‘You’ve got to be aware that sometimes you need to stop’

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A WOMAN who was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a disease which makes it hard to empty air out of your lungs and causes shortness of breath and tiredness, has spoken out about how it affects her, ahead of the launch of a new exercise programme for people with the condition.

Plans for the 12-week community-based exercise programme in Dublin were announced, in advance of World COPD Day on November 21.

Catherine Craig 01

Catherine Craig

Catherine Craig, who is originally from Ballyfermot and now lives in Palmerstown, was diagnosed with the condition, which mainly affects smokers, in 2013 after she had a chest infection.

Ms Craig gave up smoking two years before she was diagnosed, as she saw a friend who was also a smoker was encountering difficulty with breathing.

Explaining what it was like when she got diagnosed, Ms Craig, who works for the ISPCC, said: “I didn’t really understand what COPD was. When they said I had COPD I was like, ‘What’s that?’

“I just got a bad chest infection, and then I was diagnosed with COPD.”

COPD affects Ms Craig’s day-to-day life, but the severity varies and she regularly exercises and eats well in order to try to minimise the effect of COPD.

Ms Craig said: “It impacts on my life hugely, it means I’ve got to do everything more slowly.

“You’ve got to be aware that sometimes you need to stop. When I’m making a bed I have to do it in stages, I have to take rests.

“Living with COPD, it’s not like everything is on a menu – it’s not set out, it just happens.”

Managing her condition

Ms Craig then joined the Ballyfermot COPD Support Group, and has found their help and support has assisted her in managing her condition.

“Being in the group,” said Ms Craig, “it means I have someone to ring because they’ll understand what I’m feeling about the condition.”

Other things, like washing the dishes, can sap the energy of people with COPD, so the support group offers Ms Craig an outlet where she is surrounded by people who understand.

“We’re all in the same boat so we egg each other on. The group is hugely important, because a lot of people don’t know about COPD or understand what it is.”

The Ballyfermot COPD Support Group meet in Ballyfermot Library on the last Thursday of every month.

COPD Support Ireland, the umbrella body for 20 local COPD support groups, will be hosting community exercise events in Dublin for people who have the condition.

For more information on the programme, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 086 041 5128.

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