Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation

Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation

A sparkling, friendly woman with a ready smile, Emma Lutringer grins when she compares raising her five children to how it’s done now. “No internet, no car seats – goodness, it’s amazing that they grew up at all!” But grew up they did. Emma beams with joy when she mentions her 20+ grandchildren and 20+ great grandchildren.  

Emma has felt blessed to have good health throughout most of her life. She worked for 30 years at the Concordia Bookstore, all while raising a family. Her husband, Tony, was a long time employee of Southeast Community College who suffered complications during heart surgery leaving him unable to work. Emma cared for him at home for 19 years before he passed away four years ago. “My good health allowed me to take care of him and also work; for that I have always felt so blessed.”

However, not long after his passing and after undergoing surgery, Emma was treated for two blood clots in her lungs. To strengthen her lungs and improve her health, she enrolled and graduated from Memorial Hospital’s pulmonary rehab program feeling much better and remained active for the next two years.

But then she experienced reoccurring episodes of an irregular heart beat that resulted in trips to the emergency department and four hospitalizations. Because her heart couldn’t maintain a healthy rhythm, her heart doctor installed a pacemaker. Cardiac rehabilitation at Memorial Hospital followed to rebuild her heart and her body’s endurance. Emma stuck with the program and graduated from it feeling much stronger and healthier.

“I learned so much from the rehab staff - like how to live healthier and take better care of myself,” says Emma. “The rehab girls were always so nice and encouraging, and they answered all of my many questions.” Upon graduation from the cardiac rehab program Emma knew it was important to continue exercising. “I was feeling so much better and because now I was both a lung and heart patient, I decided to continue on a cardiopulmonary maintenance program where I work with both the cardiac rehab and respiratory therapy staff once a week, just to be sure I stay active.” She adds, “Since I am cardiopulmonary patient, I need to work on keeping both my heart and lungs strong.”

Emma appreciates the recently opened second floor cardiopulmonary gym with the expansive windows for patients to enjoy. “Some of the newer machines up here are so much easier to operate and I love looking outside – it makes the time go faster and it brings out the farmer in me!”

Emma has very few down times these days. “I know that when I’m active I feel better. I’m so blessed. I may not be rich in money, but I’m rich in a lot of other ways.”