Greg Greenslade had a double lung transplant in 2015.
It was work related, explained the 71-year-old retired industrial painter, of the illness that got him to that point.
In 1974 Greenslade was employed as an industrial painter. He used to paint things like bridges, the insides of oil tanks, and pipelines.
“In those days, when I first started, you didn’t have to wear a mask and respirators and all that stuff,” said Greenslade.
Masks became mandatory in the early 1980s, he said. But even then, they never changed the filters often enough, because nobody wanted to climb down the entire span of a bridge just to do it.
Greenslade became sick around the year 2000 when he was only 58. He was still working and was starting to get out of breath climbing up the bridges.
“You would have to rest and get your energy back and start again,” he said.
So, he went to see his family doctor in Maple Ridge who referred him to a specialist. Greenslade thought the chemicals in the paint were making him sick and his specialist agreed. But after working with him for a couple of years, Greenslade was referred to a research doctor at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
By this time, around 2006/07, Greenslade’s breathing was stable and he decided to move to the Okanagan, where he thought the weather might be better for his breathing. However, his breathing eventually became worse and in 2012 he moved back to Maple Ridge and was put on a transplant list. But, he stabilized so doctors took him off until 2014 following a testing period of around seven months to make sure he had no other medical issues.
On July 4, 2015, when he was 65-years-old, he got the call.
They phoned him up on the Saturday morning and asked him what was he doing.
“They said if you come down to VGH, [Vancouver General Hospital], we’ve got a pair of lungs. My wife was just completely out of it, so I drove myself to the hospital,” he chuckled.
Greenslade was in the operating room for nine-and-a-half hours after having a heart attack on the table, he said.
Since then it’s been an uphill battle. He’s had water on his lungs twice and five years ago, en route to Vancouver Island, he caught a virus on the ferry.
Then, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, he had another heart attack.
However, during this time he has been part of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program.The 71-year-old said he is thankful for the program.
And that’s why he is planning to take part in this year’s virtual Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation Fund Run.
This year is the 18th annual run, including the virtual runs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Greenslade is healthy enough to participate, this will be the fourth he has taken part in. Greenslade did the 5K in 2017, 2018, and 2019. And, before that he also took part in a run for the BC Lung Association.
Stacey McNeilly, Greenslade’s respiratory therapist and educator who runs the program at Ridge Meadows Hospital, is encouraging all of her students to take part. She can have up to 20 patients in her class with all types of lung disease including: lung disease, chronic lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and pulmonary fibrosis.
Her program runs one hour three times a week, and is not only exercise and education for the class but a social event.
Another man in the class, who is the recipient of a double lung transplant, has also participated in the runs for several years, said McNeilly.
Another lady did the 5K fun with an oxygen tank. Her daughter carried an extra tank.
“The foundation has been a big part of supporting our program, and these folks will do a lot to give back,” said McNeilly of her class.
“A lot of them are de-conditioned, and they are trying to get healthy again,” she explained, noting to receive a lung transplant, a person has to be part of a program like hers to stay conditioned.
“These guys work really hard,” she said.
Greenslade thinks the world of McNeilly.
“She is so knowledgeable,” he said.
She coaches people in the class on how to increase their stamina, their oxygen levels and she knows what programs to apply for to get further help.
“She shows you where to go and what needs to be done,” added Greenslade.
And now that she has set up the class virtually, all the regulars are back, he said, “like their own little club.”
Last year Greenslade did the run with two other lung transplant recipients.
“For me it’s important because the hospital has helped me quite a bit,” he said, explaining how when he first showed up for a class, when they were held in-person before COVID, how he was lucky if he could make it the 50 feet from the car to the rehab centre.
Now he is happy to inspire hope in others that find themselves in the same situation.
“When you try hard enough, things work out,” he said
To register for this years Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation Fund Run go to raceroster.com.
Participants can do a 5K or 10K run, walk, or jog anytime up until, and including Sunday, June 6.
This year there will be prizes and surprises throughout the virtual race window.
And, registration is considered a donation this year, so all participants will receive a tax receipt.
Register by Saturday, May 15, to be entered into the early-bird draw.
For every $100 in pledges, the participant’s name will be entered into the grand prize draw.
Registered participants can track their run using RunKeeper, where results will be automatically synced with each Race Roster account and be uploaded right onto the leaderboard.
Or participants can screen capture any fitness app or watch, and manually upload their time to the leaderboard.
Photos of the race can be shared at the “News contest page” to be eligible for prizes.
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