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 decided to take to blogging to share my experiences with other people in the hope that it can help others with similar health issues.
I was diagnosed with asthma when I was young, but managed to have an active childhood playing sports and 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.So severe was this episode,the paramedics that attended to me came and visited me in hospital 3 days later. They did not believe I had survived. This was a life changing moment, I gradually gave up the cigarettes,cut down drinking alcohol and started eating better. At the time of my stroke I was 88 kg about 20 kg over weight. My son had just started cycling and talked me into taking it up, best thing I ever did . The weight started coming off and 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 eight years I competed in varying distances of triathlons from sprint to Half Ironman as well as a couple of ultra marathons.
In 2011 after noticing my training times were getting slower, exercise was getting harder and I was constantly short of breath, I took myself off to the Doctors. Spirometry and lung function tests confirmed I had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with a FEV 1 <30% of predicted. That basically means my lungs are operating between 22-30% of there predicted capacity for someone of my age and height. I was told that I would possibly need a double lung transplant at some stage in the future. Surprisingly the scans showed that there was no visible damage to my lungs from smoking. My airways had become very narrow due to having chronic asthma and years of chest infections, causing a build up of scar tissue.
I rebuilt my life through positive lifestyle changes that included many hours of exercise and good nutritional choices. During my assessment for a lung transplant I was told that the best way to be a good candidate for a transplant was to be as fit and healthy as possible. Since that day I have been obsessive about my health and especially exercising.
In May 2012, nine months after diagnosis I completed my first Full Ironman event. The level of fitness I reached in this period improved my quality of life immensely and drove me to start this blog. Hopefully my blogs will give some insight into the benefits exercising has had in combating my COPD. You don't have to compete in Ironmans to improve your quality of life. You just have to exercise as much as you can and build your exercise capacity.