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With NTM, I Live an Every Other Day Life

Meet Christa Warden

When Christa Warden broke her hip in January, her first concern wasn’t impending surgery, it was that she might die if she caught a respiratory infection in the ER.

Since being diagnosed with nontuberculous mycobacteria (after years of misdiagnosis), Christa, who recently turned 70, has gone down the rabbit hole of a debilitating disease with no cure and no specific treatments.

NTM has given her recurring bouts of pneumonia and worsening asthma. The disease forced Christa to retire early from her career as a middle school educator. An energetic and gregarious person by nature, she is now reluctant to go on vacation.

“I live what I call an every other day life,” she says. “When I undertake a physical or social activity, or take care of my grandchildren, I must spend the following day recovering, or I can become seriously ill.”

A shimmering laugh belies the anxiety and depressions Christa feels having a disease that is life-threatening. “Many of us with this disease live on a wing and a prayer,” she says. “We don’t feel confident that we’ll be pulled back from the edge if we have a flare up.”

Because most doctors know little about NTM, Christa believes that medical schools should graduate students “with NTM in their knowledge base.” That knowledge, she believes, will spur desperately needed research for effective treatments. It will also help physicians “be present” for their patients whose world has been turned upside down.

Thank you, Christa, for sharing your story!

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