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Pulmonary Rehabilitation Patient Stories

Get inspired by Good Samaritan Hospital (GSH) Pulmonary Rehabilitation patient stories.

Richard Ewing: Every Breath He Takes

“To get a sense of what it’s like to have a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), try breathing through one of those little, hollow coffee stirrers,” says Betty Rudy, CRTT, RCP, respiratory therapist at Samaritan North’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center. “People with COPD never get enough air. They’re always struggling just to breathe. That alone is such an effort for them that the have no energy left for even the simplest things, like getting dressed—not to mention going to work or taking part in family activities.

“COPD patients are caught in a vicious cycle,” Rudy continues. “The harder they work to breathe, the less active they become. The less active they become, the harder it is for them to summon the energy and muscle strength that breathing requires.”

Fifty-two-year-old Richard Ewing, a retired machinist, knows all about that vicious cycle. When Richard’s pulmonologist, Rajesh Patel, MD, referred him to Samaritan North’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center, he wasn’t able to walk for six minutes without resting twice.

“After Richard completed our eight-week, two-day-a-week program in mid-September, he could walk for six minutes with no rest,” says Karen Smith, RN, team leader. “And he also walked 100 feet farther than he had in his initial evaluation.”

Richard has since moved on to the center’s twice weekly maintenance program.

“Pulmonary rehabilitation doesn’t change the mechanics of lung function for someone like Richard,” explains Dr. Patel, “but it does help him function better in daily living.”

And, it helps him have more fun. “I can take my grandchildren on outings now,” says Richard, “even to amusement parks.”

Richard is also pleased that he can work in his house and yard again. “I hadn’t mowed the lawn myself since 1999! I couldn’t even stand at the sink to wash dishes. Now I’m washing windows, vacuuming, dusting—and mowing the lawn.”

“A few years ago, I just took my health for granted. Today, I’m grateful for every breath I take. Thanks to the good people at Samaritan North, my whole attitude—and way of life—has changed.”

Source: Samaritan HealthTalk Fall 2003