Tēnā kotou katoa

My name is Charlotte Pooley and I have COPD.

I started smoking cigarettes from a young age, I suppose from peer pressure.

I used to enjoy walking around the block (almost running) every day with a cigarette in my mouth.

I began to notice I was coughing a lot while walking and at night time in bed. I would go through a lot of tissues with all the phlegm I was coughing up. I went to the doctor and he told me to give the cigarettes up. I tried a few times with patches.

In 2001, I gave up for about eight months, but in the back of my mind I had to have that one more puff. So I did. This lasted a further six years.

On the 1st of March 2007, I had two cigarettes left. I decided to smoke them and I have never smoked again. It has been over nine years now since I gave up. 

Not long after I gave up I got sick with chest infections and shortness of breath and ended up in hospital. My family were very worried about my health.

During this time I was working for Nurse Maude as home care. My clients were worried about me because I was always puffing, short of breath and coughing. I decided to give up my job.

In 2011, I got very sick. Walking from my kitchen to my bedroom was a big effort. A nurse came to see me from the hospital to check my CPAP machine and was concerned about me. She rang the hospital and spoke to Dr Paul Tan. He told me on the phone to come into hospital. I went into the emergency department and I couldn't lie on their bed. After two weeks I was discharged home with an oxygen concentrator. This saved my life. I use it every night while I am sleeping.

My GP referred me to the Pulmonary Rehab programme in my area. I became very friendly with Louise, the Pulmonary Rehab nurse. I went to Pulmonary Rehab four times altogether. I am now a volunteer for the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Consumer Group, which I really enjoy.

My advice to others:
· Always have an extra stock of antibiotics. Don't wait until you are really sick to start taking them. Also, let your GP know.
· Joining Pulmonary Rehab groups has been the best thing for me and my family. I encourage others to give it a go.

Mā te Ātua tātou e tiaki manaaki mō ake tonu.

Charlotte's story first published in The Windmill by Canterbury Clinical Network and Canterbury Better Breathing Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme.