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Patient Stories:Jim Brody
For Jim Brody, now 59, one thing seemed to lead to another. Inactive, overweight, and a smoker, Jim’s leg went numb from the knee down. He underwent a five-hour surgery to bypass the blocked artery, but during rehab his blood oxygen levels were dangerously low. He was put on oxygen and sent to a pulmonologist at UCONN Health Center who diagnosed him with Emphysema, also known as COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. That’s where his doctor told him of the Hospital for Special Care’s (HSC) Pulmonary Rehabilitation and COPD Disease Management Program.
Before starting at HSC in May of 2014, Jim was very restricted in what he could do without needing to rest and catch his breath. Grocery shopping was almost too difficult because of how tired he would get. He even noticed that he would be out-of-breath just walking down the hallways at HSC at the start of the Pulmonary Rehab Program.
While enrolled in HSC’s Pulmonary Rehab Program, Jim made incredible improvements. He was able to exercise, strengthen his muscles and improve his breathing. He learned about the disease in order to self-manage his condition for when he was discharged. “This program encompasses much more than what a doctor would tell you,’ he said. It really helped me learn all about my disease, how to live with it and slow its progression.”
Jim is now a nonsmoker and lost over 30 pounds in nine months. He maintains a workout schedule most people would envy: fifty minutes of aerobics followed by fifty minutes of muscle-strengthening exercises five days a week. “Aerobics improves the lungs while stronger muscles use oxygen more efficiently thereby requiring less for the same activity,’ he says. It all adds up to being able to do more. ‘The program was a godsend. When you can’t catch your breath, you can’t do very much.”
From the start, Jim’s multidisciplinary team of therapists stressed the importance of having an exercise plan so that he would not lose what he gained during the program. Working with the multidisciplinary team for seven weeks taught him how he could make an impact on the quality and longevity of his life. Jim took this to heart.
When he did graduate from the program, Jim needed to continue to work in a handicap-friendly fitness environment to reduce the risk of relapse and continue to make gains. He applied for the Energy Independence Fund at HSC and received reimbursement for his utility bills in order to pay for membership at the HSC Aquatics Center, where he continues as a member to this day.
The COPD Disease Management team still follows Jim’s progress and disease state and will throughout his lifetime. “Through these programs we are seeing significant reductions in relapse and hospital readmissions in our patients like Jim who are committed to staying active. Jim is a great example of how pulmonary rehabilitation can help change lives,” said Stephanie Alderman, CRT, Outpatient Respiratory Therapist at HSC.
Jim has maintained his new found independence, has more energy and a much improved outlook. He continues to visit friends that he made during his surgical rehab and belongs to an HSC COPD support group. Jim has made great progress on the road back to health. He has a new outlook, having taken control of both his disease and his life. Though he knows COPD isn’t reversible, he also knows that he can slow its progression by staying active.
“Stephanie, Elyse and everyone involved in the HSC pulmonary programs have my utmost gratitude,” Jim said “They educated and provided me the tools and environment I need to get back my life!”