Liam Doherty is chairperson of the NICHS Foyle Respiratory Support Group. This is his story. “At the age of 58, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) forced me to pack in my job. It was bad enough having a chronic illness, but the massive drop in money meant that financially, life was a disaster. I eventually learned to cut my cloth accordingly, but being stuck in the house meant that isolation and loneliness kicked in. I was depressed and angry at not being able to do the things I’d previously done. I was angry at myself for not listening about the dangers of smoking. I kept asking: Why me?”
“I’ve adapted my life to cope with COPD. Having regular bouts of coughing made me reluctant to go out with friends and family. “The great thing about the support group is that we’re all there for each other. People come in to give us talks, but it’s not all about the illness. We enjoy ourselves, too, going on trips and social events.
“I know it can be difficult to come forward and join a group when you’ve just been hit with bad news, but we’ve all been there. We know exactly what it’s like and it’s worth taking that first step and joining your local group. People there will understand what you’re going through. And let’s face it, very few people know about COPD unless they have it. But you’re not on your own”.
Find out more about the respiratory services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.