It was a miracle I survived

Eric has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He shares his story from being diagnosed to running a Breathe Easy group.

Eric Compton

I woke up one morning in 2007 and made my way to the shower. I noticed my breathing wasn't so good. It took a long time to shower and dry myself. I had to sit down many times while dressing.

When I did get down stairs, my wife noticed how bad my breathing was and called the GP. They advised us to call an ambulance and I was sent to hospital with blue lights flashing.

A miracle

I can't recall anything until the following morning, when a doctor said that it was a miracle I survived the night. At one point, they were going to call my family because they were so concerned.

I was told that I had emphysema, which meant nothing to me. I had no idea what COPD was until I was referred to pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). PR is an exercise programme for people living with a lung condition. It was only then that I learnt the full extent of my condition and how serious it was.

Running a Breathe Easy group

I completed the 7 weeks of PR and then went on to a maintenance exercise group to keep my fitness levels up.

While I was at the maintenance group, the physiotherapist asked if I would attend a meeting and represent the group. I went along to the meeting, which was attended by someone from the British Lung Foundation. They were trying to set up a Breathe Easy group, a support group for those living with a lung condition. They asked me if I wanted to be chairman and have been running the group since 2011!

Make sure you exercise

I'd urge those with COPD to attend pulmonary rehab if they can, and complete the course. The exercise will help to keep you out of hospital and help with your breathing. It'll slow down the progression and help your lungs. That'll make a big difference to your life.


If you're worried about your breathing, our online breath test can help. Feeling short of breath from time to time is healthy and normal – but sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious.

Answer our simple questions to see if you should get it checked out.

Take the breath test


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13 November 2017