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Patient with COPD

Patient with COPD - David Murray's Story

Eight years ago, when I was still working as an event manager at Harbour Hotel in Galway, I had been feeling unwell and collapsed one day getting out of taxi. I was taken to A&E and was diagnosed with pneumonia, then on CT examination was given a further diagnosis of emphysema. They did pulmonary function tests on me and they showed I had advanced COPD. My doctors told me the lungs were v badly damaged and scarred. I had been a heavy smoker, about 10-12 a day for 30 years, and they said I would need to change my whole lifestyle. They said if I didn’t I would have about 4 years to live otherwise. I have a 15 year old son who I raise alone, and he, David, was only 7 years old when I was diagnosed. I had to change my attitude and lifestyle if I wanted to live to continue raising him, I had to be able to function to be there for him. I was put on a waiting list for Merlin Park Hospital Pulmonary Rehab but there was a long waiting list. I quit smoking and then started my eight week course two years later. I started to feel the benefits straight away and was given my own exercise program to continue at home. I incorporate housework into my weekly routine so I can keep the place tidy and not over do it but still get it done.

Over time I became a bit breathless and started to need night time oxygen, and then I had a check up with Tara my other physio who noticed my oxygen levels were dropping when I walked about, so went onto full time oxygen three years ago. I also went on non-invasive ventilation for night time. I now have an exercise bike that I use at home all the time, and I do my exercise every day. I need a routine. Two and a half years ago got a very bad infection and was admitted to hospital. After my admission I did a six week pulmonary rehab course again with Niamh the physio, and I think I built my strength up much because I had always been doing my exercises myself. When I was home Sheila the physio with the COPD outreach program also came out to review my exercises and make sure I was doing well. Thanks to my physios I’ve only been hospitalised twice in eight years  -  and I’ve lived much longer than the four years I was told I would have left. It’s all thanks to being shown how to look after myself.

I just want to stay out of hospital and physiotherapy is helping me to do this. A lot of people don’t realise that if I didn’t do my physio I wouldn’t be able to keep going. I do my exercises every day and it makes me feel better within myself. I’m looking after myself and my future. Thanks to my physio I know how to be active and not to give up. I can take a breath, I can catch my breath, I am able to cope with my breathlessness and can adapt to it. I have a new lifestyle, I can look after myself and so I can look after my son. When my son was only 7 or 8 he was great, he knew I was ill and he helped to keep me going, to keep up my exercises. He likes school. My goal is to see him get to college. He’s in 5th year, he’s making plans. He wants to study, he’s into science and exercise, he’s even considering physio! I’m hoping to get a lung transplant, I’m on the assessment list in Dublin. I see my doctor Dr Regan every three months, they are happy with how I’m doing, they see I’m looking after myself and have a good routine. They can’t believe how well I have done and for so long. I didn’t want to die and leave my son behind. Even though he’s 15 I still have to get him up for school, still have to make his dinner, he’s great but he’s still a child. I give a talk every 8 weeks at the rehab group in MPH to those newly diagnosed with lung disease, telling them not to give up. I did a radio program on COPD day on Galway Bay FM. I believe so much in the pulmonary rehab program. If I hadn’t done that program and hadn’t met my physios, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s as simple as that. It showed me how to cope.

- David Murray

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