Hiking, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, landscaping, boating, cutting/splitting/stacking firewood or walking his dog, Piper. This is John “Jack” Sheffield’s New Hampshire lifestyle and one he and his wife, Sally, fully embrace. It is why they moved to Campton 12 years ago, so they could live it every day.
About four years ago Jack started to notice he needed to stop and catch his breath when hiking or skiing. At the recommendation of his primary care provider, Jack followed up with a pulmonologist and was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder).
Then a couple of years ago Jack suffered a collapsed lung. X-rays reveled he had spots on his lungs. While closely monitored, in November 2013 there was concern about an area in his upper right lobe. Together he and his doctors decided the best course of action was to do a lobectomy, and remove the lobe in his upper right lung.
While the surgery itself went well, Jack did have some secondary complications which left him 30 pounds lighter, with very little energy, and on continuous oxygen. Instead of climbing 4,000 footers, Jack found it took everything he had to go from the couch in the living room to the bedroom. He describes himself as feeling “just like a noodle” having lost so much muscle mass and endurance; not to mention 20 percent of his lung capacity. That’s when Jack was referred to Speare’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program.
“Before the surgery I worked out regularly, but now I knew I did not have the motivation to do it myself,” says Jack. “I needed something to get me back in the grove both physically and mentally.”
Jack didn’t think he was doing so well at first, but Occupational Therapist Candee Adams assured him his MET levels were progressing positively with each session. Higher METs are better, and are of measure cardiovascular fitness based on the efficiency at which muscles are supplied oxygen.
Jack says, “Paul and Candee were great cheerleaders. They kept me motivated, gave me breathing techniques and helped me understand my disease. I still have COPD, and my progress has been slow, but as my wife reminds me every day, I’m going in the right direction.”
Today Jack is breathing better, climbing higher and has achieved his ultimate goal: to ski this winter.
Speare Memorial Hospital—nationally ranked as Top 100 Critical Access Hospital and 2014 HealthStrong™ Hospital— is a 24-hour, acute care, non-profit community hospital and health care provider serving Plymouth and the communities of central New Hampshire. Visit online at www.speare2020.wpengine.com and join us on Facebook and Twitter.