Sherry Wimberly grew up with a love for horses and started riding at the age of three. Her father nurtured that love as he drove her from Oklahoma City to Norman every chance they had to take Sherry riding. She went on to compete in rodeos across Oklahoma as a barrel racer. In 2006, horses came back into Sherry’s life when she and her husband purchased land in Claremore. Working on the farm, however, was beginning to be too difficult for Sherry. “I’d already quit smoking in 1998 and I didn’t realize how out of shape I was,” she says.
At the age of 45 Sherry quit smoking after 22 years. However, her shortness of breath and difficult breathing continued to worsen. In 2006, her primary care physician referred her to a pulmonologist. It was then Sherry started pulmonary rehab at Hillcrest Hospital Claremore. “I was having trouble walking distances. I would wear out real fast,” she recalls.
In phase one of pulmonary rehab, Sherry worked with pulmonary rehab nurses on specific exercises three days a week, while also learning new breathing techniques to help build her endurance and stamina. “The Nu-Step helped a lot,” Sherry explains. “The treadmill - we all call it the ‘dreadmill’ – that helped with my distance and perseverance. And I also did the weights.”
It wasn’t easy at first. Sherry recalls those first workouts on the treadmill. “I did five minutes and that would be it,” she says. “Now I can do 15 minutes.”
Pulmonary rehab, Sherry says, not only helped build her physical endurance and improve her breathing, it also helped her fight off illness she was so susceptible to before rehab. In 2002, it took Sherry more than 6 months to recover from pneumonia. Other bouts of illness would linger for several months, making it difficult for Sherry to breathe and sidelining her from being with her horses and enjoying riding. Today Sherry says she recovers faster from illness and does not get as sick as she used to.
“Pulmonary rehab helped me so much, that I continued on the maintenance,” Sherry says. “I guess it will be 8 years this year.”
More than learning the exercise and breathing techniques to rebuild strength following the chronic lung condition, COPD, Sherry says it is the people who make coming here every week an important part of her life. “You get a buddy group and you all exercise and when they are not here you check on each other,” she says. Of the staff she says simply, “Excellent. They are just wonderful. They are so good with patients.”
Today Sherry still manages symptoms of her COPD, but feels better than she did in 2006 and is enjoying life on the farm. “This changed my life. I love coming to this place.”
To learn more about pulmonary rehab at Hillcrest Hospital Claremore call (918) 342-6703.