Clayton’s story

COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) has totally turned my life upside down. I don’t do what I could do before, but I now have more time for the things I enjoy.

My asthma started around my early twenties and I had a bout of pneumonia when I was 26. The breathing and wheezing continued to slowly worsen over the years but it never really concerned me as I just put it down to my age.

In 2006, aged 47, I was going through some personal issues when I started having more asthma-like problems – the usual shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing was now more pronounced. I had been diagnosed with asthma for some years by this stage but something just didn’t feel right. I went to see a specialist at Prince Charles Hospital and was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

I think I went numb in the beginning and I couldn’t believe it. I was in complete denial for the first five years.

It was 16 December 2011 when my doctor pointed to the words “severe emphysema” on a CT result. That’s when it hit me.

I’ve got EMPHYSEMA. So, since then I’ve tried to do everything possible to control this condition.

In the beginning I didn’t want anyone to worry, especially if I got short of breath in a shopping centre. It also took me ages to use the handicap parking spot even when I had my parking permit as I always thought others needed that space before me.

I went through the first couple of years filled with anxiety and a touch of depression at times as well.

After some research and discussions with friends and medical professionals I started to see COPD with new eyes – a new understanding. This took a lot of the pressure off and I began to relax and breathe. I started focusing more on my meditation and mindfulness as this was something that I had done many years ago but had stopped due to a busy lifestyle. My biggest defence for this condition today is being self-educated in all aspects of COPD and all that can improve my life.

I feel I still lead an active life doing my gardening and visiting friends as much as possible. Sometimes things just need to be planned ahead of time if it’s going to be a long trip. Gardening may take twice as long now but I get to enjoy it twice as much. Life is good.

Sharing your personal experience with lung disease is a compelling and inspiring way for others to learn about and cope with their diagnosis. Your story may also encourage people to identify and act on symptoms they are experiencing, which may otherwise have been ignored.

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