Faces of COPD: Shane Grimes says 'I Won't Let This Disease Get Me'
Posted on November 13, 2017 |
No matter where you live or what you do, Shane’s story reminds us that COPD is a disease that affects individuals all around the world. Read on to learn more about Shane and how this horrible disease has affected him and what he’s doing to live a full life with COPD.
Shane was born in Adelaide, South Australia. At an early age he developed asthma, which he inherited from his mother, a chronic asthmatic. When Shane was 7, the family moved to Melton on the Yorke Peninsula, approximately 124 kilometers north of Adelaide.
“We moved there in hopes of improving our health. While living there we had very little problems with our asthma, not like it was in Adelaide.”
Shane started smoking at the age of 11. When he was 48, he had to have a chest X-ray as his asthma was getting worse. He then found out he “had a touch of emphysema. I should have listened to my mum and doctor and given up smoking. But I didn’t listen. I eventually stopped smoking with I was 52 when I was diagnosed with Stage 1 COPD.”
In February 2017, Shane’s COPD “hit rock bottom. I was rushed to the hospital in Maitland where I live, also on the Yorke Peninsula. I spent one month in hospital but because my breathing became critical and I had to have oxygen full time, I was flown by the Royal Doctors Flying Service to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide.”
While there, Shane had many tests including a lung function test, which showed him how severe his COPD really is. “My lung capacity is now down to 30% and my right lung is not working at all.”
Shane’s specialist suggested an endobronchial valve treatment in is left lung. If this treatment fails, Shane will need to be flown to Melbourne to have lung volume reduction surgery on his right lung to have half the lung removed “which will allow the remaining lung tissue to expand when I breathe in.”
Shane has the full support of his doctor, who is also a good friend, and from his partner and her family “who have all been amazing. I decided then to create my will and a care directive, similar to a power of attorney. My partner is my full-time caregiver and receives a caregiver’s pension from the government.
Because he was not coping well, Shane sees a psychologist every month. “I wouldn’t get out of bed when I was home and just wanted to be left alone. I was having all sorts of mood swings and my depression was in a really bad way. I was shutting everyone out and wanted to deal with my situation on my own.”
But Shane is “a lot better now. I won’t let this disease get me. I am trying everything I can, from exercising to rehab at a gym which is run by the hospital staff. I also have breathing techniques that I do several times each day and walk every day regardless of how out of breath I get. I am also drinking beetroot juice which I have been told will help lower blood pressure, improve oxygen levels, help with my breathing and help with my fatigue.”
Before Shane had COPD, he ran his own cleaning business seven days a week. “I had a very busy lifestyle and now it has come to a complete standstill. My specialist has told me that I will never be able to work again, but I am determined to push myself with my breathing techniques and rehab.”
For anyone’s who just been diagnosed with COPD, Shane’s advice is this: “Stop smoking, exercise regularly and eat correctly. Also, cut down on alcohol or stop like I did. Have a regular doctor and a specialist. A psychologist can be very helpful so you can talk about how you’re feeling. Get as much support and help as you can. Don’t shut out family and friends like I did and suffered worse because of it. See a dietician and do rehab.”
When Shane was diagnosed with COPD, he did a lot of web searches for information. He eventually came across the COPD Foundation website which he says “is the best by far”.
In recognition of COPD Awareness Month, the COPD Foundation is featuring a new "Faces of COPD" profile every day in November. The "A New Day, A New Face of COPD" blog series will highlight the stories of those who have been touched by COPD in any capacity. Tell your story by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or commenting below.