longer-term solution for Terri’s asthma — Xolair injections, which reduce symptoms for severe allergic asthma — and worked with Terri to get a grant for the shots so she didn’t have to pay the full amount. Terri’s lungs have become stronger, and now she can get outside and play with her teenage sons without being slowed down by her asthma.

“My sons are very active,” Terri says. “Now, I can go out in the backyard, kick the soccer ball with them and be able to go a couple of rounds instead of kicking the ball maybe two or three times, and then needing to go sit down.”

When Terri began seeing Dr. Patel, she had monthly appointments. Now, she only visits twice a year. And when Terri reflects on what has changed the most for her since getting a thorough asthma action plan, the difference isn’t just physical, but mental.

“From a mental standpoint, my asthma has been one less thing I have to worry about,” Terri says. “I used to go to the hospital four times a year, and I had to plan my life around possibly being in the hospital, or I had to not book travel because I didn’t know if the weather would change and how my asthma would act. I don’t live like that anymore. I’m almost fearless. I’m not living in the fear of not knowing when I’m going to be in the hospital.”

A Supportive Clinical Environment: How Terri Receives Thorough Care at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center

Terri also felt welcomed and supported by the Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center staff when she visited the office. In addition to the office always being clean, Terri noticed the camaraderie among the providers and staff.

“From the time you walk through the door, even the women who are in the shot room putting needles in your arm, you just feel love, you feel seen,” she explains. “Everyone is always in a great mindset. You can really tell people like where they work, and I think that’s a reflection of the doctors who are the leaders in that office.”

Terri shared that an environment where she is welcomed and encouraged to understand her diagnosis and ask questions is especially hard to find because of her race.

“As a Black woman, I’ve had a lot of issues in the medical field,” Terri says. “I’ve felt a lot of times like I’m not heard, sometimes due to race, sometimes due to other things. Every time I go to Dr. Patel, though, whether it’s an annual checkup or because I’m not feeling well, I always feel heard and seen.”

Terri experienced this recently, when she visited Dr. Roopen Patel after a cough lingered for weeks after she was sick. She was on antibiotics and steroids, but couldn’t get the cough to go away. When she had an appointment with Dr. Patel, he suggested that there might be an unrelated cause.

“Everyone was treating the symptoms, but Dr. Patel went through everything and realized it was silent acid reflux,” Terri says. “He pulled out a piece of paper with an ink pen and drew the inside of my stomach and began to explain to me why he thinks this. What doctor does that?”

Dr. Roopen Patel recommended that Terri change her diet before trying a medication, and it worked to resolve the cough within days.

“If you’re looking for a physician who is going to truly listen and hear your issues and then have the knowledge, have the expertise to help you find the solution, or at least a more manageable way of lifestyle, Dr. Patel is the man.”

Get the care you need to live without the stress of chronic asthma and allergy conditions.

Finding a provider who listens, understands, and provides holistic care is essential for those who want to manage the symptoms of their asthma and allergies. Having trust in your doctor-patient relationship — like the confidence that Terri experiences with Dr. Roopen Patel — can help you advocate for your own care and find sustainable, long-term treatment options.

If you or someone you love are seeking quality asthma treatment, schedule an appointment with a physician at Carolina Allergy & Asthma Center. Our team of board-certified asthma specialists and allergy physicians brings expertise and compassion to every patient. 

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