JOSEPH

My advice would be that if people have a dry cough, and if they have to catch their breath when they’re speaking, then they should get it checked it out by their doctor.

I was diagnosed with IPF in March 2009 following a chest x-ray which was reviewed by the consultants and experts of the hospital. Diagnosis took two weeks. I was experiencing breathlessness when speaking and developed a dry cough and it was quite obvious to other people that there was a problem. A colleague asked me whether I had been working in a dusty environment as it was so noticeable. They recommended that I get a chest x-ray. IPF has had a significant impact on my life. I have difficulty walking up hills; it’s increasingly difficult to lift anything slightly heavy as well. I used to run a lot but now it’s almost impossible for me to run at all.

I have trouble bending over as it always makes me cough and lose my breath. I am quite restricted in terms of what I can do, I can’t walk very far anymore. I can’t help out in the garden or the house, so my wife has to do most of the everyday tasks. She has to get the shopping out of the car, do the gardening. We can’t really do things together anymore. So it also has a big impact on her life. My company was quite sympathetic to my condition and so I was able to continue to work until last year when I turned 65 without having to stop because of IPF. Walking is the main thing that I miss that I can no longer do. We were quite active walkers – we used to go on walking holidays in the countryside around Britain. My wife had to cancel a holiday recently because it would have been too hilly for me. Because I was diagnosed quite early and relatively young, they took steps to ensure I was seen on a regular basis at first and I got quite good care. Plenty of people get in touch and ask you to come and see them, I was asked to speak to a group of doctors training to be registrars in respiratory conditions. When I was first diagnosed I got quite a lot of information from my consultant. They give you a report of your consultations if you want them so I kept all of those. I also have a full lung function test quite regularly which tells me exactly how I’m doing. I had a look at the internet when I was first diagnosed but it’s mainly doom and gloom so I steer clear of it now. My advice would be that if people have a dry cough, and if they have to catch their breath when they’re speaking, then they should get it checked it out by their doctor.