I am back out on the dance floor… my passion for dance has kept me going

Karen Rix, Patient

Karen Rix had her first ballroom dancing lesson over ten years ago. It was there that she discovered her passion for dancing. Since then, Karen has competed and performed in various productions throughout the years.

Two years ago during her cancer treatment, Karen started having difficulty breathing. Shopping for groceries and doing household chores became a challenge. Even taking a shower and washing her hair was difficult.  She experienced breathing attacks and was catching bronchitis frequently. Karen knew she needed to get help with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Karen decided to visit Cynthia Workman, PA-C from Bronson Pulmonary Medicine Specialists – Kalamazoo for her respiratory care. From the beginning Karen knew she was going to love working with her. “Cynthia showed so much compassion and concern for me,” said Karen.

“She asked me to walk down the hall and I couldn’t do it. After just a few steps, Cynthia could see I was out of breath,” said Karen. “She told me that not being able to have enough air to walk down the hall was not acceptable and wanted to help.”

Cynthia worked to find ways to help sustain Karen’s breathing. Karen explains, “She helped me find ways to get back to doing everyday things.” Cynthia encouraged Karen to use oxygen to help her breathe throughout the day when she was performing everyday tasks.

Karen was also referred to Bronson Pulmonary Rehabilitation – Kalamazoo to help her with breathing and COPD. Karen mentioned how difficult it was to breathe while she washed her hair. “The team told me I could wear my oxygen in the shower. I didn’t know I could do that!”

As part of the rehabilitation program, Karen attended a group exercise and education class on a weekly basis in a small group. “It helps feel support to be exercising and learning with others who are going through a similar experience. The group feels like one big family.”

“The staff took the time to get to know me. They helped give me the push I needed to do more each time,” said Karen. With exercise and a healthy diet, Karen was able to start losing weight. “This program has helped me so much! They have really helped me figure out how to manage my breathing and get back to my life.”

In the educational sessions, the staff went over information about pulmonary diseases, advance directives, medications and nutrition. “I actually realized I was not using my inhaler correctly by attending one of the sessions on medications.”

Karen was able to get a backpack to carry her oxygen tank, allowing her get back out on the dance floor. “It’s not been easy and it’s sometimes hard to accept limits, but I am on the right path now,” she said.