It’s a brisk October’s day and autumn is setting in. At the St David’s Hospice in Llandudno sits 73 year-old Bill Ganley from Llanddulas in Conwy. Looking at him you wouldn’t think that there was anything wrong with him, he looks just as healthy as any other man in their seventies.
But Bill unfortunately lives with pulmonary fibrosis, a lung condition that causes shortness of breath and persistent dry cough of which there is no cure, leaving patients trying to relieve symptoms and slow its progression.
Bill is a Day Care Patient at St David’s Hospice and has attended the St David’s Hospice Day Care Unit for the past ten weeks after being referred there by his consultant. Bill has lived with the condition for five years but has found it getting worse over the last 12 months.
With a smile on his face Bill has immediate praise for the work of the staff at St David’s Hospice. “Going to St David’s Hospice is the best thing that I have ever done. I love Thursdays at the Day Care Unit. When I first attended, I realised what a haven of peace it is. The care is very much patient driven. The staff and volunteers have time for everyone, particularly time to talk, they are so helpful. That’s why I think that National Lottery funding being used for projects like this is so important.”
As Bill talks about living with his condition you can hear the frustration in his voice about how difficult it is to deal with its symptoms. Bill has to deal with severe bouts of coughing several times a day for usually up to fifteen minutes at a time, though one instance saw him coughing heavily, non-stop for four hours causing him extreme exhaustion and pain as well as giving him anxiety attacks.
“Anxiety is a big problem with breathlessness. It can lead to panic, everything tightens up and there can be feelings of terror. Not sure if you are going to get your breath back. Learning techniques such as relaxation helps to slow everything down. Once you slow things down everything calms down.”
“Living with this lung condition can be very frustrating. But I can’t afford to let my lungs stop me continuing to have a normal life, so I try my best, if a little slower.”
“For patients with my condition, taking part in a fatigue, anxiety and breathing programme such as the new St David’s Hospice scheme would provide substantial help. Learning about coping strategies and how to overcome difficulties is so important.”
St David’s Hospice Ltd received £4,983 to support patients in the Conwy area living with fatigue, anxiety and breathlessness illnesses.