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Ormond Beach Observer Friday, Aug. 23, 2019 11 months ago

'Working for independence': AdventHealth Wellness Center helps Ormond Beach resident breathe easier

David Nebel went home with an oxygen tank after a bout of pneumonia in January. Since then, he's increased his exercise regimen and decreased the amount of oxygen he needs.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Ormond Beach resident David Nebel is a man with a goal. 

He wants to keep working, get his paycheck and continue to enjoy Disney World with his five grandchildren. But to do this, Nebel had to challenge himself, and improve his health. 

Back in April 2010, shortly after getting off a plane, Nebel had to go to the hospital for problems with the mitral valve in his heart. Before this, he had been struggling with weight gain, fluid retention and trouble breathing. Nebel recalls he weighed over 300 pounds then. Doctors at AdventHealth Daytona Beach performed a coronary artery bypass graft surgery. 

Nebel then dropped to about 275 pounds, and wanting to continue to work on his health, he took a health education class with Veterans Affairs. There, he learned about calories, portion sizes and how to eat better. That helped to lose about 30 more pounds, but then, he plateaued. 

“No matter what I didn’t eat, it still wouldn’t come off," Nebel said.

His health remained stagnant for the next few years until this January, when he became sick with pneumonia. Nebel, a computer programmer in his late 60s, was in AdventHealth's intensive care unit for seven days. Nebel was struggling to breath, and when he was discharged from the hospital, he came home with an oxygen tank. 

Nebel needed to work on respiratory system after this, and he did rehab at the hospital's Wellness Center. There, Dr. Dany Obeid urged him to push himself. Nebel said he learned that patients can "cruise on the machines," but if you challenge yourself, you'll start to see positive changes. 

“If you’re not pressing it, it’s not going to help you," Nebel said.

David Nebel. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

At first he was working out at the Wellness Center for two days a week. Now, he goes every day, and his wife Mary Nebel joins him. There's likely very few people that know David Nebel better than his wife. They met when they were teenagers. She was 14, and he was 16. Now, they've been married for 48 years. 

Their healthy lifestyle has been successful because they look out for one another. David Nebel said it wouldn't work the other way.

“It’s really good, because it’s a support system,” Mary Nebel said.

Lisa Wilkinson, cardiopulmonary rehab department manager, said David Nebel was struggling at the beginning. He came in using 8 liters of oxygen per minute. That's now decreased to 2 liters, as needed, and he's doubled the amount of exercise he can do. 

“Working with someone like David is wonderful," Wilkson said. "He got here because he’s very compliant. We can tell patients what to do and you don’t see great outcomes. He really worked hard at it.”

David Nebel is a tough guy, she added. David Nebel is a Vietnam War Army veteran who was part of the 101st Airborne Division. 

If he hadn't taken advantage of the respiratory rehab at the Wellness Center, Wilkinson said his respiratory condition would've deteriorated. Instead, he reversed it. It's an example of why older patients should keep working out, Wilkinson said. When you're young, she explained, you work out to look good. Things are different when you advance in age.

“You’re working for your independence," Wilkinson said.

David Nebel said he didn't want to be bound to a chair for life. He also doesn't want to be on oxygen for much longer, and Wilkinson has suggested they begin trying to wean him off in the near future. 

He weighs around 216 pounds now, and he's not slowing down anytime soon. He wants to continue to keep up with his grandchildren at Disney World.

“To get to this point, he’s done really well," Mary Nebel said. "I’m proud of him.”

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