@ann0616 Hi Ann –
Everyone on this site has had a different experience, and is ill or well to a different degree. Here is my story
I was diagnosed due to a severe lingering case of pneumonia & cough that were originally treated as uncontrolled asthma, a chest x-ray showed "something suspicious" and the follow-up CT confirmed bronchiectasis & showed spots. The sputum cultures (taken by me as you described) showed first pseudomonas, then MAC. Based on how long I was ill, this had probably been growing for about 2 years – I was basically existing on the sofa, and coughing all day & night for over 6 months.
My daughter (under 40) was suffering from repeated sinus infections & intractable asthma exacerbations – when her docs heard about her Dad & me both having bronchiectasis, she was tested & also has it. (So did my Mom, and I have a brother with it.) She is otherwise healthy & strong – a fitness & adventure "junkie" – but all her life, a simple cold has been a gateway to weeks, if not months, of coughing & illness. Which describes both Mom & me to a T. My husband is asymptomatic & feels fine as long as he uses his long-acting inhaler. The doc believes his bronch is from rheumatoid arthritis. Our University is now studying her & will be looking at the rest of us, trying to find a genetic link.
I am heading into month 8 of the "big 3" antibiotics, and other than side effects from those and fatigue, and periodic shortness of breath, feel fine much of the time. As soon as I get the "elephant on my chest" feeling, I step up my breathing treatments & try to get extra rest. Based on my Mom's experience, I expect this will gradually get worse, but she lived to 84 and died of something else, so I just keep "living my life."