“Sara Schwarz, MS, RD, LDN, has been so wonderful and supportive in this journey. I was underweight for the first 20 years of my life. Since then, after having my first child at age 20, I’ve been overweight with no motivation to lose weight. My doctor’s warning jumpstarted me into searching out ways to lose weight and that’s how I discovered OPTIFAST®. Every question I have, Sara has an answer for and when she doesn’t, she finds the answer. She is always positive and ready to praise you on the weight loss.”
“Along with the exercise components of the program, I found the educational sessions to be very enlightening, especially for people after having gone through some type of cardiac episode. I’ve stuck with this program for the length of time I have because it provides me with an opportunity for supervised exercise and the staff is so experienced, knowledgeable, can answer any questions I have, and they provide a relationship of trust.”
Michael Ackroyd-Kelly is a familiar face at Nashoba Valley Medical Center’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program. Not only does the 68-year-old live across the street from the hospital, he has also gone through the program several times during the past three years.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a multidisciplinary and comprehensive program that is individually tailored for patients with chronic lung disease or an illness that has affected breathing. The overall goals of the program are to reduce symptoms and re hospitalization, strengthen the lung’s functionality, increase overall quality of life, and improve activities of daily living for participants.
Ackroyd-Kelly’s first experience with Nashoba’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program came after he battled pneumonia. Two years later, he developed a mucus plug in his lung, which landed him in the program for another 16 weeks. Last year, just after Christmas, he experienced problems breathing and went to Nashoba’s emergency department. Eventually, he was diagnosed with pulmonary veno-occlusive disease (POVD) – an extremely rare disease that causes high blood pressure in the lung arteries. In April, he went back into pulmonary rehabilitation.
During the 16-weeks he participated in Nashoba’s program, Ackroyd-Kelly attended twice a week for two hours and was supervised by qualified, experienced nurses. Each day, for one hour, he completed physician prescribed exercises to help build strength and achieve the program’s overall goals.
“On the first day of the program, the nurses had me attempt a six-minute walk and I couldn’t complete it. I just didn’t have the lung capacity and I was weak,” says Ackroyd-Kelly. “But, by the end of the 16 weeks I completed this walk and felt very good.”
In addition to the exercise component of the program, patient education is an integral aspect of pulmonary rehabilitation. Once a week Ackroyd-Kelly would attend individualized education sessions on varying topics, which included breathing techniques, what signs to look for with breathing problems, how to take medication, and nutrition. He graduated from the 16-week program in July and is now in the maintenance program, which consists of attending once a week for an hour. During this hour, Ackroyd-Kelly exercises using several types of machines and is overseen by the program nurses.
“The level of care I have received through this program is wonderful,” he explains. “The nurses are very patient, attentive and caring. They are also very in touch with their patients and know everyone personally.”
Ackroyd-Kelly’s condition doesn’t have a cure – however, he is coming up on a year and feels great. Through his hard work in Nashoba’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program, Ackroyd-Kelly has been able to continue participating in the some of the activities he enjoys like taking care of his lawn. A lawn that encompasses two and a half acres, which he mows using his ride on John Deere tractor that has been outfitted to hold his oxygen tank. But, his most favorite activity of all is traveling with his wife, Penny.