“A huge breath of fresh air”

Sabina Saburova Glaspie struggled to breathe for years—until she found USFHP and PacMed

Over six years and across three military bases on two continents, Sabina Saburova Glaspie—mother of two and a legal assistant for the U.S. Department of Justice—struggled to take in air.

After jogging, she says, “I would not be able to breathe.” Others noticed as well. Her husband, friends and even strangers would ask, “Is everything okay, while you’re breathing like that?” “This has been bothering me for so many years,” Sabina says. “Nobody listened to me, that it’s a nose issue. Nothing else.”

Sabina had a sense of what her problem was, but the many doctors she consulted all prescribed the same thing: asthma medications that didn’t help.

That was until her husband, Brandon Glaspie, transferred to serve as a Staff Sergeant at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The family opted into the US Family Health Plan (USFHP), a TRICARE Prime managed care option for active-duty military families in the Puget Sound area.

This allowed the family to visit the medical team at PacMed.

Sabina started with a virtual consultation, then a visit to PacMed’s Ear, Nose and Throat team (also called otolaryngology). She was nervous at first, due to COVID-19, but “I saw a lady wiping down the elevator button, so that was very, you know, reassuring.”

Her primary care physician, Dr. Alexander Park, referred her to otolaryngologist Dr. Michael Wolfe, who diagnosed the problem correctly (a crooked septum—a normal genetic variation). He then referred her to surgeon Dr. Michael Lamperti—all in the same office. Sabina calls her care team “Awesome… very upfront and honest.”

After clearing a COVID-19 test, Sabina’s surgery went smoothly. She had heard that patients bruise up or develop bags under their eyes after similar procedures, but “I didn’t have any of that,” she says. “I had a great experience…. The people around me can’t even tell that I had something.”

Asked what she would tell other patients, Sabina says, “With COVID, I think a lot of people are scared. I know I was…. It was a big, scary moment for me, going to the hospital and under anesthesia for the first time. But the doctors talked me through it, and I had to have some faith in them. In the end, they actually, you know, trained to do this. I should be able to trust them, and I had a great outcome.”

Just a few weeks out from surgery, Sabina is still healing up, but she already feels some relief. “It was, literally, such a relief to get that off my shoulders. Somebody believes me—you actually got listened to. That was very helpful that somebody’s actually paying attention to, you know, to my health, with me, and being a little more proactive.”

Sabina expects even more relief when the swelling goes down. “I can imagine that it would be just a huge breath of fresh air.”