I have a serious respiratory disease called COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that makes it hard to breathe. But I credit pulmonary rehabilitation for making my life whole again and enabling me to continue doing all the things love – including dancing.
How did breathing problems begin for you?
I never smoked, but breathing problems run in my family so I’ve always made sure to take good care of myself - eating well and exercising. There was a point not long ago when I began feeling very badly. I had trouble getting out of a chair and walking. I couldn’t even talk on the phone. My friend made me go see a doctor, who sent me off the hospital there and then. It turned out I had COPD, which was getting worse – in addition I had a lung infection and one of my lungs had collapsed.
What steps did you take next?
After I got home from St. Paul’s Hospital, the doctor sent a respiratory therapist to see me, and she suggested I take a pulmonary rehabilitation course. She told me exercise is really important for people living with breathing problems, like COPD. I was so short of breath I was afraid to exercise. But my doctors told me staying still would only make the problem worse. Pulmonary rehabilitation teaches you how to become fitter, be physically active safely and how to reduce breathlessness. Together with the right medicines, it helps you take control over your lung condition and live a more fulfilling life.
Did it take you long to get into a pulmonary rehab program?
There was actually a long waiting list for the pulmonary rehabilitation course so it took me seven months to get in - but once I did, it was a godsend. After the eight-week program ended I didn’t want to stop! I learned how to pace myself and control my breathing properly – and I love the exercises, even when my muscles get sore, it makes me feel well. Best of all, I’m dancing again! I wish I had known about pulmonary rehabilitation years ago. I feel better — and happier today.