Central California Faculty Medical Group (CCFMG) and its University Centers of Excellence are now Inspire Health Medical Group.

Quality of Life with Severe Asthma

Growing up in the San Joaquin Valley, Tori Keith has suffered from allergic asthma her entire life due to the region’s declining air quality. Since childhood, Tori has been living with the daily impact of allergy-induced asthma, and as an avid outdoor person, this has been particularly challenging for her.

“I would carry my ‘arsenal’ of medical equipment constantly wherever I would go. I’d have to carry my inhaler, EpiPen, and nebulizer,” said Tori.

The valley has become one of the most polluted regions in the United States since it houses extensive production facilities for oil, agriculture, and warehouse distribution. As tough as it had been, severe asthma did not stop her from leading 23 years of being in law enforcement as a radio operator, where she was often put in the fire zone to relay critical messages during California wildfires. That arsenal of medical equipment that she needed to simply do her job was often heavy to carry around for multiple hours a day. She felt her career was her calling, so she could not allow her health condition to keep her from doing what she loved.

Prior to receiving her asthma therapy injections, a breath of fresh air that feels absolutely refreshing on a cool winter night to the average person would trigger an instant asthma attack for Tori. She would have to use her nebulizer every four hours, on the dot, every day. Exercising, doing yard work, or simple daily activities could give her an asthma attack, so she was always cautious.

Now, Tori lives in Mariposa County, where she often encounters natural wildfires that pollute the air and trigger her asthma. Tori received allergy shots to combat her allergy asthma, which temporarily lessened the burden of her symptoms. However, in 2019, she became severely ill and was admitted to the hospital five times on various occasions due to her asthma. After so many hospital visits, she was finally referred to a pulmonologist. Then, she met Vipul Jain, MD, MS, at University Pulmonary Associates. Through his care, she learned about the specific type of asthma that had been affecting her life.

According to the American Lung Association, asthma is no longer considered a single disease; rather, it is now categorized into distinct types along with some degree of inflammation in the airways. With Dr. Jain’s help, Tori discovered she has eosinophilic asthma. Eosinophils are one of the handful of white blood cells that help support the immune system and a surplus of eosinophils in the blood stream will cause inflammation in the airways. In Tori’s case, her eosinophil levels were too high and needed to be lowered with the asthma therapy injections prescribed by Dr. Jain.

“The therapy I received from him has been wonderful. My appointments with him have gotten better and better every time. It didn’t just happen overnight; it was a process,” Tori states.   

Dr. Jain is attentive and thorough with these visits as he checks in with patients on how the medication works for them and where they can improve or adjust their care plan, if necessary.

“[Being on this new medication is] life-changing because it has opened up my life to freedom to do things. Before, I could barely leave the house,” she said.

Tori gained her independence after being on asthma therapy for five years. Since meeting Dr. Jain, she has not been admitted to the hospital as much as she used to. Tori is highly active in her daily life and her community. In fact, she often helps in search and rescue in her area. The equipment she was dependent on her whole life will now only be used for emergencies. The weight of the medical equipment has lifted off her shoulders and she is able to enjoy her life as she pleases.