Bill Curtis - Midland, MI
"Pulmonary rehab was a big plus for me -- I learned that I can help myself and breathe easier."
Maintaining Rehab Keeps Bill Curtis Moving and Breathing Easier
In 2003, Bill Curtis began pulmonary rehabilitation at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland. At the time, he was the 13th patient to start the program. Eight years, and more than 270 patients later, he still uses the facilities and breathes easier because of it.
Pulmonologist Subramanyam Yadam, M.D., initially prescribed pulmonary rehab for Bill. “It was a big plus for me,” he said. “I learned that I can help myself and breathe easier.” He added not all patients continue with a maintenance program. “Dr. Yadam wanted me to go and I definitely feel it has helped. I’m in better shape because of it.”
Bill has emphysema and while pulmonary rehab cannot cure lung disease, it did help him gain control of his breathing and improve his overall strength and stamina.
“They started out with classroom instruction and lots of one-on-one help,” Bill said. “They taught me how to breathe so every breath counts. In my case, I didn’t exhale enough carbon dioxide so I needed to concentrate on that. First I smell the roses, and then I blow out the candles and try to blow out more than I took in.”
After the classroom instruction they introduced the exercise portion. Bill started pulmonary rehab by working on a treadmill and bike along with using weights and doing flexibility exercises. “My goal was to build lung capacity and muscle,” he said. “When I first started pulmonary rehab I called the treadmill the ‘dreadmill’ but that didn’t last. The staff there is just great. They are always happy to see me and made me feel welcome so I didn’t dread going there. In fact, I think the way they treated me was a big part of my success.”
After eight years, joint issues and hernias have caused him to modify, but not abandon, his routine. “I still use the treadmill – it’s not the dreadmill anymore,” Bill laughed. He feels comfortable at the Campus Ridge facility. “They have good supervision there and I’ve never had a problem. When I check in, they take my blood pressure and measure my oxygen level. When I check out, they re-measure both.”
Pulmonary rehab held an unexpected bonus for Bill – he developed a strong friendship with Jim, another patient. Bill explained that Jim had been approved for a lung transplant but other health issues surfaced and made him ineligible. “Even then, he kept a positive attitude and it sort of rubbed off on me,” Bill said. Sadly, Jim passed away but Bill keeps his memory alive by maintaining that positive attitude hoping it rubs off on someone else. “My goal is to enjoy life as much as possible and pulmonary rehab has helped me do that.”
Pulmonary rehabilitation can help you live your best life, even after a pulmonary diagnosis.
While treatment results can vary by patient and condition severity, this program is designed to reduce the physical and emotional impact of chronic lung diseases and maximize each patient's breathing capacity.
If you have been diagnosed with a lung condition or are perhaps on home oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation may help you return to an active life. To learn more about pulmonary rehabilitation services available through MidMichigan Health, visit www.midmichigan.org/pulmonary. For referral to a physician who specializes in lung conditions, please call MidMichigan Health Line at (800) 999-3199.