How exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation helped me
John is treasurer of Breathe Easy Basingstoke. He tells his story
In 2005, I got pneumonia. I went to hospital, but for one reason or another I never saw a consultant. Eventually, I was discharged by the registrar and given a reliever inhaler. I assumed it was to stop my pneumonia coming back, or to help me get better.
"COPD? What's that?"
I lived in Derbyshire at the time and a few years later, I moved back to Basingstoke. I saw a nurse and she told me I should come in soon for a COPD check. “What’s that?” I said. I hadn’t got a clue what COPD meant — I was never told that I had it!
The nurse went through what everything meant, she told me not to worry too much and reassured me, so I felt a lot more relaxed after that. Then, a friend of my mother in law told me about something called pulmonary rehabilitation, or PR for short. I asked my GP to refer me to my local group and a few weeks later I was accepted.
PR really made such a difference
I didn’t know much about PR, other than that it was - to put it crudely - an exercise class. I didn’t realise the benefit it’d give me. It really made such a difference.
At the end of each session, they’d often have speakers in to tell the group about different activities to help people living with a lung condition. One week, a few people from the local Breathe Easy support group came in to recruit new members, and I went along. When I arrived, the group was going through a few changes, and next thing I knew, I was treasurer!
That was a few years ago now, and I’m still helping to run the group now. We go on trips as a group to things like the steam railway, and hold occasional parties so we can all get together. Speakers come in to chat to the group, a broad range of people, from the local respiratory team to a Pam Ayres-style poet. The poet went down very well with the group!
Give it a go
We’ve managed to get a couple of seats on the local CCG and we’re pushing to get more people to carry on exercising after their PR programme ends. It’s been lovely to be able to tie both my experiences with pulmonary rehab and my work with Breathe Easy together. My Breathe Easy group helps support a local exercise class for people with a lung condition by paying for the hire of the room. I really enjoy being able to make that difference.
I know how important it is to keep active. It's helped me. Without experiencing PR, you won’t realise the benefit, so definitely give it a go.