For 13 years, Ida Hull struggled to breath.
The condition prompted periodic doctor visits, prescriptions of prednisone, one unexpected surgery and a stint of living at the end of a 50-foot hose connected to a five-foot oxygen tank. But if Ida ever heard the word Sarcoidosis, she never repeated it.
Instead the military officer’s wife and mother of three, “did the mom thing and said don’t worry about me,” said Sean Hull, her youngest son. She regarded the breathing issue as something that couldn’t be helped or explained.
“She just didn’t complain about it,” Sean said. “She went back to talking care of everybody else and acting like everything was normal.”
And Ida Hull’s normal was pretty magnificent.
She adored her family and was the rock who ensured her children got all the love and support they needed to thrive, especially when her husband was deployed to Vietnam. Despite her illness, she continued her job organizing transportation for Baltimore City school children — driving more than 40 miles to work.
She limited her retirement savings and instead contributed $5,000 each year to a Christmas fund in order to treat her kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews.
“She loved shopping,” said Winnie Ryans, Ida’s daughter. “She got tired when she walked but she never let it hold her back from the joy she wanted to have.”
She regularly visited the Post Exchange at Joint Base Andrews, as well as PXs at other installations around Maryland, Virginia and D.C. Vivacious, big-hearted and full of laughter, she talked with all the service members and workers she met on her shopping rounds and quickly bonded with many.
At home, “she was the neighborhood mama,” Winnie said. “From the time I was in junior high right through to adulthood, all my friends would come to the house to see my mother even if I wasn’t home. They just loved to sit and talk with my mama because she was so full of laughter and so down to earth.”
When Ida called her daughter one Sunday morning in December 1996 and asked to go to the hospital, Winnie knew her condition must be serious. Before leaving her Upper Marlboro home, Hull insisted on putting on a particular outfit and her favorite perfume.
“Even when she was feeling that bad, she wanted to be the woman she was,” said Winnie, who is a Maryland state trooper. “I helped her get dressed and I put her in my cruiser and then I hauled ass to the hospital.”
Ida died two days later at age 59. An autopsy confirmed that she had Sarcoidosis and likely suffered from it since the early 1980s.
The Life and Breath Foundation was created in Ida’s honor to help other Sarcoidosis patients better understand their disease, access expert treatment and continue to find their own joy in life.