Living with a killer disease

Denham Thomas in his West View home
Denham Thomas in his West View home

A DAD today admitted “any infection could kill me” as he struggles with a life-threatening condition.

Denham Thomas, a former doorman on pubs and nightclubs around Hartlepool, is now constantly linked up to an oxygen supply and confined to a wheelchair.

His life has been devastated by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Denham, 59, from the West View area of Hartlepool, is convinced it’s down to the 50 cigarettes-a-day he used to smoke.

He smoked from 12 years old until COPD struck and terrified him into quitting when he was 40.

Today – on the day when a massive North-East campaign was launched to highlight the links between COPD and smoking – Denham backed the fight.

The West View area resident lives with his partner and full-time carer Debbie Myles, 47.

Together, they have a 12-year-old daughter Sadie.

Denham said COPD and last stage emphysema have ruined his life.

“I get up on an afternoon and it takes an hour to get ready.

“I have to get washed in a dish because I have panic attacks if I have a bath or a shower in case the steam affects me.

“I gradually get up. If I feel okay, I go out for a cuppa and then come back and watch television for the rest of the day. That is my day.”

Denham has twice almost died from COPD.

Four years ago, he woke in a hospital bed to find his family around him.

“The doctors had said it was touch and go for me.”

Two years ago, he faced another life-or-death fight when he contracted pneumonia, eventually pulling through.

He added: “I used to smoke 40 to 50 cigarettes a day and gradually felt myself getting worse.

“I tried everything to quit including hypnosis but it was the shock that persuaded me in the end.

“It got to the stage where I was struggling to get upstairs and then got COPD.

“My message to others is don’t smoke.

“If you do, pack in as soon as you can.

“I am living from day to day and my condition is gradually getting worse.

“I have to try and keep away from any infection because it could kill me.”

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