Living with COPD

By Mary Dennehy

A grandmother who was diagnosed with a chronic lung condition in 2012 has encouraged people to be COPD aware, and to attend a free public education event in Tallaght on November 15.

Mary Dunning (66), from Clondalkin, who is a patient of Tallaght University Hospital, visited her GP after she started to struggle going up the stairs in work.

Mary Dunning 04

Mary Dunning

“When I was working I used to have to climb up stairs and gradually, over time, I noticed I was getting more and more breathless,” Mary told The Echo.

“My GP sent me for a breath test and I was diagnosed with COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease].”

A chronic lung condition, COPD results in the airways getting smaller, leading to airflow obstruction.

It can result in shortness of breath or tiredness as patients work harder to breath.

Living with her sister Ann, who is her carer, Mary had a tough few years at the start – picking up pneumonia five times in one year.

However, despite now being on oxygen both day and night, Mary has not let COPD define her, and has learned how to manage the condition – and continue lunching with her friends.

“It is so important to get out-and-about and meet with your friends,” Mary said.

“I eventually ended up needing to go on oxygen both at night time and during the day, which I have to bring with me when I go out.

“I can’t walk carrying the oxygen so I got myself a little mobility scooter to get around and I absolutely love it, it’s the best craic.”

She added: “It took me awhile to know my body, know my capabilities.

“When you learn how to understand your body and how to manage, COPD is not as frightening.

“It doesn’t stop me getting up in the morning and doing my hair, my make-up and my tan.

“I’m still driving as well, and love driving.”

Availing of the support on offer

Mary, who has three children and nine grandchildren, stressed how important it is to learn how to cope with your own body when diagnosed with COPD, alongside availing of the support on offer from within a community setting.

“For anyone recently diagnosed with COPD, they should take a while to let it sink in and when they’re ready, talk to other people who have it,” Mary said.

“It’s also important to take support from Tallaght Hospital, which has been excellent to me.

“Outreach nurses also come out to me in my home and check that I’m managing ok.”

On Thursday, November 15, Tallaght University Hospital is holding a free public education event at 10am in Rua Red, Tallaght, called ‘COPD – never too early, never too late’.

The event will focus on the changes people can make to improve their health following a diagnosis, and include time for audience questions.

Run in partnership with Tallaght COPD Support Group, the event is open to all members of the public.

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