July 17, 2017

Living with a lung condition

A chat with Janelle Griffiths, Bunbury, Western Australia

At the Lung Foundation, we have the privilege of speaking to and meeting people around Australia who have interesting stories to tell about their lives and the ways they manage their condition and continue to enjoy their hobbies. At the Perth Patient Seminar, the Information and Support Centre team enjoyed speaking to Janelle and Barry Griffiths who run the South West Impaired Lung Support (SWILS) Group in Bunbury.

Janelle was diagnosed with bronchiectasis as a baby having been born with Pink Disease (infant acrodynia), a condition primarily attributed to exposure to the mercury commonly found in teething powders in the first half of the 20th century. At five years old, Janelle had one lung removed and enjoyed good health until her mid-20s. She said the last 10 years have been particularly challenging for her as her symptoms have worsened. However she exercises when she can and has attended a pulmonary rehabilitation program in Bunbury which she enjoyed. She also feels that it is important to review regularly the medicines she is taking to make sure she is getting the most benefit from them. If she experiences an exacerbation, she manages it by going to her doctor and taking
antibiotics promptly. As she has no energy, it is important to rest until she is feeling better.

Since 2014, Janelle has been the Group Leader of SWILS and she feels there are many benefits of belonging to a support group. She mentions particularly the ability to form new friendships, talking about the problems of having a lung condition and sharing ways of coping. She feels it is important to know that you are not alone in your lung disease journey. The SWILS Group has both informal meetings including morning teas and a chat, as well as a more formal element where an invited guest speaker presents on a topic around managing lung disease.

Janelle and Barry have regularly attended the Lung Foundation’s Perth Patient Seminar since 2009. She says attending the events is an enjoyable and informative experience and the information provided is helpful in reinforcing you’re doing the right thing.

Despite the challenges of having bronchiectasis, Janelle does not let it stop her from participating in the activities she enjoys. She and Barry enjoy travelling and regularly take trips in their caravan. As Janelle is on oxygen, they take her concentrator with them and plug it into their generator. She enjoys the peace and tranquillity which give her a chance to relax. Janelle’s message for other people living with a lung condition is not to let it get the better of you and to do as much as you can to enjoy life.

If you are interested in finding a support group near you, please call us freecall on 1800 654 301.