Mary Trumbell - Midland, MI
"When I went to rehab, the clouds parted and the light came down. It let the light back in."
After Pulmonary Rehabilitation, She Can Live Life Again
“I can’t begin to tell you the difference pulmonary rehabilitation has made in my life,” said Mary Trumbell. Once nearly placed on a respirator during hospitalization for pulmonary fibrosis, the Midland woman no longer needs supplemental oxygen during the day. She works out, practices tai-chi and volunteers at a local food pantry.
As far back as 2005, Mary remembers being exhausted. “Everything I did was an effort. I just had no energy, none at all,” she said. In 2007, she was in and out of the hospital for six months and retired from her work as an assistant in a Midland special education classroom.
Mary could not push air into her lungs on her own. “At that time, they told me I had three to five years to live and would always be on oxygen,” she said. “It was so much hassle. I didn’t feel like making the effort. I quit wearing makeup and was resigned to my fate.”
One day, a visiting nurse suggested she consider pulmonary rehabilitation. “I told him I didn’t know how to do it and didn’t want to bother,” she said. “I was pretty low.” He made the call for her. After speaking with Respiratory Therapist Jackie Evans, R.R.T., the program’s coordinator, Mary decided to give it a try.
“The education portion appealed to me,” she said. “I learned what oxygen is and how to get the most out of every breath to enable my body to function better.” The 12-week program also included exercise training.
In a class of three people, a typical number for the program, each had a personal therapist. “They would monitor everything we did and take vital signs,” Mary said. “They were very encouraging and aware of how you were doing physically.”
The social aspect of the class was an added benefit and a vital part of the program’s success. “I didn’t go there to make friends or to be nice. I just expected to do what I had to do and get out,” she said, “but I found that I have made friends. The people are a joy to be around. They lift my spirits and get my quirky humor.” She also believes faith and perseverance played an important role in her success.
New activities enabled by rehab brought their own gains. Mary continues to work out, and she practices tai-chi for better balance and range of motion. “My shoulders were kind of locked up, and I used to be terrified of reaching things in the cupboard. Now it’s no problem,” she said.
She is also grateful to be off supplemental oxygen during the day. “The tank was like an anchor. There never was heard an encouraging word and the skies were cloudy all day,” she joked.
“When I went to rehab, the clouds parted and the light came down. It let the light back in. Anyone considering it should make the call and find out about it. It will help you put your illness in perspective and benefit you in ways that you’ll never know.”
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 on oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation may help you return to an active life. To learn more about pulmonary rehabilitation services available through MyMichigan Health, visit www.mymichigan.org/pulmonary. For referral to a physician who specializes in lung conditions, please call MyMichigan Health Line at (800) 999-3199.