Mary Faber - Sanford, MI
"I discovered pulmonary rehab and it saved my life. I am actually healthier now in my 80s than I was in my 60s."
She Learned to Breathe Again
“I had no idea I had COPD!” said Mary Faber. The 82-year-old Sanford woman was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) while in the hospital with pneumonia in 2004. That further challenge to her breathing put Mary on supplemental oxygen.
“At the hospital, they said there was nothing more they could do for me and sent me home with an oxygen tank,” said Mary. “I was very upset. Then I discovered pulmonary rehab and it saved my life. I am actually healthier now in my 80s than I was in my 60s.”
Before she became ill, Mary’s ability to breathe had been declining for some time. She tried to continue with housework, the family travel she enjoyed and the huge garden that she and her husband, George, had developed, but her pace became slower and slower. “I would work for five minutes and then have to sit down. I knew there was something wrong,” she said.
Mary began working with Pulmonologist Subramanyam Yadam, M.D. After testing her lung function and prescribing medications that began to help, he suggested she talk to Jackie Evans, R.R.T., about the pulmonary rehabilitation program at MidMichigan Medical Center– Midland.
In the program, Mary learned techniques for breathing and exercises for strength and flexibility. Even the technician at Dr. Yadam’s office told her, “You really know how to do that breathing.” “Yes,” she said. “I was taught how to do it properly.” The comprehensive program also covered eating right and self-management techniques for COPD.
The small group of patients each had a therapist for individualized therapy and care. Mary began to feel in charge of her breathing, instead of feeling like lung disease controlled her life. “I can’t say enough about Jackie and the whole program,” she said.
After the 12-week program, she began exercising regularly at the fitness center at Campus Ridge 1. When George became ill with cancer and died in December of 2005, the strength that she had developed helped her cope. “Somehow you get through it,” she said. “I never stopped exercising. I went to the gym. I kept going.”
At the end of 2009, Mary had a partial knee replacement. “I went to Joint Camp after the surgery, and it was fantastic,” she said. “Now I’m in rehab for my knee and recovering well, which I attribute to exercise. I can’t wait to get back to my regular routine.”
Once back to normal, Mary expects to continue the traveling she enjoyed for decades. “There are beautiful spots on this earth that everyone should see,” she said. “I love the drive from Phoenix to Tucson when the wildflowers are all in blossom; and the Pacific Coast in California and Oregon is breathtaking.”
Fortunately, thanks to pulmonary rehabilitation, Mary can enjoy breathtaking sights with ease next time nature’s beauty takes her by surprise.
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.
Pulmonary rehabilitation can help you live your best life, even after a pulmonary diagnosis.
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 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.