For decades, Dan Pardue has taught singers in Iredell County how to control
their breathing to make music. Now 50 years into his career as a vocal
instructor, Pardue is a student again - learning to live and breathe with
a degenerative lung disease.
In 2015 the Statesville resident became the first patient to enter Iredell
Health System’s pulmonary rehab program. Through education and exercise,
he and dozens of others with lung disorders have been able to maintain
their quality of life.
Pardue entered rehab after he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a
disease marked by scarring of the lungs. Symptoms include difficulty breathing,
which gets worse over time. Pardue believes rehab has helped to stabilize
his condition and given him tools to manage the disease.
“Because I’m a vocal teacher I have worked with breathing
all my life, but I learned new things in this class that I never knew,”
The Pulmonary Rehab Center on the campus of Iredell Memorial Hospital
helps patients with COPD, asthma, obstructive lung disease and other respiratory
issues. It typically includes an 18 week session, beginning with an evaluation
and setting goals for each patient.
“Our main goal is for them to do more at home with less shortness
of breath and to be more independent,” said exercise specialist
Sabrina Melchor. “A lot of them depend on a spouse or someone else
in the home to do things like household chores. Just getting them to be
more self-sufficient is a big deal.”
Lower respiratory disease is the third leading cause of death in North
Carolina, behind heart disease and cancer, according to the Centers for
Disease Control. Programs like Iredell Health System’s pulmonary
rehab can help patients improve their odds.
For respiratory therapist Michelle Jones, helping Pardue has been especially
rewarding. He gave voice lessons to her sons when they were young.
“I have known Dan for many years and it was tough to see him like
that,” said Jones. “He had difficulty taking a few steps.
He wasn’t on enough oxygen. We helped adjust his oxygen levels in
keeping with his doctor’s orders. Now he exercises for almost 45
minutes to an hour. He doesn’t miss a day if he can help it. He’s
consistent and that’s what it takes, consistency.”
Pardue graduated from the rehab program, but he hasn’t stopped working
to manage his health. Like others who have completed the program, Pardue
comes to the center as often as four days a week for Medically Supervised
Exercise Therapy. He is usually there on the treadmill with his oxygen
tank – and his wife – by his side.
“The exercise part was so good, when I started the program I asked,
‘can my wife do this?’ So now, we come here together.”
Medically Supervised Exercise Therapy is available to anyone in the community
with a prescription from their doctor. Participants can work out under
the guidance of the rehab center staff, who can answer questions and monitor
Pardue continues to give voice lessons and directs the choir at Statesville’s
First ARP church. With help from his doctors and the staff at Iredell’s
pulmonary rehab center, he is determined to get the most out of life.
“This is an illness that nobody would want,” said Pardue.
“It is limiting but I’m still directing choir. We just had
our 80th birthday. I’ve slowed down the way anybody would at that
age would I suppose, but I enjoy life a great deal.”
To find out more about pulmonary rehabilitation programs or Medically
Supervised Exercise Therapy, call the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center
(Photo: Dan Pardue and his wife Jane at the Cardiopulmonary Rehab Center
on the campus of Iredell Memorial Hospital)