Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic, progressive lung condition with persistent symptoms of cough and breathlessness. Once called emphysema and chronic bronchitis, it is caused by exposure to harmful particles or gases that are inhaled. COPD Support Ireland are the national organisation supporting and advocating for those living with COPD, established in 2013 by people living with COPD with 33 support groups nationally
“That people living with COPD, live the life they want to live.”
Local Support Groups are the heart of our organisation and are always happy to see new members joining. Providing strength training and breathing classes tailored for COPD, they are a safe space where questions can be asked and answered by people who are living with the same condition over a post class cup of tea and chat.
We asked Mary to describe her journey with COPD and benefits of joining her local support group.
“In November 2014 after months of exacerbations I was diagnosed with COPD, which hit me with a bang. Thanks to my husband noticing a change in my health, I was taken to hospital where I was told I was in respiratory failure. I now live with this disease every second of every day. In the beginning, I had to take up to five medications, four times a day. I could never plan my day or to meet family or friends as I never knew from day to day if I was going to be up to it. Sadly, I missed out on so many Family/Friends Weddings and other occasions.
With the help of family, friends, the Drogheda COPD Support group, and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital COPD outreach team, I have learned to live with COPD and manage it through exercise and small lifestyle changes. It has not been easy, but I can now say I mostly enjoy everything I do, even being on oxygen 16 hours a day, something I never thought I would be able say. COPD has changed my life like so many others but with the right support, the hardest tasks become manageable and enjoyable again “
Another member talks about our singing for lung health class and how it’s helped her during COVID-19
“My name is Mary McDonnell, I’m a member of Clare COPD Support group. Approximately 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with COPD. At the time I was scared and felt alone, having to be put on an inhaler right away and worrying about the possibility of adjusting to life using oxygen. COPD left me exhausted, I was barely able to do my weekly grocery shopping or housework.
5 years ago, I joined the Ennis COPD support group which gave me deeper insight into COPD and helped me realise I’m not going to feel 100% every day, but I can control how I cope with the physical and mental challenges it brings. I felt hopeful. I wasn’t alone.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit, so I joined online SingStrong classes, taking me out of my comfort zone! There are so many benefits, my physical health has improved immensely, and I feel on top of the world. Ciara is so kind and patient, she is a brilliant instructor who understands our needs. Beginning each class with a guided meditation to centre ourselves and relax; followed by stomach breathing – strengthening our lungs, posture, and whole body from head to toes. Singing is a fun part of the classes, a new way to practice breathing techniques. It gives us something to look forward to, allows us to ask questions, speak on important issues and talk amongst ourselves about our lives.
I now feel confident managing my symptoms, which once took over my life, and I feel positive about the future. I enjoy things I didn’t think were possible when I was first diagnosed such as driving, cycling, hill climbing, beach walking and painting. The coping skills I have gained have enhanced my life.”
With proper treatment and support we can do much to improve the quality of life of people living with COPD. If you are over the age of 35 and suspect you have the symptoms of COPD, visit your GP for an initial assessment or call the COPD Adviceline on 1800 83 21 46 for more information.