April 3, 2014

Sue Summerhayes



In an earlier story Darryl wrote of his problems in coping with COPD. His wife Sue has now provided us with a full time Carer’s view of living with a COPD sufferer and how she feels that both Darryl and herself are now coping with the disease.

Hi, my name is Sue Summerhayes and my husband Darryl was diagnosed with COPD approximately 10 months ago.

After the initial shock and coming to terms with the Disease, life goes on but at a different pace.  Of course Darryl is the one who is most affected both physically and mentally, having to change his whole lifestyle.  Darryl always prided himself on doing all the physical work at home and helping others with heavy lifting, building etc.  When he was first suffering with this Disease he found himself unable to do much at all, this is when the Depression set in. It is not easy to go from being a strong healthy person to someone who gets puffed walking to the letterbox.

After a while he found he could do a few things as long as he stopped and had a rest and did not push himself to do things he couldn’t. It’s all about changing the way in which you do things. For instance Darryl really enjoyed mowing the lawn. This was out of the question as he just did not have the energy, so we bought a ride on lawn mower. Some weeks Darryl needs to mow the lawn over two days, but feels good at being able to do this chore at all.

Exercise is another problem, no exercise meant he gained weight, which made it harder for him to breath, but he was not able to breath well enough to exercise. It was suggested to Darryl that he try using a walker, this was not received well as only old people use these and he felt it was embarrassing at his age. When this was explained to Darryl that it was like doing the groceries while leaning on a shopping trolley for support, he decided to give it a try. Now we take the walker with us when we go places that require more than a couple of minutes walking.

We spent a weekend in Sydney last October and the hotel could not be accessed from the street without using stairs, something we hadn’t thought of at the time. Now we plan family outings more thoughtfully and look at whether the destination is disabled friendly, i.e has a lift. We avoid places where the air is thick with smog or the humidity is severe.

All in all life goes on and as long as we can keep the depression away and make the necessary changes to our lifestyle we should be OK.