“After a couple of years of becoming more and more breathless, on 8th August 2011 I had to leave work and go to my GP because I had a severe pain in my side. I was sent for an x–ray the next day. On the 11th August at the top of my stairs on my way to bed I became so breathless I thought I was going to die. I wasn’t able to speak but I phoned my daughter and she recognised my number and knew something was wrong so came round immediately. By the time she got to me my breathing was a little better and I was able to whisper. She stayed with me that night and we went back to the GP in the morning. The GP prescribed an inhaler and this has been invaluable in helping manage my breathlessness. It is certainly true that nothing else matters when you can’t breathe!
“That September my GP told me I had COPD but didn’t tell me very much about what it was. I remember looking on the internet for some information. I retired from work on medical grounds and everything in my life became a bit slower. It took me longer to do household chores and I had real trouble with my stairs at home and I was struggling with difficult emotions like frustration, anger and fear.
“In September 2012 I was in a local chemist, not my normal one, when I saw a poster for a NICHS COPD Support Group. I wrote the number down, on my hand I think. I rang the number to speak to the Respiratory Support Co–ordinator and am so glad I did.
“Meeting people with similar experiences to me has been wonderful. I was very quiet at the start but now I talk a lot more as my confidence has increased.
“The group were so encouraging and it helped to set goals to do things through the week. I still use the goals to get things done. At the minute I am sorting clothes to give to charity or recycling and I am breaking it down into smaller goals.
“Through NICHS I have also been put in contact with a physical activity co–ordinator and I am now attending an activity class for people living with COPD and I love that I am back at the gym. It’s something I have always loved.
“I am so glad that I saw that poster and phoned NICHS. I feel like things have just fallen into place for me since I met my Support Group and I am sure my daughter sees a big difference in me. I just feel so much better.”
Find out more about the respiratory services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.