Program helps people get back on track

Gayle Gomez is pleased to see the weeds back under control at her Drumborg property.

Mrs Gomez admits her extensive garden got a bit messy after she was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) but Portland District Health’s pulmonary rehabilitation program has got her back on track.

“The weeds did take over when I first got this because I didn’t have the strength,” she said. “But now we have the hothouse under control, three vegie gardens fixed up and the flower garden back in order.”

After moving to the area from Melbourne to retire about three years ago with her husband Valentine, Mrs Gomez developed COPD over the past year.

“I’m an ex-smoker but I think it was also to do with moving to the country,” she said. “We have fireplaces and I was using chemicals in the garden and I think that triggered it.

“I wasn’t used to wearing masks because we had a small garden in Melbourne. Here it’s big and I’d be out there using chemicals without a mask which was a big mistake.”

After her diagnosis, Mrs Gomez’s GP recommended the PDH program. “I jumped on it and I’m glad I did,” she said. “When I started, I was very weak. Previously I was a very healthy, fit and active person, always outside in the garden. I really struggled to not be able to do things because I couldn’t breathe, but I’m now so much stronger.”

The PDH pulmonary rehabilitation program included sessions about nutrition and health, healthy living, changes to your body and how to use medication and breathing techniques.

Mrs Gomez worked on an exercise program with a pulmonary nurse and exercise therapist and has an ongoing workout program she can do from home in a shearing shed converted to a gym.

“I learnt so much about things I didn’t understand, while also confirming I was on the right track with others,” she said.

“I’ve got the medication right; the exercise and information programs were amazing and I don’t panic anymore.

“The people who run the program are all fantastic and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone with COPD.”

The 2022 theme for World COPD Day will be “Your Lungs for Life” and takes place on November 16.