Breathing easy - reluctant participant to Superman
Tuli was about 15 when he first got pneumonia in his home country of Samoa. He went on to have numerous lung infections and developed COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and bronchiectasis, which can be a result of ongoing infections such as pneumonia.
Tuli was tired of constantly getting sick and going to the doctor for medication to get better.
Then one day he asked his wife to take him to the doctor, and that doctor told him about the Better Breathing course, a free eight-week pulmonary rehabilitation programme available for people with long-term breathing conditions like COPD.
“When I got home, I told my wife I don’t want to do that course. I can do my own exercises at home. I was quite determined that I wasn’t going to go. I was embarrassed and felt my English wasn’t good enough to go,” says Tuli.
But meanwhile, Tuli’s wife, Mary, accepted the place on his behalf. She then started encouraging him to go.
“I told him he has nothing to lose and that his health was important. After much persuasion he agreed to go,” says Mary.
“So, I went to the course and we learnt how to breathe properly and exercise at the same time. They also taught me about my medication and how to use my inhaler, which was amazing,” says Tuli.
“I met people who had the same condition as me, made friends and enjoyed myself. The team works hard and put a lot of work in. They pushed me hard and I feel better than I did before. I was really upset when the course finished because I looked forward to it every day.”
“He went from a reluctant participant to the first one arriving for each session. I feel he is a lot healthier. Now he is not as weezy or as chesty and he is doing more of the housework, which is great,” Mary added.
Before the course Tuli couldn’t walk to the top of the stairs without stopping.
“Then we went to the library and I said I’m going to walk from the bottom to the top of the stairs. I did it, I couldn’t believe it. I was amazed,” says Tuli.
Since attending the programme, he spends more time in the garden, goes for walks, goes shopping with Mary and goes to the gym with others from the course twice a week.
“I’m not mad at Mary now for encouraging me to go. I’m grateful she stood strong and I’m grateful to the Better Breathing team.
“My advice to other people is to not wait. Talk to your doctor about going on the course. If you are shy and reluctant like me, you have to change. If you don’t, you don’t know what you are missing. I went and I now feel on top of the world and I feel like Superman.”
“We have both learnt from this course and we can walk into the future armed with this knowledge,” says Mary.
If you are interested in attending a Better Breathing pulmonary rehabilitation programme, phone (03) 353‑9973, or talk to your general practice team to see if it’s right for you.
Watch Tuli's story.
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