(MAC/MAI) MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM COMPLEX PULMONARY DISEASE/BRONCHIECTASIS

Posted by Katherine, Alumni Mentor @katemn, Nov 21, 2011

I am new to Mayo online .. I was hoping to find others with .. MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM COMPLEX PULMONARY DISEASE (MAC/MAI) and/or BRONCHIECTASIS. I found only 1 thread on mycobacterium accidently under the catagory “Lungs”. I’m hoping by starting a subject matter directly related to MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM COMPLEX PULMONARY DISEASE (MAC/MAI) I may find others out there!

I was diagnosed by a sputum culture August 2007 (but the culture result was accidentally misfiled until 2008!) with MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM COMPLEX PULMONARY DISEASE (MAC/MAI) and BRONCHIECTASIS. I am now on 5 antibiotics. Working with Dr. Timothy Aksamit at Rochester Mayo Clinic .. he is a saint to have put up with me this long! I was terrified of the treatment . started the first antibiotic September 3, 2011 … am now on all 5 antibiotics for 18 mos to 2 years. Am delighted at the very bearable side effects!

I wrote on the 1 thread I found: If you google NON-TUBERCULOUS MYCOBACTERIUM AVIUM COMPLEX PULMONARY DISEASE (MAC/MAI) you will learn a LOT about the disease. But PLEASE do NOT get scared about all the things you read .. that is what I did and nearly refused to do the treatment until after a 2nd Micomacterium was discovered! Educate yourself for “due diligence” .. but take it all with a grain of salt .. you are NOT necessarily going to have all the terrible side effects of the antibiotics! Good luck to you!

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January 2017 Update

One of our great Connect Members .. @Paula_MAC2007  .. had a wonderfully helpful idea that I wanted to share! Her idea .. as you read through the pages to gather information on our shared disease of MAC you can develop a personal “file cabinet” for future reference without the necessity of reading all the pages again!

If you have the “MS Word” program on your computer:

  1. Document Title Example:  Mayo Clinic Connect MAI/MAC Information
  2. Then develop different categories that make sense to you such as:  Heath Aids .. Videos .. Healthy Living .. Positive Thinking .. Baseline Testing and Regular Testing .. Antibiotics ..
    Tips for
  3. As you read the pages .. copy/paste/save things of interest into that MS Word document under your preferred categories for future reference.

Then as you want to refer back to something in the future .. YEAH!  You have now created your own personal “file cabinet” on MAC/MAI!  Go to it!

KateMN

@kwilbur

Thank you so much for your positiveness. I have not been officially diagnosed with this bacteria but my chest scans are showing indications. My doctor, who I trust and regard highly, has recommended chest scans every three months. When it comes time he will cleanse my lungs, as I understand with a saline solution and begin antibiotics. What concerns me so much is that I am told I will not be able to work for 16 months. I am on my own and have worked as a teacher at the same school for 31 years! And, yes, I love the kids. It makes me so sad to think I will have to stop – also risking losing my house.

This is the first time I have seen a site where other people talk about their experiences. I am sixty-four and am also working with a very proactive internist to help me through the weakness and weight loss.

Well, I guess this is the beginning of my journey. And I WILL keep educating myself. Very best, Kathryn

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I am so heartened by this personal response to my posts. My pulmonologist
wants to go ahead with what you suggest when he is certain he can get a
good sample. He has cautioned me though about the strength of the drugs. I
am so worried that I won’t be able to work. I have just started my 31st
year of teaching and seem to be making the hours – 12 hours days with the
drive. You are all so inspiring. I am so glad I found this site.
Thank you.

REPLY
@justjanet

Kay,
My bronch. is in the lingula and right middle lobe and my MAC (nodules)is in right middle lobe and posterior left lower lobe. I wasn’t told much by my doctor at Duke. But, when they were wheeling me in for the bronchoscopy she said “well, you must not have it very bad if you can’t cough up a sample on your own”. That was just another reason I knew I needed to switch Dr’s. I probably don’t have a severe case now. But, whether a person can cough up sputum on their own or not has nothing to do with the severity of their disease. Even I know that much from my research. So ixnay on that doc :). Luckily I found another. Tomorrow I have several appts at UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. They also specialize in the treatment of NTM’s. I think they will be able to give me much better answers on how I should proceed. I may not need treatment yet as my symptoms aren’t bad – lack of appetite is the worst of them. But, I have lots of questions and it will be nice to talk to someone I trust knows a lot about this. I’ll let y’all 🙂 know what I think of the clinic. It might be a good resource for anyone that is close to Chapel Hill, NC. We have so few places like that to go to. I would like to learn more about clearing my lungs. There are times when they feel “full” and I know from reading these posts that there are exercises that we can learn to help clear some of that. Maybe I’ll learn more about that tomorrow too. I’ll let you know. Janet

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During the summer, when I was active outdoors, I used to have to lie down
in the afternoon to clear out my lungs. It would last about twenty
minutes – I’d use a towel – before they would “calm down”. This wore me
out so then I would sleep for three hours then get up and try to make
something out of my day.

But I just don’t know when these build-ups will occur. What most of you
are saying is that I do go ahead with what my doctor has suggested – a
swabbing to diagnose, cleansing and move on from there. He is checking me
again in October.

Thank you so much

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@kwilbur

There is always a solution isn’t there? My best time is afternoon when I really have to clear my lungs. I will try.

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Good morning – I was diagnosed with MAC in July, 2016. I take the big three daily. I still work and I feel better since I started taking the meds. Keep the faith!!! You are not alone out here. I was terrified about taking the meds, going so far as saying I wasn’t going to take any of the meds because of all of the possible side effects!!! I called my pulmo doctor crying and very upset. My pulmo reassured me that he had other patients taking the same meds, and no side effects. So now, I am doing exactly what the doctor tells me to do, I went and got my eyes/ears tested and I will be going in monthly for blood tests. I don’t know if you believe in prayer, but it works!!! Believe me!!! I might have a long way to go, but I refuse to let this “infection” take over and rule my life. I have a good support group at work, and they know when I am feeling down, and they come and lift my spirits!!! So stay the course, and start a countdown. That’s what I am doing, counting down the days I can get off the meds and my lungs are free and clear!!! Sophie….

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@kwilbur

There is always a solution isn’t there? My best time is afternoon when I really have to clear my lungs. I will try.

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I probably am using the wrong terminology. My doctor says that he puts saline solution in my right lung three times. First a swabbing of the bacteria I believe to determine which type of bacteria I have and what drugs will be effective. I am really new at this. Sorry if I caused confusion. I am learning from you.

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@justjanet

Kay,
My bronch. is in the lingula and right middle lobe and my MAC (nodules)is in right middle lobe and posterior left lower lobe. I wasn’t told much by my doctor at Duke. But, when they were wheeling me in for the bronchoscopy she said “well, you must not have it very bad if you can’t cough up a sample on your own”. That was just another reason I knew I needed to switch Dr’s. I probably don’t have a severe case now. But, whether a person can cough up sputum on their own or not has nothing to do with the severity of their disease. Even I know that much from my research. So ixnay on that doc :). Luckily I found another. Tomorrow I have several appts at UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. They also specialize in the treatment of NTM’s. I think they will be able to give me much better answers on how I should proceed. I may not need treatment yet as my symptoms aren’t bad – lack of appetite is the worst of them. But, I have lots of questions and it will be nice to talk to someone I trust knows a lot about this. I’ll let y’all 🙂 know what I think of the clinic. It might be a good resource for anyone that is close to Chapel Hill, NC. We have so few places like that to go to. I would like to learn more about clearing my lungs. There are times when they feel “full” and I know from reading these posts that there are exercises that we can learn to help clear some of that. Maybe I’ll learn more about that tomorrow too. I’ll let you know. Janet

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Kwilbur,
Can you explain what you mean by clearing your lungs? A towel? Are you just coughing a lot to get pflegm out of your throat? Is it clear? Just curious how you do this.

I have post nasal drip and have to clear my throat, but seldom does anything feel like it’s coming from my lung.

Thanks for explaining how you do this.

I know we are all different and our presentations of MAC are different.

Thanks
KayS

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@kwilbur

Thank you so much for your positiveness. I have not been officially diagnosed with this bacteria but my chest scans are showing indications. My doctor, who I trust and regard highly, has recommended chest scans every three months. When it comes time he will cleanse my lungs, as I understand with a saline solution and begin antibiotics. What concerns me so much is that I am told I will not be able to work for 16 months. I am on my own and have worked as a teacher at the same school for 31 years! And, yes, I love the kids. It makes me so sad to think I will have to stop – also risking losing my house.

This is the first time I have seen a site where other people talk about their experiences. I am sixty-four and am also working with a very proactive internist to help me through the weakness and weight loss.

Well, I guess this is the beginning of my journey. And I WILL keep educating myself. Very best, Kathryn

Jump to this post

Believe me, it gets better!. In 2009 I was coughing blood, dizzy, no energy. I was misdiagnosed for months but then I demanded a CT scan and the results were identified, MAC. It took 3 to 4 years before I truly felt normal. I avoided going places because I would always cough. I’m sure people thought I was a heavy smoker. I still have to clear my lungs once a day, but after that I have no other symptoms. I’m 61. As many women agree, I believe there is some relationship to menopause. I was very depleted when tested. I have since been on hormone therapy. I take probiotics and get plenty of rest. Everyone is different, but after a while it all becomes less intimidating and you start focusing on other parts of your life. You might to take a leave of work until your energy comes back, and it will. It is a long journey and I will always wonder why I would get this infection that I never even heard of, but I did and all I know is there are far worse illnesses to have.

REPLY
@justjanet

Kay,
My bronch. is in the lingula and right middle lobe and my MAC (nodules)is in right middle lobe and posterior left lower lobe. I wasn’t told much by my doctor at Duke. But, when they were wheeling me in for the bronchoscopy she said “well, you must not have it very bad if you can’t cough up a sample on your own”. That was just another reason I knew I needed to switch Dr’s. I probably don’t have a severe case now. But, whether a person can cough up sputum on their own or not has nothing to do with the severity of their disease. Even I know that much from my research. So ixnay on that doc :). Luckily I found another. Tomorrow I have several appts at UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. They also specialize in the treatment of NTM’s. I think they will be able to give me much better answers on how I should proceed. I may not need treatment yet as my symptoms aren’t bad – lack of appetite is the worst of them. But, I have lots of questions and it will be nice to talk to someone I trust knows a lot about this. I’ll let y’all 🙂 know what I think of the clinic. It might be a good resource for anyone that is close to Chapel Hill, NC. We have so few places like that to go to. I would like to learn more about clearing my lungs. There are times when they feel “full” and I know from reading these posts that there are exercises that we can learn to help clear some of that. Maybe I’ll learn more about that tomorrow too. I’ll let you know. Janet

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when I start feeling a bit congested, sort of a heaviness, usually around noon, I lay flat for a couple minutes and take a few deep breaths and cough. Usually about 20 minutes will do it. I don’t have a lot of mucus, a few tissues in fine. The only problem is when I go away with friends or family and can’t get the time alone, then I have to wait until I get home. I think the theory is that the mucus slides up to a place that makes it easier to bring up. Try it for a few minutes, try to cough from a deeper place than your throat. Also try lying with your chest and head lower that the rest of your body. at first. One of the issues with broncheitasis and MAC is that the lungs lose the ability bring up the mucus naturally.

REPLY
@justjanet

Kay,
My bronch. is in the lingula and right middle lobe and my MAC (nodules)is in right middle lobe and posterior left lower lobe. I wasn’t told much by my doctor at Duke. But, when they were wheeling me in for the bronchoscopy she said “well, you must not have it very bad if you can’t cough up a sample on your own”. That was just another reason I knew I needed to switch Dr’s. I probably don’t have a severe case now. But, whether a person can cough up sputum on their own or not has nothing to do with the severity of their disease. Even I know that much from my research. So ixnay on that doc :). Luckily I found another. Tomorrow I have several appts at UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. They also specialize in the treatment of NTM’s. I think they will be able to give me much better answers on how I should proceed. I may not need treatment yet as my symptoms aren’t bad – lack of appetite is the worst of them. But, I have lots of questions and it will be nice to talk to someone I trust knows a lot about this. I’ll let y’all 🙂 know what I think of the clinic. It might be a good resource for anyone that is close to Chapel Hill, NC. We have so few places like that to go to. I would like to learn more about clearing my lungs. There are times when they feel “full” and I know from reading these posts that there are exercises that we can learn to help clear some of that. Maybe I’ll learn more about that tomorrow too. I’ll let you know. Janet

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Thank you so much. You understand. Seriously, it brings tears to my eyes to have someone else who knows. I get so much from my lungs that I am exhausted afterwards. Yesterday I had nothing. Today who knows? I will print out your idea.

REPLY
@justjanet

Kay,
My bronch. is in the lingula and right middle lobe and my MAC (nodules)is in right middle lobe and posterior left lower lobe. I wasn’t told much by my doctor at Duke. But, when they were wheeling me in for the bronchoscopy she said “well, you must not have it very bad if you can’t cough up a sample on your own”. That was just another reason I knew I needed to switch Dr’s. I probably don’t have a severe case now. But, whether a person can cough up sputum on their own or not has nothing to do with the severity of their disease. Even I know that much from my research. So ixnay on that doc :). Luckily I found another. Tomorrow I have several appts at UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. They also specialize in the treatment of NTM’s. I think they will be able to give me much better answers on how I should proceed. I may not need treatment yet as my symptoms aren’t bad – lack of appetite is the worst of them. But, I have lots of questions and it will be nice to talk to someone I trust knows a lot about this. I’ll let y’all 🙂 know what I think of the clinic. It might be a good resource for anyone that is close to Chapel Hill, NC. We have so few places like that to go to. I would like to learn more about clearing my lungs. There are times when they feel “full” and I know from reading these posts that there are exercises that we can learn to help clear some of that. Maybe I’ll learn more about that tomorrow too. I’ll let you know. Janet

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Hello all, well if we are going to get “gross” as the kids say .. we may as well get into the “gross” ways we handle our coughing and mucus!! Seriously . . I just went on a trip with my best friend of MANY years who knows all about my MAC but had not been around me when I “clear my lungs” so I warned her in advance it was pretty “gross” sounding when I do it .. so be prepared!!

What I do and it seems to work pretty well when I have the most mucus .. and LUCKILY right now I have mostly clear mucus with very little dark yellow spots. In July I had a serious bout of Bronchitis and what came up was nickel size very dark yellow spots tinged with blood. I use those mucus type as a symptom of my lung health.

So my “gross” system. Twice a day (when I wake up and before bed) I use two puffs of my two inhalers: Qvar and Atrovent. For whatever reason they make me cough like crazy. I then cough into my bathroom sink and flush with HOT water whatever muscus comes up. This system allows me to see exactly what is coming out of my lungs in the white sink basin .. allows me to feel more “sanitary” by flushing it down with very hot water .. and I can keep track of if the sputum is mostly clear .. size of the yellow infected spots .. blood etc. I can track how an infection is doing by the amount of dark yellow sputum spots and/or blood.

Ok .. NOW we are REALLY blood sisters/brothers in crime .. sharing all our gory secrets! How ’bout that!! Sending hugs to all! Katherine

REPLY
@justjanet

Kay,
My bronch. is in the lingula and right middle lobe and my MAC (nodules)is in right middle lobe and posterior left lower lobe. I wasn’t told much by my doctor at Duke. But, when they were wheeling me in for the bronchoscopy she said “well, you must not have it very bad if you can’t cough up a sample on your own”. That was just another reason I knew I needed to switch Dr’s. I probably don’t have a severe case now. But, whether a person can cough up sputum on their own or not has nothing to do with the severity of their disease. Even I know that much from my research. So ixnay on that doc :). Luckily I found another. Tomorrow I have several appts at UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. They also specialize in the treatment of NTM’s. I think they will be able to give me much better answers on how I should proceed. I may not need treatment yet as my symptoms aren’t bad – lack of appetite is the worst of them. But, I have lots of questions and it will be nice to talk to someone I trust knows a lot about this. I’ll let y’all 🙂 know what I think of the clinic. It might be a good resource for anyone that is close to Chapel Hill, NC. We have so few places like that to go to. I would like to learn more about clearing my lungs. There are times when they feel “full” and I know from reading these posts that there are exercises that we can learn to help clear some of that. Maybe I’ll learn more about that tomorrow too. I’ll let you know. Janet

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What happens is that about mid afternoon or a little later I get too tired to do anything. So I lie in bed. As soon as I put my head down my lungs start to act up. I don’t have trouble breathing but I must cough up phlegm. I always have a soft dish towel and sit up and spit – it is often about a dime size green phlegm. Sometimes it is just white but it is thick and not post nasal drip.

This goes on for at least fifteen minutes. Then I can lie down restfully and I put my hand over my chest sort of as a calming method – and fall into a deep sleep.

I have been back to school for two days and can’t do that of course. So far so good. But I always carry a handkerchief with me or two. It is odd – but if the kids / students make me laugh that will cause my lungs to act up too.

Sorry to be so – well – real – in my description.

REPLY
@justjanet

Kay,
My bronch. is in the lingula and right middle lobe and my MAC (nodules)is in right middle lobe and posterior left lower lobe. I wasn’t told much by my doctor at Duke. But, when they were wheeling me in for the bronchoscopy she said “well, you must not have it very bad if you can’t cough up a sample on your own”. That was just another reason I knew I needed to switch Dr’s. I probably don’t have a severe case now. But, whether a person can cough up sputum on their own or not has nothing to do with the severity of their disease. Even I know that much from my research. So ixnay on that doc :). Luckily I found another. Tomorrow I have several appts at UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. They also specialize in the treatment of NTM’s. I think they will be able to give me much better answers on how I should proceed. I may not need treatment yet as my symptoms aren’t bad – lack of appetite is the worst of them. But, I have lots of questions and it will be nice to talk to someone I trust knows a lot about this. I’ll let y’all 🙂 know what I think of the clinic. It might be a good resource for anyone that is close to Chapel Hill, NC. We have so few places like that to go to. I would like to learn more about clearing my lungs. There are times when they feel “full” and I know from reading these posts that there are exercises that we can learn to help clear some of that. Maybe I’ll learn more about that tomorrow too. I’ll let you know. Janet

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Its hard to know if the amount of phem is from the infection or just trapped mucus from scarring (broncheitasis). After the infection clears , you’ll have a better idea what condition of your lungs are in. I dont feel I’ve had much change in the amount of mucus in the last 4 yrs. Perhaps it’s because I havent had any colds, infections, etc to make anything worse. I think my case is rather mild since I never had childhood lung infection all my life. I was perfectly healthy until I contracted MAC. Unfortunately if I was diagnosed emmediatly I would probably have no issues.

REPLY
@justjanet

Kay,
My bronch. is in the lingula and right middle lobe and my MAC (nodules)is in right middle lobe and posterior left lower lobe. I wasn’t told much by my doctor at Duke. But, when they were wheeling me in for the bronchoscopy she said “well, you must not have it very bad if you can’t cough up a sample on your own”. That was just another reason I knew I needed to switch Dr’s. I probably don’t have a severe case now. But, whether a person can cough up sputum on their own or not has nothing to do with the severity of their disease. Even I know that much from my research. So ixnay on that doc :). Luckily I found another. Tomorrow I have several appts at UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. They also specialize in the treatment of NTM’s. I think they will be able to give me much better answers on how I should proceed. I may not need treatment yet as my symptoms aren’t bad – lack of appetite is the worst of them. But, I have lots of questions and it will be nice to talk to someone I trust knows a lot about this. I’ll let y’all 🙂 know what I think of the clinic. It might be a good resource for anyone that is close to Chapel Hill, NC. We have so few places like that to go to. I would like to learn more about clearing my lungs. There are times when they feel “full” and I know from reading these posts that there are exercises that we can learn to help clear some of that. Maybe I’ll learn more about that tomorrow too. I’ll let you know. Janet

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That seems pretty typical. After a while, you won”t be so sensitive to laughing, talking, etc. Sometimes when I talked too much, Id start coughing. Your lung tissue seems to get stronger and heartier in time. Maybe keep water or cough drops. Also try supplements that help your energy level, B-12, vegetable smoothies, avoid sugars.

REPLY
@justjanet

Kay,
My bronch. is in the lingula and right middle lobe and my MAC (nodules)is in right middle lobe and posterior left lower lobe. I wasn’t told much by my doctor at Duke. But, when they were wheeling me in for the bronchoscopy she said “well, you must not have it very bad if you can’t cough up a sample on your own”. That was just another reason I knew I needed to switch Dr’s. I probably don’t have a severe case now. But, whether a person can cough up sputum on their own or not has nothing to do with the severity of their disease. Even I know that much from my research. So ixnay on that doc :). Luckily I found another. Tomorrow I have several appts at UNC Center for Bronchiectasis Care. They also specialize in the treatment of NTM’s. I think they will be able to give me much better answers on how I should proceed. I may not need treatment yet as my symptoms aren’t bad – lack of appetite is the worst of them. But, I have lots of questions and it will be nice to talk to someone I trust knows a lot about this. I’ll let y’all 🙂 know what I think of the clinic. It might be a good resource for anyone that is close to Chapel Hill, NC. We have so few places like that to go to. I would like to learn more about clearing my lungs. There are times when they feel “full” and I know from reading these posts that there are exercises that we can learn to help clear some of that. Maybe I’ll learn more about that tomorrow too. I’ll let you know. Janet

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Thank you for your support and information. I actually had B-12 shots once a week for four weeks this summer and am on a daily supplement now. But avoiding sugar is new to me. I’ll do that. I can feel / see the correlation between those sweets that we pick on at school followed by a quick drop in energy after.

I drink one Boost a day. A friend has a recipe for a vegetable smoothie which I will get Monday.

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@kwilbur

There is always a solution isn’t there? My best time is afternoon when I really have to clear my lungs. I will try.

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Paula, you don’t feel tired with the MAC or the meds?  I ‘m tired all the time and shortness of breath before I was diagnosed.  I’m on my 3 months meds I still get tired easily, my shortness of breath is not as bad as it used to be.  I have bronchiectasis and acid reflux.  I think my immune system is not strong enough to fight infection.  Maybe if I get enough sleep and rest I will feel better.  I try not to think about it and do the best I can to be healthy.  I’m happy I found this forum, you are nice and very supportive. Thank you so much.  Cila

REPLY
@kwilbur

Thank you so much for your positiveness. I have not been officially diagnosed with this bacteria but my chest scans are showing indications. My doctor, who I trust and regard highly, has recommended chest scans every three months. When it comes time he will cleanse my lungs, as I understand with a saline solution and begin antibiotics. What concerns me so much is that I am told I will not be able to work for 16 months. I am on my own and have worked as a teacher at the same school for 31 years! And, yes, I love the kids. It makes me so sad to think I will have to stop – also risking losing my house.

This is the first time I have seen a site where other people talk about their experiences. I am sixty-four and am also working with a very proactive internist to help me through the weakness and weight loss.

Well, I guess this is the beginning of my journey. And I WILL keep educating myself. Very best, Kathryn

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Hi Kathryn,
Its good that you have found this forum. Lilian suggest bronchoscopy, I did have that just to make sure I have the MAC and I did CT Scan. Shows I have the MAC and Bronchiectasis. I was upset and felt alone b/c nobody knows about MAC, even my own PCP didn’t know much about it. This forum help me so much and the support of everyone. I will pray for you and hope you can tolerate the meds.
We are all here for you. Cila.

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