ALL Lol Iley wanted was to walk to the kitchen.
It’s not much to ask.
But when you’ve got a condition as debilitating as Chronice Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), it’s a huge achievement.
But now Lol’s wish has come true thanks to the expert help of specialist health workers.
Great-grandfather Lawrence (better known as Lol), 82, from the Stranton area of Hartlepool, is one of scores of people with chronic breathing conditions who are receiving help from health trainers at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
The father of three, grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of nine, who served in the RAF for 29 years, was diagnosed with COPD in 1999 and manages his condition with the help of oxygen.
Lead respiratory nurse Dorothy Wood from the trust’s community respiratory team at One Life Hartlepool, referred Lol to the trust’s health trainer service.
She said: People with chronic respiratory disease can become breathless just by doing simple everyday activities such as climbing a flight of stairs, or even getting washed and dressed in the morning.
“It is well known that they avoid physical activity because of these difficulties. However, by not doing any exercise can make symptoms of the disease worse.”
Senior health trainer Denise Murphy went along to meet Lol a few months ago.
She said: “I started working with Lol on some gentle seated exercises to improve his fitness. Lol was quite unwell and breathless which frightened him.”
She said he was not able to get around without his walking frame.
“He told me his goal was to be able to walk to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. That’s when I had a chat with him about how some gentle exercise could help him.
“I worked with Lol on such things as stretching, strengthening and gentle aerobic exercises which were the first steps to improving his strength, heart and lung capacity. Once Lol had got the hang of it, I left him with a booklet so he could work on them with this help of his son.”
Lol said: “It’s hard work at times. I do the exercises four days a week for 15 – 20 minutes.”
COPD is the name for a group of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
The main symptom of the illness is an inability to breathe in and out properly which is also known as airflow obstruction. Airflow obstruction is caused by long-term damage to the lungs.
Lol’s son Laurence helps him with the exercises. He even joins in.
He said: “My dad is walking much more than he used to. His fitness has improved.”
He said his dad now gets around and takes his walking frame with him, but he added: “He carries it in front of him and doesn’t actually put it on the floor.”
Denise said: “It has been amazing just to see in a short space of time what a difference a little bit of gentle exercise has made.
“He has been able to walk over the step and out into the street, which he hadn’t been able to do for a long time.”
“Lol has really put the effort in and it’s just lovely to see how this has started to improve his quality of life.
“Often people avoid exercise if they are short of breath but in doing so their fitness levels drop and they can feel more unwell because of it, its a vicious circle really. However, by taking part in some gentle exercise they can vastly improve their quality of life. To see peoples’ health improve and what a difference it can make is fantastic.”