Ten years ago, COPD killed my twin sister. By the time Patricia died, I had also been diagnosed with the condition. As the years have gone by, my health has deteriorated in the same way as hers did.
“However, I have support that Patricia unfortunately didn’t have – the Respiratory Support Group. It was the hospital who referred me to the group. Before I joined, I used to have to go to hospital a lot. At my appointments I would be asked what I could and couldn’t do. I tended to focus on the things I couldn’t do – it was all “can’t, can’t, can’t.” Even when they referred me to the group, I was reluctant to go as I thought I would not be able to walk the length of the corridor to where it was held.
“However, when I went, and I met the Respiratory Co–ordinator and the other members of the group, my life started to turn around. It was the best thing ever. The group gives you confidence in yourself that you can do things. We feed off each other. We are all in the same boat. We talk to each other about what we are going through and we can all relate, because we have such similar experiences.
“More than that,we are friends and we care about each other. We have great fun too.
“And there are practical sides to the Group. We do exercises. Some of us do chair based exercises, but those who can walk, do so.
“We also practice our breathing. It is important to know how to breathe properly because when you can’t get a breath and start to panic, you need to know how to get your breathing back to normal again. I now have oxygen to help me breathe. I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere without it now. I would definitely say that the oxygen and the group have given me my quality of life back.
Find out more about the respiratory services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.