Sunday, February 7, 2016
Nancy Burgess lost the left upper lobe of her lung due to cancer in November, 2013. Although there were some complications during and after surgery, she didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. Nancy had smoked since she was 15, and she quit cold turkey at 61, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Nancy is a strong and determined person. Her physician recommended the Pulmonary Rehabilitation program at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital as a way to get in better shape and to learn how to keep it. When people have a difficult time breathing, it’s easy to either do a great deal less or spend too much time on the couch. Pulmonary Rehab gets people up and moving, while under medical supervision.
Enter Heather Nelson, Respiratory Therapist and another strong and determined person! She has breathed new life into the Respiratory Therapy program at NVRH. Pulmonary Rehabilitation is an exercise and education program for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis or other respiratory problems. The program meets 3 times weekly, Monday and Wednesdays from 2:30-3:30 and Fridays from 2-2:30 for education and 2:30-3:30 for exercise; each class runs for a total of 10 weeks.
The group setting encourages people to meet and share challenges and successes. A physical therapist is at each session, as well as Heather. Participants work on the upper body ergometer (arm rower), the stationary bike, rowing machine and treadmill. Light weights are included as well as stretching exercises. Topics include managing stress and depression, healthy eating and nutrition, avoiding illness that will make breathing more difficult, general information about COPD and medications and how to improve the overall quality of life. Each person receives a workbook with exercises and educational tips.
Nancy is one of Heather’s prize pupils, arriving at class with determination and a positive attitude. As for Nancy, Pulmonary Rehabilitation has helped her in many ways. To prove it, she popped up from the sofa as she spoke, stating that she couldn’t have done that without putting her hand on her thigh for support. She and her husband built a house on Joe’s pond this summer; she hauled lumber, painted and created an artistic masterpiece for her bedroom floor. She really feels that by doing more in class, the better she felt. “People should take advantage of the professional care, knowledge, equipment and relationships – the class really works,” said Nancy.
Nancy didn’t stop exercising after her ten weeks of Pulmonary Rehab were completed. She has the Chuck Norris total gym at home, which she loves.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation requires a healthcare provider referral. If you have questions about the class, please contact Heather Nelson at 748-7511.