High-spirited, Helen, has suffered from asthma since she was a child. She is now in her fifties and has managed her condition for the last 10 years when she was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD.
Helen tells us about when her illness started “The doctors thought I had whooping cough when I was 9 but my mother was always sure it was something else. I have always been huffy puffy and been able to manage my asthma for most of my life.
“When I was 45 I started working in a bakery and my breathing became more difficult.
“I would regularly get chest infections and be signed off work sick with breathing problems. When I would return to work, my chest problems would flare up and I would be signed off sick again. Admitting I’m ill is one of the hardest things I have to do. I don’t let it define me.”
After a particularly long stint of 10 weeks ill, Helen visited the hospital and was expecting a diagnosis of asthma. When she emerged she had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, asthma and had lost 40% of her lung capacity.
Helen found out about the services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke offer at her Respiratory rehabilitation group. She took part in the six week ‘Taking Control’ – Self Management programme and with guidance from the support group she is back at work and attempting things she never thought she would be capable of.
Now she’s walking 6000 steps a day, going to theme parks, ridden a segway and has even laid a laminate kitchen floor at home.
Helen says “I’m also eating a more balanced diet with regular portions of fruit & veg and setting goals for myself each day.
“The Taking Control programme gives me the tools to manage my condition and live my life.”
Find out more about the respiratory services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.