Between 1972 and 2007 I was chronically addicted to the substance. That sounds bad in and of itself, but the theophylline worked. It worked to keep my lungs opened up. It helped me and thousands of other asthmatics before Long Acting Beta Adrenergics were combined with improved inhaled corticosteroids.
Before I started taking Advair in 2003, and when I forgot a dose of theophylline (which was most often Theo-dur), my airways twitched and an asthmatic attack often ensued. These attacks were the worse ever, and a sure sign of my addiction. Getting off the substance was something I yearned, yet never hoped for.
After starting Advair I observed I didn't have such attacks when I missed a dose of theophylline. It was at this point I started talking to my doctor about weaning myself off the theophylline. It took a year, and I succeeded.
Now fast forward five years. Thanks to allergies the Advair is sometimes not enough to prevent an asthma attack. When I had one last year at hunting camp, I suffered all night and the entire weekend before my breath came all the way back.
The next time that happened, and I felt panicked, I reached into my medicine cabinet and grabbed the bottle of theophylline I kept in their as a momento of my long-time addiction to the product. I downed one. Thirty minutes later my breath came back.
A month later the same happened, and the theophylline pulled me from the grips of an asthma attack once again. So I talked to my doctor about this hoping he'd at least give me one bottle of theophylline so I didn't have to dip into the five year old bottle. He said no.
Why? If something works so well, why not let me have it. It makes me kind of almost upset I told him I was able to wean myself off it.
To his defense, he gave me a prednisone pack. That's great, but why would I take prednisone for two weeks when one theophyllline would pull me out of an attack? It is my view that one theophylline pill would be much safer than two weeks of prednisone. He disagreed.
I suppose I should add the fear of theophylline to my growing list of myths of respiratory therapy. It's not like you can get high off theophylline, and it's not like I want to take it regularly. I tolerated it without side effects for more than 30 years. So why the hang up?
I don't want to waste valuable time at a doctor/patient visit to discuss this. However, one of these days I'm going to run into him on a slow day at work, and I'm going to embellish him with compliments and suck him into a discussion about theophylline.