Allison Perry

COPD Patient Returns to Active Lifestyle Thanks to Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Published: Apr 18, 2014

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 18, 2014) -- In the waiting room at UK HealthCare's Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic sits a large binder labeled "Success Stories." Inside are pages and pages of testimony from patients who discovered a renewed quality of life as a result of their experience. "I can walk through the mall with my grandkids again," reads one.  "Most important thing I've ever done," declares another.

 

But certain words appear repeatedly throughout: encouragement, support, compassion, welcoming. It's evident that these patients adore the staff that helps them breathe more fully again.

 

Mike Graham, 53, of Harrodsburg, hopes to add his testimony to the binder soon.

 

A life-long scuba diver, Graham was making a dive in Findlay, Ohio, last year when suddenly he could not catch his breath. "I panicked," he recalls.  "At first I thought my tank was bad, but when I got back to the surface and still couldn't catch my breath, I knew something was wrong." His primary care physician diagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD; a visit to UK in December confirmed the diagnosis. Graham was put on an inhaler to reduce airway constriction and referred to UK's pulmonary rehab program.

 

 

Just nine weeks in, Graham already delights in the return to many of his beloved activities. A self-described gentleman farmer, Graham has always shared an emotional bond with his cattle. "They're my kids," he says. Before he began his treatment, Graham couldn't climb a flight of stairs without losing his breath.  "I can play with my kids again," he says with a twinkle. "A walk to their pasture used to be out of the question, but now I get to give them their 'sweet feed' treats of molasses and ground corn every morning."

 

COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or non-reversible asthma. The disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness, frequent coughing, wheezing, and/or tightness in the chest. COPD is the No. 3 killer in Kentucky and the No. 5 killer for all Americans.  It affects an estimated 24 million individuals in the U.S.

 

"Perhaps the cruelest aspect of COPD is that it is initially a silent disease, developing for years without noticeable shortness of breath," says Dr. John McCormick, director of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at UK.  "Often, by the time the patient comes to us, the disease has already seriously compromised lung function, medications are less effective in controlling symptoms and patients become reliant on supplemental oxygen, all of which reduces a patient's quality of life hugely."

 

However, Dr. McCormick explains, pulmonary rehab can be the lifeline that returns sufferers to a fuller life.  The magic comes in the form of an interdisciplinary team of pulmonologists, nurses, exercise physiologists, dietitians and lifestyle therapists -- also known as Beth Cundiff, Nancy Kessler, Jacob Stone, Craig Staub, Heather Leger and Audrey Darville.

 

Through exercise training, psychosocial support, and education, this team helps patients restore strength and endurance, reduce disease symptoms, self-manage common complications and know when to call for help. Patients who complete the program also often report fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are commonly associated with chronic lung diseases. And, says Dr. McCormick, because it's been demonstrated that patients who participate in such programs actually end up needing less "health care" in the long run, COPD becomes less of a financial burden for those patients, particularly since many health insurance plans cover pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

 

"If it weren't for these people, the program would just be a roomful of machines," Graham says, counting names off using his fingers. Craig and Jake encourage me with my training and constantly monitor my heart rate and oxygen levels, which allows me to train as hard as possible without worry.  Dr. McCormick and Beth taught me about how the lungs work, which really helped me understand my COPD. And Audrey helped me leave my 35 year smoking habit behind."

 

"I could go on and on," he says with a smile.  "Absolutely everyone here contributes to my learning in a powerful way."

 

And that, Dr. McCormick says, is precisely the point.

 

"Exercise is, of course, an essential component of the program," he says.  "But our patient care team goes beyond the basics by facilitating therapeutic support among participants, their family members and friends and creating a milieu where patients encourage and learn from each other."  

 

On any given day in the clinic, there are patients on treadmills, bicycles, elliptical machines, or lifting weights. Some are on supplemental oxygen, and all of them wear equipment that monitors pulse, blood pressure and oxygen levels while they work out. Exercise physiologists crisscross the room, checking on patients and offering advice and encouragement.

 

Behind the exercise area is a classroom where knowledgeable clinic staff teach participants about the disease process, share breathing and other relaxation techniques, offer nutritional advice, and facilitate idea sharing and troubleshooting among members of the group.

 

There are even field trips -- Graham tells how dietitian Heather Leger took a group of patients to a local grocery store for a hands-on tutorial on reading nutrition labels and making healthy food choices.

 

"This has been an amazing process of discovery," Graham says. "I've learned so much about my COPD and how to live a full life in spite of it.  If I can help just one other person by sharing what I've learned, it will be worth the effort." To that end, Graham has volunteered for a program with the National COPD Foundation that will pair newly-diagnosed sufferers with mentors like Graham who can offer advice and encouragement.

 

"And," he says, "I'm already hounding my brother, my sister, and two of my diver friends to quit smoking."

 

Those diver friends in particular are taking notice.  Graham returned to scuba diving last week at the same quarry in Findlay, Ohio, where he first realized that something was terribly wrong.

 

"I took basically the same dive," he says. "And when I got to the spot where I panicked last time, I paused for a moment, smiled and gave my diving buddy the 'OK' sign, and then kept on going."

 

 

 

 

pulmonary_rehab_team_branded.jpgmike_graham_pulmonary_rehab_2.jpegmike_graham_pulmonary_rehab.jpeg
March
1
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
2
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Resume & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
3
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Grad Salute
2nd Annual UK Work-Life Summer Camps Fair
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Keeping Your Brain Healthy
Successful Networking & Job Search
Guest Lecture
Documentary Screening: "Forgotten Wars, Forgotten Victims"
Bangladeshi Garment Worker Speak Out
A Reading by Nic Brown
CatWatch Party #3
Tue
4
LNFS Presents: The Mighty Ducks
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
OUTspoken with J Mase III
Appalachian Forum with Crystal Wilkinson entitled: Birds of Opulence: Black Women, Madness, and Resilience in Appalachia
Wed
5
LNFS Presents: Typeface
LNFS Presents: Space Jam
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Food for Hope
Thu
6
LNFS Presents: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
LNFS Presents: Pokémon: The First Movie
Cultural Coffee Hour
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Japan Today
Holi: The Indian Festival of Colors
Fri
7
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Graduate & Professional School Prep:KAPLAN Free Practice Test for MCAT and LSAT
PharmD Open House
Sat
8
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
9
Midterm of 2015 Spring Semester
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
GUEST LECTURE
Appalachian Forum with Rebecca Klenk, Topic: Global Uttarakhand: Development, Neoliberalism and Social Justice in Himalayan India
Ballroom Thieves
Mon
10
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: Staying Positive During A Job Search
Massage on the Go #2
Tue
11
LNFS Presents: Only Lovers Left Alive
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Leadership Assessment
#TrendingTopics: Immunization
True Songs
Wed
12
LNFS Presents: Into the Woods
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
LNFS Presents: Waiting for 'Superman'
Thu
13
LNFS Presents: Vertigo
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
LNFS Presents: Trainspotting
Fri
14
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
15
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
16
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Mon
17
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
18
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wed
19
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Thu
20
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Plating Design Demonstration with Dan Wu
Fri
21
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
22
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
23
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
"Thrive: The Kentucky Wine Tradition" Documentary Screening
Mon
24
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: A Snapshot of the Central Kentucky Labor Market
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Kentucky Teacher's Network Career Fair
Tue
25
LNFS Presents: Rear Window
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Virtual Dementia Tour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Women of the World: Rosario Dawson
Wed
26
LNFS Presents: The Imitation Game
LNFS Presents: Blade Runner
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Student & Employer Mixer
Young Artists Exhibit Reception
Thu
27
LNFS Presents: Psycho
LNFS Presents: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Fri
28
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
29
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Lion King Trip
Sun
30
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Mon
31
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
 
 
 
 

Repeats every week until Thu Apr 30 2015 except Mon Mar 16 2015.
Mon, 03/02/2015

Mon, 03/02/2015

Repeats every week until Thu Apr 30 2015 except Tue Mar 17 2015.
Tue, 03/03/2015

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday and on the first Sunday until Sun Apr 12 2015 except Mon Jan 12 2015, Mon Jan 26 2015, Mon Feb 02 2015, Mon Feb 09 2015, Mon Feb 16 2015, Mon Feb 23 2015, Mon Mar 02 2015, Mon Mar 09 2015, Mon Mar 16 2015, Mon Mar 23 2015, Mon Mar 30 2015, Mon Apr 06 2015.
Tue, 03/03/2015

Repeats every day until Sun Apr 12 2015 except Mon Feb 02 2015, Mon Feb 09 2015, Mon Feb 09 2015, Mon Feb 16 2015, Mon Feb 23 2015, Mon Mar 02 2015, Mon Mar 09 2015, Mon Mar 16 2015, Mon Mar 23 2015, Mon Mar 30 2015, Mon Apr 06 2015.
Tue, 03/03/2015

Reset Page