THE ASTHMA ATTACK THAT SAVED MY LIFE
Alyce Terry-Anderson wasnt born with asthma. Her breathing problems started later in life and were complicated by a horrific attack that began when her kitchen filled with smoke after a pot holder caught on fire.
I started coughing because of all of the smoke in the house, and I just couldnt stop, commented Alyce. I finally went and saw my care provider; when I walked into his office my oxygen saturation was at 77%, when normal saturation should be closer to 93% or above. He couldnt believe that I was still walking around! Alyce was immediately put on oxygen and referred to the Pulmonary Rehabilitation program at St. Johns Lutheran Hospital.
When Alyce first heard about the program she was interested in it, but wasnt sure that it was going to work for her. I was in the worst shape ever and I was dragging an oxygen tank around, but still I hesitated to get started. I guess years in my shape didnt give me much hope for change in the future. Then one day I just got determined to lose the tank and the weight and I decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose? commented Alyce.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a 36-session course that meets twice a week and is designed to provide comprehensive care to individuals with pulmonary disease including, but not limited to emphysema, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, asbestos related disease, and alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency. Once enrolled in the program, participants work with a team of pulmonary rehab specialists including a medical director, nurses, respiratory therapists, and dieticians to create a program that will be the most effective for the individual. We set realistic goals with the patient in order to get them started on their way to better health and improved quality of life, stated Elisabeth Erickson, RN, and Pulmonary Rehab Coordinator at St. Johns. In addition to that, we offer weekly education classes on a variety of topics including anatomy and physiology of cardiac/respiratory systems, pulmonary medications, lung diseases, conserving energy, stress and depression, sleep apnea, nutrition, advanced directives, and fitness. We recently added a testimonial class to this schedule so that our current patients can see a real life glimpse of the benefits of pulmonary rehab.
When Alyce started the program she weighed approximately 248 lbs, and laughs that she was in no shape at all! Her goals for the program were to get off of her oxygen and strengthen her body so that her breathing would get easier.
For many graduates, Alyce included, this program has been able to control and alleviate symptoms, improve energy and the ability to perform daily activities, increase exercise tolerance, decrease anxiety and depression commonly associated with pulmonary disease, maximize lung function, improve lifestyle by weight loss and smoking cessation, and increase their circle of friends to include others who share the same symptoms, continued Erickson
It took Alyce two times through the program to get to where she wanted to be, but with hard work, determination, and the support of the Pulmonary Rehab staff, her class mates, and her daughter, Alyce met her goals. When I started Pulmonary Rehab in May of 2011, I couldnt even go 30 seconds on the treadmill without stopping. Now I can go for 30 minutes or more, stated Alyce. Over the course of a year I lost 2 dress sizes, 1 inch around my waste, 32 total pounds, and my oxygen tank! I am off oxygen nowfor good!
Alyce has worked hard to keep up her new healthy lifestyle so that she never has to be on oxygen again. This program is a great place to start getting your life back, but youve got to keep it up when you graduate. Now, I workout every day at the Montana Athletic Club. I ride the stationary bike, walk on the treadmill, and use the other machines while Im there.
Since I started the program, my friends and family have noticed that I have more color and that my balance is much better. I no longer need help getting into the mental health van when they come to pick me up. They used to have to push me into the van, and now I do it by myself with no problem at all!
Alyce feels that she owes all of these positive changes in her life to the Pulmonary Rehab Department. I would never have started to exercise and help myself on my own. I enjoyed Liz and Linda, the ladies who run the program, so much. They are so good to everybody, and they even listened to me whine all of the time! They are just wonderful people. Im fortunate to have my life back.