Christine McVay’s apartment in Prineville is decorated with the kind of special memories one tends to gather while on an 80-year (and counting) journey through life.
There are old photos of days gone by and newer pictures of loved ones. Knickknacks picked up along the way. Scribbled inspirational sayings and framed works of art.
And in a prominent spot right above her favorite chair hangs a framed certificate with a blue ribbon on it, right next to these words:
Pulmonary Rehab Certificate of Completion
Chris has completed 56 sessions and
taken steps toward an enhanced quality of life.
“They gave that to me when I was done,” McVay said, her eyes twinkling with pride.
She earned that certificate, too. Over about a year’s time - from June 12, 2018 to June 3, 2019 - McVay attended 56 cardiopulmonary rehab sessions at St. Charles, usually under the guidance of respiratory therapist Susan Kneeshaw.
McVay was unsure about the program at first, she said, but she knew that she had to do something to combat the shortness of breath she started feeling a few years ago.
“My lungs were getting weaker and weaker. I couldn’t go from (my living room) to the door without having to use my inhaler,” she said. “And I realized I was going shorter and shorter when walking my dog. I knew I needed help.”
McVay smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes per day when she was younger, but she quit about 10 years ago. Now, she has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, as well as a pacemaker. She takes a couple different medications for her conditions, but doctors believed that spending time in cardiopulmonary rehab would be the best way to help her get both her breath and her longer dog-walks back.
When she first arrived in the St. Charles rehab facility, she felt intimidated by the small army of exercise machines. She tried a variety of them, and eventually settled on a program that worked well for her.
“I was nervous going in,” McVay said. “But I got on there and I thought, ‘Well, this isn’t too bad. I think I can do this.’ And so I just kept doing it.”
It doesn’t take much time spent with McVay to recognize her strong willpower and dedication to accomplishing a goal. “She’s a real go-getter,” said her friend, Susan Baker. So once she was locked in to her rehab plan, McVay made her way to St. Charles for every appointment, even calling Dial-A-Ride when the roads were icy.
Her hard work paid off. After a year of rehab, McVay’s shortness of breath has subsided and she has dramatically increased the distance she can walk in six minutes, according to Kneeshaw. She graduated from the rehab program, and even saved a few of the sessions that she is allowed per lifetime in case she ever needs them again.
Now, she hopes she can stand as a beacon of hope for other people in her position.
“I didn’t know if I could do it, but I did it. And if I can do it, anyone can,” she said. “I like telling people that so that maybe I can help somebody else that’s having a problem.”