Canadian Lung Association Blog

Larry’s new lungs: Part 2 – Learning how to cope with COPD

Larry_Graham_1When I first started going to pulmonary rehabilitation, which teaches breathing techniques and exercise to people with COPD and other lung diseases, I felt really out of place as I was only 47 years old and this group were all elderly seniors. However, I loved being with them and hearing their stories and I felt I had many grandmothers and grandfathers.

Rosario Holmes, a respiratory therapist at the Lung Association, really transformed the pulmonary rehab group. She took courses to learn how to exercise with our condition, and talked to the doctors and physiotherapists at the Rehab Centre, and patients were then being referred to her and coming to exercise daily, to learn how to cope with their illness and how to take their medicine correctly.

In 2000, our Pulmonary Maintenance Exercise Program was on its way and got bigger and better every year. We got treadmills, stationary bikes donated and leg machines and free weights from small 1lb, 2, 3, 4 lb weights to 5, 7, 8, and 10, 12lb up to 15 and 24lb weights. We were all getting stronger and staying out of the hospital less and certainly coping with our illness.

I was maintaining my health as well and taking my inhalers correctly and really enjoying my life.

Our group then got so big, so we moved to another location and more people joined our classes and more people with oxygen started coming. We all felt safe there with a professional person monitoring our breathing and exercises. Everyone with colds stayed home and you had to have quit smoking before you could attend classes. Those were the rules.

Tomorrow: Part 3: The big decision to go for a transplant

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Larry Graham

On October 21, 2012 I received a double lung transplant in Montreal after four years of being on supplemental oxygen and being on the transplant waiting list for 22 months. I still say it's a miracle and am trying to repay that miraculous gift everyday by paying it forward and telling my story to help other people waiting for organ transplants.

Posted in COPD, Stories

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