Robert is a retired security guard from Kent who has been fit and well living in Belfast most of his life.
Robert’s job kept him busy most of his life until he retired at a very respectable 69 years old. 3 years ago he suddenly collapsed at home and spent 5 days in hospital. Robert was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. The doctors recommended he make some small changes to his lifestyle to manage the illness.
Robert tells us “Up until this point my breathing had been becoming a struggle but I was managing just fine. Collapsing at home was a big nod that I needed help.”
While in hospital, Robert met with one of Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s Respiratory support co-ordinators. He was invited to attend a 6 week ‘Taking Control’ – Self Management programme to learn about his condition and other related illnesses.
Robert tells us “The Taking Control programme taught me about making some small changes to my life like planning my days, managing my diet and taking regular exercise. Until that time I had been drinking 30 cups of coffee and eating a whole Madeira cake…..every day. I’m glad to say I’ve cut down on all that now.
“I also learned a lot about similar COPD related illnesses like Strokes and Heart attacks. Since my diagnosis I now walk everywhere, attend an exercise class every Monday and I’m proud to say that I quit smoking 8 years ago.
“Taking control has taught me the importance of exercise to strengthen the muscles of my heart and around my lungs, helping me to breathe better.
“I can still do everything I used to, only now I take things a little slower. I’m better able to manage housework and I’ve even been able to redecorate the house, one room at a time. It will take me longer than in the past but thanks to Taking Control, I can manage it. ”
Find out more about the respiratory services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.