April 3, 2014

Frances Merson

KNOWLEDGE IS THE KEY

says Frances, an 80 year old War Widow who has lived at Mornington on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria since 2002. She writes:

I have a very supportive son and daughter also living in Mornington. I was a smoker of 20 cigarettes say from  the age of 15 to 50 when I gave the habit up. I did not smoke during my two pregnancies; four years for the first and one year for the second.

Having been diagnosed as having chronic asthma at age 60, I did wonder why it was I was not having any ‘good days’. It was on moving to Mornington and joining ‘Better Breathers’ which I saw advertised in the local paper, that I started to learn about COPD which I had not previously heard of.

I asked my GP to facilitate tests at Rosebud Hospital, where the diagnosis of COPD was made after lung tests. I was then accepted into a pulmonary rehab course at Rosebud where I acquired skills to cope with my condition. The ‘Better Breathers’ self-help group was started and is chaired by a wonderful woman named Christine Hunt. She is tireless in seeking out and contacting speakers to educate COPD sufferers like myself. Knowledge is the key to being able to live with this disease, for it is frightening (especially at night, alone) not being able to breath.

Thanks to the efforts of Christine we are now able to attend rehab at Peninsula Health at Mornington. I have had help for almost 2 hours per fortnight to clean my home. I try to find the best way to do whatever else I need to do with helpful tips from the various speakers at ‘Better Breathers’. I also have a Safety Link alarm which has given me added confidence around my home in case of a fall. My GP assists me in every way and also does an extensive health assessment every two years. I also attend regular exercise classes so necessary for continuing good health.

Just recently I had my first visit to hospital after calling an ambulance due to breathing difficulty. I took the GP’s assessment along with my medication. The paramedics and hospital staff all declared the assessment extremely helpful.

About the future? I try hard to remain positive and surround myself with like-minded people. COPD cannot be reversed, but with help, we can maximise our quality of life.