The Top 10 Things Pulmonary Rehabilitation Did For Me
This PRAXIS Nexus post was authored by Ken W., an active member of our COPD360social community who was diagnosed with COPD in 2010. He is married, has two grown children and nine grandchildren, and is an enthusiastic traveler and exerciser. Ken lists nature photography and bird watching – including eagle nest monitoring! – as well as complex cross stitching among his many hobbies. Thanks to Ken for sharing his experience with pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) with our community!
10. Forced me out of the house and into a small group of people with similar challenges.
In 2010, I spent 13 days in the hospital and was then released with O2 24/7. I knew nothing about COPD or O2 options. I also didn’t know if I would ever work again or if I could leave the house for more than an hour or so with a small tank. Being encouraged to travel to PR and the chance to see I was not alone on this journey were extremely helpful to me.
9. Exposed me to the various options for stationary and portable oxygen.
The only thing I knew before PR about supplemental O2 was that I had a concentrator for home use and small tanks for outside the home. PR taught me about options including LOX (liquid oxygen) and POCs (portable oxygen concentrators) as well as the difference between pulse and continuous flow.
8. Helped me to understand the various medications I am on, the dosage and how to properly use an inhaler.
I was sent home on lots of medications but didn’t understand what they were, what each was for or even how to use an inhaler or a nebulizer, all of which was cleared up at PR.
7. Helped me to understand my respiratory system and COPD.
All I knew about COPD was that I couldn’t breathe well. In PR we were taught about all of the elements and impacts of COPD, the differences between asthma and COPD, how smoking impacted our lungs and the advancement of COPD.
6. Taught me how to use pursed lip breathing.
Prior to PR I did not have any idea what pursed lip breathing was or why it could be beneficial. It is a simple process that has great impact and has become second nature to me.
5. Taught me the use and benefits of an oximeter.
I knew very little about an oximeter other than the fact the doctors used them on me frequently in the hospital. PR taught me how to properly use one, what the readings meant and how to monitor my sats, particularly when exercising or being active and how to adjust O2 flow during exercise to remain saturated.
4. Forced me to begin exercise and convinced me I could do it.
In many ways, getting me started on regular exercise was the most important part of PR and it led to the things ranked higher on this list. I was not in shape, had never exercised regularly, had gained significant weight in the hospital and desaturated just walking across a room. The last thing in the world I thought I could do was exercise. The patience, the pace, the various types of equipment and seeing others completing the tasks got me to the point of good exercise which had a big effect on how I felt and how active I could be out of PR.
3. Taught me the value of continued daily exercise.
The combination of what I learned at PR and what I felt were obvious benefits of the exercise convinced me that if two or three days per week of exercise was good, then more frequent exercise would be better. So I joined a gym and began a regimen of an hour or more of aerobic exercise at least five days per week with strength conditioning at least three days per week. After a couple of years I invested in home equipment so that I could continue to exercise without the travel and with my home O2. I now exercise essentially everyday with occasional exceptions for very busy days or travel. For example, as of today I have formally exercised for 42 days in a row and on 78 of the 82 days so far this year. I keep a log of my daily exercise on my computer and also track it on a website called the President’s Challenge in order to provide incentive to keep at it – even there are many days I don’t really want to get in there and work out.
2. Gave me confidence to keep living.
Coming out of the hospital I was depressed and ignorant and scared. I didn’t know how to cope with leaving the house and was intimidated wearing oxygen in public. I was too weak to play golf or ride my motorcycle or do the other things I had always done. The entire PR experience gave me confidence that if I committed to exercise and taking my meds as directed, I may be able to regain much of the activity and social life I had enjoyed before diagnosis. It started me on the path to living again.
1. Gave me hope!
I think we are all scared when 1st diagnosed with COPD, particularly if it is at a severe level, which mine was. The natural tendency is to worry about what one cannot do and how quickly the disease may advance rather than taking a more positive look at how to best manage the disease and live a life as close to normal as possible. I was able to return to golf and motorcycle riding, I was able to get off of O2 during the day and in many ways considered my life more normal than not. Even though I am now on O2 24/7, I spend my time on living life rather than dwelling on the negatives. I absolutely believe that I would not be alive today nor would I have been able to do all I have done the past 6 years had it not been for the wonderful people and wonderful PR program at Florida Hospital, Celebration.
This page was reviewed on March 3, 2020 by the COPD Foundation Content Review and Evaluation Committee