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Classes to help you breathe easy again

Mandy BridgewaterEx-smoker Mandy Bridgewater suffers from chronic lung disease. But a special course has helped to breathe new life into her. Former community carer Mandy, 43, can only use 28 per cent of her lungs because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The disease affects more than 13,000 people across east Kent.

But Mandy says sessions run by the NHS have given her a new lease of life. The mum from Herne Bay had the disease diagnosed 11 years ago and immediately gave up smoking. But she said:

“The cold weather makes it much more difficult to breathe. As I have just 28 per cent lung capacity, getting up and down stairs can be difficult and I suffer with panic attacks. But the NHS course was brilliant. It gave me information about my condition and tips on how to manage it, like how to calm down when I am having an episode. Nurses also noticed I wasn’t using my inhaler correctly and getting the full benefit of my medication. The exercise classes are fantastic. They helped me build strength in my lungs and open my airways. The respiratory nurses talk to small groups so we can ask questions. It was great to meet people in the same boat. It helped me feel less self-conscious.”

Also on the course was Ian Dowler, 66, of Canterbury Road, Wingham. At one stage he could not even walk around a supermarket and had to rest every five minutes. He became so out of breath he could not play with his six grandchildren. He is now trying to stop smoking. The former truck fitter said:

“I was walking around like I was drunk. Everywhere I went I was staggering and puffing and panting. The course has been fantastic. I can walk all the way to the village and back and I’m not the least bit puffed.”

Dr Simon Dunn, who runs the one-hour courses over eight weeks, said:

“I am pleased patients have good access to this vital service. It empowers them to manage their condition, improves their respiratory health and helps keep them out of hospital. It encourages them to get out and about and to live a fuller life despite their condition.”

To find out if you are eligible for pulmonary rehabilitation, speak to your GP or practice nurse.

thisiskent 10th Jan 2012

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