Retired Midland PE teacher, avid swimmer and pulmonary rehab patient
“Some people with breathing problems are afraid to do anything, but they shouldn’t be. Pulmonary rehab works. I wouldn’t be here today without it.”
Veronica Greason is Swimming Gracefully, Breathing Easier
While many people are just starting their day at 7 a.m., Veronica Greason of Midland is already swimming laps in the Midland Community Center leisure pool.
Veronica, who has arthritis, scleroderma and pulmonary hypertension – and uses oxygen round-the-clock – is determined to keep moving so she can breathe easier. Even dependence on a tank of oxygen will not keep her out of the pool.
“I have a 50-foot hose on my oxygen tank so I lay the tank down in a corner and swim laps for 30 minutes,” Veronica said. “It’s so nice that we have a pool close by, and I swim early so I don’t interrupt anyone.”
Seventy-nine year old Veronica was diagnosed with scleroderma in 1994. She started feeling short of breath a couple of years later. It wasn’t until 2002 that Veronica found out she had pulmonary hypertension. “The scleroderma caused the pulmonary hypertension and the condition caused the right side of my heart to become enlarged,” she said. Medications helped her heart recover; oxygen, exercise and pulmonary rehab helped stabilize the pulmonary hypertension.
“I’ve been going to pulmonary rehab for six years,” Veronica said. “It really helped make my breathing more effective. It was difficult at first because walking wasn’t easy and I had to use the treadmill. It was good for me. Also, like a lot of women, I didn’t have enough upper body strength and the resistance exercises helped me there.”
Through pulmonary rehab, Veronica learned a better way of breathing. “It may sound strange, but most people don’t breathe properly,” she said. “Most people breathe with their chest when they should use the diaphragm. Pulmonary rehab taught me to break the old habit and develop the new habit of diaphragm breathing. They also taught me tricks to deal with becoming short of breath. For instance, “puffing” or exhaling through pursed lips helps when climbing the stairs.”
A retired physical education teacher, Veronica said pulmonary rehab helped her maintain her mobility. “Swimming and exercise have helped, too,” she added. Breathing aids, such as an oxygen concentrator with a 50-foot hose, help her move around in the home she shares with her friend Ethalinda. “She is very helpful,” Veronica said of her friend, adding that because of Ethalinda’s help, they can still travel a bit.
“Some people with breathing problems are afraid to do anything, but they shouldn’t be,” Veronica said. “Pulmonary rehab works. I wouldn’t be here today without it.”
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 and are perhaps on home oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation may help you return to an active life. To learn more about Pulmonary Rehab 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.