Smoke, Stroke, Ironman Bloke

My name is Russell Winwood, I was born in 1966 in Brisbane Australia. I’ve had a good life thus far but have had a few health issues along the way. I have decided to take to blogging to share my experiences with other people in the hope that it can help people with similar health issues. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was young, but managed to have an active childhood playing sports & doing what most kids do. In my late teens I started smoking socially, I’m not sure why as I knew it was bad for me but continue to be a social smoker until I was 36.

Christmas Day 2002 I collapsed , too many years of not looking after myself had caught up with me in the form of a stroke. Time to change my habits , I gave up the cigarettes , started eating better, at the time of my stroke I was 88 kg about 15 kg over weight . My son had just started cycling & talked me into taking it up, best thing I ever did . The weight started coming off & I started feeling like a 36 year old should.

A friend of mine suggested I should do a triathlon, & after a little hesitation because I wasn’t a great swimmer I agreed. So for the next 8yrs I raced into varying distances of triathlons from sprint to Half Ironman as well as a couple of ultra marathons.

In 2011 after noticing my times were getting slower, exercise was getting harder & I was constantly short of breath I took myself off to the Doctors. Spirometer & lung function tests confirmed I had copd, surprisingly the scan showed that there was no damage to my lungs from smoking. My airways had become very narrow due to years of chest infections causing a build up of scar tissue.







And so my Ironman journey begins , hopefully my blogs will give some insight on exercising with copd & respiratory disease in general.

9 comments on “Smoke, Stroke, Ironman Bloke

  1. Just passed two people running up this highway in Carrum/Edithvale wearing DonateLife colours, along with a few pink hat supporters. Very proud to see you out there, hope you finish well. Jodi


  2. Hi Russell, thanks for reaching out. Our stories are quite similar it seems! More and more I’m hearing of how people came to triathlon and the challenges they have since overcome. But it’s the love of the sport that keeps us going!


  3. Hi Russell, thanks for reaching out. It seems are stories are quite similar! More and more I’m hearing of the challenges traithletes have overcome, and it’s the love of the sport that keeps them going. Congrats on Melbourne IM! I’ll be doing my first full up in Cairns, I would love to meet up for a chat, one lung disease survivor to another ;)


  4. Sounds like a plan, be great to exchange thoughts. I have a guest blogger lined up to tell her very inspiring story in the next few weeks, would you be interested in doing a guest blog ?


  5. i have COPD. Diagnosed 7 yrs ago showing early signs of emphysema. I have been in the nursing field since I was 16… I just turned 44. I too crashed after not taking care of myself. I wore muself out and kept pushing forward and smoking away! I didn’t think it would ever happen to me but I got double pneumonia. CO 2 went above 105 and I was touching the hand of death! I was rushed to hospital straight to ICC floor where they got me hooked up to some machines which I assume I coded as they all sounded off they ventilated me stablized me and 3 1/2 days later they took me off the vent… 6 hrs after almost went into cardiac arrest due to anxiety and I was re ventilated for another 3 1/2 and they told my husband if I didn’t come off that time I would had a trachea done… But I did and I held on and did a lot of praying and that started 2-14-14 and I was released from the hospital 3-6-14. I took 36 rehab visits and thought I was doing good… Just on one liter of O2 and I can take it off in day time when I feel like I can I wear a bi-pap at night with 02 and that’s permanent. I’m still not exactly where I want to be yet but better and stronger. So I was surprised to know I was being referred to Vanderbilt to be evaluated for a double lung trasnplant. Lots of tests etc and then listed on a waiting list. All I can say to you is hold onto faith believe no matter what the Lord has his hands on you eat lots of veggies and fruit especially kale drink 8 8 oz glasses of water a day cut caffeine and sweets along with carbohydrates get your vaccines practice good hand washing and stay clear of lots of people who may be sick. Walk do weight baring exercises to stay strong. Keep ovine and if you feel bad don’t hesitate to get to the dr!! God bless and good luck


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