When you are fighting for breath at 4am, I know how scary it can be and how the questions keep going round and round in your head – should I go to hospital now or leave it a while longer? Will I be able to get my next breath or not? In the middle of the night, whether to go to hospital or not is a very big decision and if you make the wrong decision, well… it doesn’t bear thinking about. 12 years ago, along with two respiratory nurses from Craigavon hospital, I set up my local Respiratory Support Group. I found it very useful to have a network of people, actually they’re friends, who I can talk to and who are there to support me if I have a flare up and have to go to hospital. I’m naturally a very positive person and I believe in doing all that is in my own power to look after myself and that includes being part of a Respiratory Support Group.
I’ve been friends with Felix for years so when I was diagnosed with COPD, he invited me to the Respiratory Support Group. I’ve been going or 5 or 6 years now and I wouldn’t miss one now! There is great camaraderie. We have great craic. I have met people I would otherwise never have met. And on the more serious side, we are there for each other. If someone is unwell and can’t get to the meeting, then we visit them. My wife Edith, and Felix’s wife Geraldine, also go to the meetings. As well as enjoying the social side, it also helps them to understand the health condition that Felix and I are living with. But what I can’t understand is that there are lots of people in our area with COPD and they don’t come to the group. I have got so much out of it. My message is to give it a go!!
Find out more about the respiratory services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.