Swimming to her limit: Midland woman fights pulmonary hypertension in the water

08.05.2011

Source: mlive.com Published: Friday, August 05, 2011, 9:45 AM

Swimming to her limit: Midland woman fights pulmonary hypertension in the water

Enlarge Veronica Greason, 79, of Midland was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2001. To stabilize the condition, Greason swims three days a week at the Midland Community Center, using an oxygen tank and 25-foot tube.

Swimming to her limit: Midland woman fights pulmonary hypertension in the water gallery (6 photos)
Swimming to her limit: Midland woman fights pulmonary hypertension in the waterSwimming to her limit: Midland woman fights pulmonary hypertension in the waterSwimming to her limit: Midland woman fights pulmonary hypertension in the waterSwimming to her limit: Midland woman fights pulmonary hypertension in the waterSwimming to her limit: Midland woman fights pulmonary hypertension in the water

MIDLAND — When 79-year-old Veronica Greason looks around the pool at the Midland Community Center, she knows she’s working 10 times harder than the “floaters” bobbing up and down for exercise.

“I call them floaters, because they just kind of hang out and talk in one place and call it exercise,” Greason says as a puff of oxygen pumps through her nose.

“I’m pretty exhausted after today’s workout.”

For Greason, who turns 80 next week, a triweekly swimming routine is a necessity to keep her body strong and help her live even longer.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for the past five years, Greason wakes up well before the sun rises and swims lap in the recreation pool at the community center, 2205 Jefferson Ave. She is limited, however, by the 25-foot oxygen tube that must stay attached to her in order for her to breathe normally.

In 2001, Greason was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension — a disease that causes high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs.

“It’s a condition that can make oxygen exchange difficult, and the heart can become enlarged, which creates breathing problems and fatigue during walking or other physical activities,” said Dr. Naheed Rizvi, Greason’s doctor and a primary care physician at Mid-Michigan Medical Center in Midland.

Greason matches all of those symptoms and is required to use oxygen at all times.

While at home, the retired Midland High School physical education teacher is attached to an oxygen concentrator, along with using portable, two-foot tanks, like the one she uses at the pool.

The work being done in the pool, however, is strengthening her lungs and her body.

“I know that it will never go away, but I’m doing all I can to stabilize it,” said Greason.

After hopping into the pool, Greason swims 25 feet to the right, returns to where she started, then swims another 25 feet to the left before returning to where she started for one lap. Between each lap, she spends about 30 seconds to 1 minute performing stretches or calisthenics.

On average, she swims eight to 10 laps, using a green floating tube for assistance, in about 30 to 40 minutes.


“I need to stop every so often and catch my breath, but for the most part, I make it all the way through, and it’s a great workout,” said Greason.

Her friend Effie Blackman, 71, who comes with her to the pool, calls Greason the hardest working person in the pool.

“She works so hard that she can make me look like the older one,” said Blackman.

It’s that hard work that is helping Greason fend off the disease.

“A lot of people her age aren’t doing a lot of exercise,” said Rizvi. “So it’s certainly helping her lead a long and better life, despite having the disease.”

As she ages, Greason said she realizes her knees, hip and joints are giving out on her, but she remains determined to keep exercising.

“It’s the best advice I can give to anyone,” she said. “Stay active as long as you can.”

Midlander, 79, won't let oxygen tank keep her out of the pool
Midlander, 79, won't let oxygen tank keep her out of the pool Veronica Greason, 79 was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2001. To stabilize the condition, Greason swims three days a week at the Midland Community Center, using a 25-foot oxygen tube. Watch video

  


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