A BLF nurse changed my life
Malcolm says his BLF nurse allowed him to stop planning his funeral and take on a half-marathon.
I first noticed something wasn't quite right on my lunch break from work. My breathing became laboured while walking.
To begin with, I thought it was just a virus or a chest infection. I had a particularly tough time in early 2012, but none of it was attributed to COPD at the time.
I had multiple diagnoses of pleurisy, pneumonia, viruses and fluid on the lungs, but not of COPD. Last year I had another bout of illness, and this time it was confirmed as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
I took it all in while the doctor explained that there was no cure and there was nothing I could do to make it better. I was told that I just had to try to maintain the amount of lung function I had left at the time.
I was devastated. I had nothing to look forward to now but a poor quality of life - at best.
With this in mind, I took the decision to think about what could be, and make all the final arrangements so that Barbara, my wife of 45 years, had nothing to worry about. We sold our static caravan and made funeral arrangements.
The stress I put Barbara under at this time must have been unbearable, but she was there for me always. When I cried because I could see no future. When I couldn't breathe lying down in bed, she sat up all night with me. She tried to encourage me that things would be okay. She was my salvation. These were dark times.
Although I had intended to work on for another 2 years past my retirement age, I was strongly advised against it by all concerned. I was told that I needed to accept my retirement as a matter of urgency if I wanted to continue living much longer. At this time I couldn't climb a flight of stairs, or even manage a full shower without taking a rest.
I wasn't in a good place. I was receiving care from my local GP practice, which didn't seem to be making a great deal of difference. Despite all the medication provided my lung function was still deteriorating, so I asked to see a specialist.
Turning my life around
An appointment was made to visit the local lung specialist nurse, Nicky Lowe, who also happened to be a British Lung Foundation nurse. My first meeting with Nicky was eye-opening. She gave me a comprehensive examination, amended my medication and sat me down for a good talking to. I was given lots of helpful literature and positive actions to move forward with managing my condition effectively.
In 2 further appointments with Nicky she monitored my progress and further amended my medication before discharging me with all the tools and knowledge to look forward with hope, not fear.
I thanked her for all her help and everything she had done for me. She even wrote down her mobile phone number so that I could contact her in emergencies. Nicky turned my life around, and for that I will be forever grateful. I've only contacted her twice, to update her on my progress, thank her again and ask for a some nuggets of advice.
With her advice, much encouragement from Barbara, and lots of hard work, I've managed to lose 60 pounds in weight since retiring a year ago and I can now walk 5 miles without resting (when the weather holds up, at least). To me, that's nothing short of miraculous.
Taking on the Great North Run
Later this year I'm taking part in the Great North Run - the biggest running event in the UK. I'll be joining 60,000 people in running a half-marathon through North-East England. Nicky was a British Lung Foundation nurse, so I want to raise as much money as I can for the BLF as an extra thank you to her.
It's a big challenge, but it has given me a target to aim for. Whether I succeed or not I don't know, but I will be giving me all from start to finish. Life is very different now. Don't get me wrong, I still have bad days and bad nights, but I feel 20 years younger than I did last year. My outlook on life has changed and I'm looking forward to spending quality time with my family.
A year ago I was planning my funeral. Now I've just booked a holiday and things are looking much rosier than they have for a long time. Nicky has shown me that there is hope for people like me.