Friday, November 6, 2009

The First Time I Did 7% (HTS)

Some of you may be thinking, "wait, 7% of what?". So let me explain...7% saline solution is a pretty new treatment in the CF circles. It's exactly what it sounds like, it's salt water in it's most basic form. They first became curious about this "drug" when they discovered that CF surfers in Australia had much higher lung function then there non-surfing CF counterparts. After years of clinic trials and research, 7% saline solution was born. Some of us refer to it as HTS (Hypertonic Saline) or HyperSal. If you're curious, I currently do two HTS treatments a day, but this post is about my first experience with huffing "salt water".

The first time I ever inhaled 7% was while I was in the hospital more than a couple of years ago. I remember the docs asking me if I had tried it yet and if I wanted to give it a whirl. They also said that it can be quite an experience the first time and recommended that I try 3% which is 7%'s weaker cousin. Being the big old bad man that I am, I of course refused and asked for the big gun. They told me to expect to cough a lot while getting used to it, which I responded to in I'm sure a very smart arse kind of way with, "That's the point isn't it???".

My next treatment came a couple of hours later. After sucking in the albuterol and atrovent it was time for the 7%. Oh. My. Goodness. I seriously thought I was inhaling sand paper. I couldn't take a deep breath without the back of my throat feeling like it was being attacked by the tickle monster. I coughed liked you wouldn't believe. I'm not sure how much of the HTS I actually inhaled because I spent most of the time coughing. I couldn't believe that there was another single CFer in the whole wide world that could stand to do that stuff. I couldn't be defeated though and I tried my hardest to suck that thick salt air deep down into my airbags. I'm not going to compare it to torture, but it surely wasn't Magic Mountain at Disneyland. Needless to say, my first experience with HTS wasn't exactly a pleasant experience.

Fast forward to I said up above, I now do 7% twice a day and tolerate it just fine. It's just something that my lungs (and throat) had to adjust to. I actually didn't start doing it at home until earlier this year and sadly, I must admit, it was because of laziness. Prior to the pre-made capsules that they have now, they were distributing bottles of 7% that I had to access with a syringe and then shoot into my neb cup. After hearing so many fellow CFers swear by HTS and it's ability to improve lung function, I decided to bite the bullet and start doing HTS at home. As luck would have it, they just recently started using HyperSal at my pharmacy which comes in pre-made vials just like Pulmozyme or albuterol. So now I have absolutely NO EXCUSES.

Oh yeah, one more thing on my first experience with 7%. Remember how I told them to just give me the big dog because I was such a big old bad man? Well, after that first 7% treatment I requested that they bring the 3% instead. I just couldn't stand all of the coughing. But wait, that's the point isn't it?????

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