I have always been a very fit and strong person, when i was young i was a provincial swimmer and after finishing school i joined the army where i spent 9 years of my life as a Marine in a very tough specialized unit The Amphibious Boat Squadron, we were renowned for our extreme levels of fitness and highly specialized training.
When i left the Military i worked for the Health and Racquet club, now known as Virgin Active.
It was during this time that an incident occurred that has come back to haunt me 20 odd years later.
While working in the Sandton health and racquet club , one afternoon we had to evacuate the club due to the fact that one of the maintenance staff had inadvertently pulled a pipe off a full chlorine gas cylinder. As we were concerned that the children had not all been cleared out of the club I took action. Being extremely fit, I believed that i could hold my breathe long enough to go manually close the tank and thereby reduce the area affected by the gas.
Well i managed to close the tank but could not hold my breathe long enough and inhaled chlorine gas and burnt my lungs.
I had no medical aid!
The Russian Dr at the hospital (Barragwana), told me that it was not possible to repair the damage, but because i was young it would not affect me till i was an old man !!! …and he was right …up to a point it did not affect me for many years, but it did catch up to me still at a young age, oh and lets not get away from the fact that as a complete fool, i also smoked. ( I did quit 6 years ago….but too late)
Anyway about 8 years ago i found myself getting short of breath very easily and I put it down to age and not exercising much.
It got progressively worse over the next year, coughing all the time, losing my breath…
At first the Dr said it was asthma and treated me accordingly, but they were wrong, very wrong!
The day came when my wife rushed me to the emergency as i couldn’t breath, i can never explain the absolute fear and terror at not being able to breath
…..it just cant be explained.
in 2012 i was diagnosed with severe COPD, I only had 21% lung function left …..the only course left for me was a bi lateral lung transplant ( both lungs).
But i was massively overweight , so although the medical aid approved the procedure , i could not be listed for a transplant due to my weight, i weighed 132 kg at this stage.
So my life of hell began, i got boarded for ill health and was on supplementary oxygen 24 hours a day, i didn’t at that stage even consider trying to lose weight or get into shape, i thought i was going to die soon, gosh i hoped for it, my life was a living hell, spending weeks at a time in hospital, not being able to breathe. i could barely walk from the bed to the on suite bathroom……i don’t think i can ever truly explain what it was like, no self-esteem left , my marriage suffered and buckled under it all, we have barely managed to hang onto something that i thought was unbreakable……
One morning late in 2014 i woke up and ……well yes just like that… I decided to change things around, i was still alive dammit and my pity party was over.
I was going to use everything inside of me to fight my situation, so it started…..eating healthy, good supplements….and i lost 10kg like this and suddenly i could start exercising. In the beginning it consisted of sitting and tensing my muscles until i was tired, then standing up and sitting down, then very light weight and walking on the treadmill that a friend kindly lent to me. The first day i managed to walk for 2 minutes without resting…that was huge and then it started a little bit every day more and more, still on oxygen. The Dr. had said i would be on supplementary oxygen for the rest of my life.
December 2015 arrived , i had lost 29kg! – and although i was still on oxygen my ability to do many activities had increased 10 fold , we came to Port Elizabeth to visit my family…well i found that because of the altitude, clean air and my improved fitness ……..i no longer needed to be on supplementary oxygen so i relocated to Port Elizabeth in Feb 2016. I now walk between 2 and 5 km daily, i now weigh 98 kg – Thats a total weight loss of 34 kg!
My lung function is currently 24% and the day will come when i will have to have a Bi Lateral lung transplant….but NOT today Not TODAY.