London Marathon and Respiratory Hero’s


In a little under 7 weeks I’ll be running in the London marathon as a British Lung Foundation team breathe member. Running for a charity close to my heart is an honour that will always be a highlight of the events I do. Marathon day is also my birthday and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate it.

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Training

Training for the London marathon has been difficult as its summer in Australia and running is hard enough as a COPD patient, running in the heat just compounds the difficulties I have breathing. I’ve stuck to coach Doug’s training program from the New York and Gold Coast marathons as much as I can. The heat has restricted the amount of running I’ve done and some of my long runs have had to be on a treadmill. My training times have been pretty close to previous training so I’m confident that once I arrive in the cool London temperatures I’ll manage much better.

london-training

I was aiming to run under 5 hours for this race but due to a less than ideal preparation I’ll be happy with around 5 ½ hours. While times really don’t mean a lot to anyone else I use it as a goal to improve. For me the faster I am the fitter I am, which translates to a better quality of life. This same theory can be applied to other patients with lung disease and you don’t have to run marathons to realise the benefits of just being more active.

For those who have followed my journey you would know nutrition plays a big part in my lifestyle. For the last 5 months I’ve been on the highly controversial ketogenic diet as I have written about in Bio-hacking COPD. I have enjoyed eating this way and believe, for me, I have benefited being in a state of ketosis. I’m conducting blood and lung function tests and will publish the results after my run in the London marathon. What I can say so far is this diet has significantly suppressed my inflammation markers.

Fundraising

My main goal for the London marathon is to raise as much money as possible for the British Lung Foundation and I would like to thank those who have donated so far. On the 22nd of March I’ll be giving a Skype presentation for a patient group in California as part of a respiratory expo. The organisers have agreed to direct exhibitors to donate to my British Lung Foundation fundraising page. While I’m not from the U.K I do believe in fund raising for any organisation that uses funds for research into respiratory disease. Research benefits us all no matter what country it takes place in. So if you have some loose change please
click here and help me help others.

The Sponsors

Many of you would know I am the Philips COPD brand ambassador for Australia and New Zealand and proud to be in this role. I use a Philips oxygen concentrator when I fly or if I’m at altitude such as mountainous regions. While its not my role to promote Philips I have found their products easy to use and reliable. I’m thankful I don’t require oxygen in everyday life as many patients do, but I do rely on it as mentioned when at high altitude.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have SKINS as my clothing sponsor and have found their compression clothing fantastic. When you think of a compression clothing company, you think of elite athletes. I find the SKINS clothing beneficial for minimising soreness in my legs and the compression shirts aid in having good posture while exercising.

National Asthma Council of Australia have been great supporters of mine over the years and have a great panel of experts with many years of experience in respiratory disease. Their website is a very useful resource for patients and their carers. I would urge everyone with respiratory disease to take a look, no matter what country you live in.

Woodland Shopfitting are not involved in the respiratory world but see the value in what in my message to patients – Never Let Your Disease Define You! This company supported me in my New York marathon campaign and are onboard again with the London marathon. They truly show what community support is all about.

This last year we’ve seen a number of respiratory patients achieve great things, from Evan Wilson’s amazing Seattle marathon run with oxygen to Peter Moore’s recent mile swim in South Africa under oxygen. This current year Mary Rose Kitlowski will tackle the New York marathon with portable oxygen. These great ambassadors not only shine a light on their disease, but also show just what is possible. Respiratory patients uniting for a common cause is a great thing that we should all be proud of. It’s never about the individual, it’s about coming together and raising awareness so more research is done to better our quality of life.

London marathon fundraising


Each year I raise funds for research into lung disease. In 2015 I raised over $10,000 usd for the America Lung Association through my New York Marathon run. This year on April 23rd ( my birthday) I will be running the London marathon for the British Lung Foundation. I need your help to raise funds for research into lung disease. No matter how big or small, your contribution will be greatly appreciated. All funds go directly to the British Lung Foundation. So please click here and help make a difference.

COPD Bio-hacking


I know what you’re thinking, this guy is mad! Perhaps a little but what if we can improve our quality of life through sensible experimentation? Would you do it?

What is Bio-hacking?

Wikipedia’s definition of bio-hacking is do-it-yourself biology, a social movement in which individuals and organisations pursue biology and life science with tools equivalent to those of professional labs. I think that’s a reasonably accurate description to what I’m doing. Before I started down this rabbit hole I had to make sure what wanted to do is safe.

I embarked on 3 months of research, adsorbing as much information as possible from leading experts around the globe. After gathering this information and receiving further advice about certain tests I needed, I started on this new adventure.

So what am I talking about?

It all started when a certain healthcare professional, with many years’ experience in respiratory medicine, suggested I listen to a Tim Ferriss podcast. Some of you may ask, who is Tim Ferriss? Tim is a New York Times bestselling author who has a very popular podcast. His guests on the podcast are people with extraordinary talents in their chosen field. Tim deconstructs his guests to expose the secrets of their success.

The podcast I was directed to was an interview with a research scientist at the cutting edge of his field. Dr. Dominic D’Agostino P.H.D. is one of a group of scientists around the world researching metabolic therapies and the effect a ketogenic diet has on certain chronic diseases. His laboratory develops and tests metabolic therapies for CNS oxygen toxicity (seizures), epilepsy, neurodegenerative diseases, brain cancer and metastatic cancer.

This podcast delves deeply into the world of ketones and their effects on our body. After listening to 3 hours of information, which I only partially understood, I decided I needed to explore the world of the ketogenic diet and so my adventure began.

What is a ketogenic diet?

There are a few variations of the ketogenic diet, however they all derive the majority of their macro-nutrients from fat. The strict ketogenic diet, used to help manage metabolic diseases, is comprised with approximately 80% fat, 15% protein and 5% carbohydrates. Fats are to be sourced from plant, animal saturated and monounsaturated fats. Carbohydrates should come from leafy green vegetables and berries.

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The simple explanation for the formulation of this diet is to change our body from using carbohydrates as our primary fuel source to ketones for fuel. Ketones are a naturally occurring fuel that is made by the liver from fatty acids. However, ketones can only be made if carbohydrates and protein are significantly reduced.

This diet is not new, it’s been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920’s and it is probably how many civilizations ate thousands of years ago. In recent years, there has been a focus on developing Ketone supplements. These supplements help elevate ketone levels as well as making the sometimes-bumpy transition over to ketosis a little easier. This is a very basic overview of the ketogenic diet for more information about ketosis I would recommend going to Keto Nutrition which has links to a wide range of resources. The Charlie Foundation also has a wealth of useful information including the story of Charlie, who the foundation was named after.

Ketosis and COPD

So why am I experimenting with ketosis? There are two main reasons I believe this diet can help me and other COPD patients. Firstly, the ketogenic diet has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties: COPD and Asthma can be triggered by inflammation of the airways. Secondly, there is some evidence that suggest using ketones as your primary fuel source allows your muscles to use oxygen more effectively.

To be clear, there are no studies directly linking COPD and a ketogenic diet. There are studies suggesting a ketogenic diet can have a suppressing effect on the NRLP3 inflammasome. We now know there is a link between the NRLP3 inflammasome and COPD. What if we can block the NRLP3 inflammasome through a diet. Would doing this influence a COPD patient’s symptoms?

In the last 12 months I’ve realised just how much what we eat can impact on how we feel, whether or not we have a chronic disease. In January 2016, I adopted a low carbohydrate diet which I believe was paramount in my Gold Coast marathon PB. Going from a low carbohydrate diet to a ketogenic diet has not been too difficult for me. While I’m excited by what I may discover on this period of self-experimentation, I will keep in close contact with my doctors and listen to their advice.

I have conducted base line blood tests and pulmonary function tests which I will use to compare with follow up tests to be carried out two weeks before I leave to complete in the London marathon.

Early results

At the time of writing this article I have been in nutritional ketosis for 3 months and have already seen noticeable differences in energy levels and feeling less breathless. Could this be a placebo effect or is there more to it? My first round of blood tests since starting the diet have suggested there is something going on. For those of you who are thinking by eating a high fat diet your cholesterol will be significantly elevated, there is no indication of this so far. In-fact the only change in my cholesterol is a rise in my HDL (good cholesterol).

The information here is my personal experience and applies to me and my disease.If the ketogenic diet is of interest to you than I would suggest contacting your doctor to discuss whether this diet is right for you. While most people can adapt to this way of eating there are some people who should not travel this road, you should be guided by your doctor’s advice.

I will continue to update everyone on my progress through this website and the COPD Athlete FB page. I hope after 6 months of this diet I will have data showing the pros and cons of ketosis.

If what the science tells us is true, there may well be some benefits to maintaining a mild state of ketosis. This could be through diet or the rapidly developing world of ketone supplements.

SKINS K-Proprium Tights


I love surprises

Every now and then a product comes along that just says WOW! Indeed, that was my first thought when I opened a very stylish box sent to me by SKINS. My second thought was – if this product performs half as good as it looks then I’m going to be mighty impressed. Seriously these are my new going out pants – I am 50!

The K-Proprium Tights are the latest offering from SKINS that once again raises the bar in performance clothing. They say it will make me run – “longer, faster and stronger”. Laminar Bands externally stimulate the proprioceptive sensors in the prime movers, keeping muscles activated and controlled so you can go harder for longer. You have to love the sound of that!

Only one way to find out – A road test, COPD style!

The first time I tried on the SKINS K-Proprium Tights I was amazed by how precise the fit was, it is like they were tailor made for me. This feeling transformed my mindset from respiratory patient to Usain Bolt. An athlete’s mindset is very important whether it’s race day or training day, so this was a great start.

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I decided to do some comparison runs with and without the K-Proprium. The first two runs were 10k followed by a 21k a few weeks later. From my first stride, I could notice my form felt stronger which for me is a great guide for how the rest of my run will go. I didn’t set any PB’s and I was not trying to do so, I felt in control and strong. When you are operating on less than a third lung capacity you need all the help you can get.

The comparison runs I did were all at the same tempo 70% of my VO2 and my focus was on how my body felt during and after each run. Another factor I had to consider was the 30C + temps of our summer.

The Result

“Longer, Faster, Stronger?” Faster – is not applicable to me and while I did feel like Usain Bolt, I suspect he has my measure. Longer and Stronger – no doubt. The K-Proprium delivered as advertised. These tights offer me exceptional support keeping my form strong and my muscles fresh. The two 10k runs were totally different. With SKINS on the run was definitely less taxing and more enjoyable as was my 21k run. After both runs with SKINS on, my recovery was sensational, no soreness the next day. I had concerns that I would over heat wearing SKINS in such hot conditions, this was never a factor as they breathe superbly.

Should You Purchase?

If you are looking for that missing XFACTOR in training or on race day, then why not. They are a premium product. SKINS are only making 10,000 of the K-Proprium so whether you’re an elite athlete, a weekend warrior or a fashion-conscious plodder like yours truly, the K-Proprium will light your fire!

#KProChallenge

European Medical Journal – The Four Pillars of Living Well with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease


 

The following article is a guide on how I live my life. I have come to believe these four principals are the key to my quality of life. If you are looking to improve your quality of life I urge you to discuss the four pillars with your doctor. It has worked for me and I believe it can work for you.

The Four Pillars of Living Well with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

 

Setting the record straight!


Over the past six weeks I have been harassed and subjected to insulting and defamatory comments via email and social media.  Originally I thought it beneficial to name the person / people / organisation doing this, but what I have realised is that provides them with more “air”, and would mean I am stooping to their level, which goes against what I promote and would make me a hypocrite.

I was invited along with two other respiratory patients,  to France to ride in what I thought was an awareness ride for respiratory disease patients. We cycled under the banner of the COPD World Team.

On my return to Australia I was emailed demanding my lung function tests. It had been decided I was probably a stage 2-3 COPD patient or just had asthma. I was informed the “COPD World Team” wanted answers along with thousands of others about how I performed so well in the event.  I think it reasonable to expect that prior to being invited to such an event, one would have completed their “due diligence” and would be completely converse with who I am, what I say I am, and what my disease is, not after the event is completed and I have returned to Australia.  Again, I confirm I was invited to attend this event. At no stage did I ask to go – they contacted me and asked me to attend a fully funded event.

These cyber trolls fail to understand the level of fitness needed to complete 3 Ironman events and 2 marathons is far more than what’s need to ride 46 kilometres. An Ironman cycle leg alone is 180 kilometres.  I initially refused to provide this information, as medical records are very private information and I suspected it wouldn’t be used in a meaningful way. After persistent harassment and threats, I agreed to provide a doctor with my medical details and a report from my respiratory specialist with his diagnosis, but told the doctor the details should not be shared with anyone else, as I have a firm belief a person’s medical data, is exactly that, personal and none of anyone else’s business.

I awoke last Saturday morning to a post on the relevant FB page stating “Breaking News”. These bullies was telling the world I hadn’t provided them with adequate details about my disease status and it was still in question. As well as this, I was being black banned by his organisation. I’d already told them several weeks earlier that I had no desire to be a part of his team or organisation, as they didn’t hold the same agenda or standards I do. It was also stated that if I didn’t provide more detail he will be sending out a press release in 7 days, Friday November 18.

The information which had been provided to their doctor is the same as I have provided all medical professionals when entering a race, as they require this information to verify my condition and whether, in their opinion, I can safely compete. Doctors have always been able to determine my health status with this information up until now, and have admired what I can do with my level of disease. Apparently, this specific medical person does not hold the same skill level to enable them to determine my diagnosis with the same information.

COPD should never be a competition about who is the sickest. Our disease is individual and varies from patient to patient. I know COPD patients whose exercise performance is far greater than mine, just as mine is greater than others. You can never compare performances of patients with respiratory disease as we are all different. What we should be doing is encouraging other patients to take charge of their disease, eat well, exercise well and live a better quality of life!

Below is the latest up to date definition and grouping/staging of COPD from The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). It contains the old staging system and the new group system. The pages following are my pulmonary function and exercise testing from last year. My FEV1 over the last 5 years has varied between 22% and 30% but generally 1lt or under. These tests were carried out 5 weeks prior to my run in the 2015 New York marathon and show improved exercise test results after a 26-week training program.

The purpose of this post is to “set the record straight”.  It is not to vilify another COPD patient, but to confirm the facts and not promote the lies any further.  I have been accused of being a liar and a fraud and in the latest post “a monster”.  Perhaps it’s time to realise I am not the only person being impacted by this nonsense.  My wife, my children, step children, siblings and elderly parents along with extended family and other COPD patients have been reading all of the horrific things being purported about be.

This will be the last time I am in communication with or about this issue.  The black ban from this organisation can continue all  it likes and I will not be entertaining it any longer.  It is a negative and pointless waste of my time.  It only serves to hurt my family and my friends in the COPD World, whom I have far too much respect and affection for.  No negative or derogatory comments will be acceptable on this post, and if made will be deleted immediately upon being seen.

I am supported by my team of medical professionals and corporate sponsors in Australia and New Zealand; people and organisations, as detailed on my page, who recognise my authenticity and the integrity of what I am doing to help people with Lung disease : use positivity, exercise and nutrition to improve their lives.   NEVER LET YOUR DISEASE DEFINE YOU!!

 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Definition, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and staging

Authors
MeiLan King Han, MD, MS
Mark T Dransfield, MD
Fernando J Martinez, MD, MS

Section Editor
James K Stoller, MD, MS

Deputy Editor
Helen Hollingsworth, MD

Contributor disclosures

All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.

Literature review current through: Oct 2016. | This topic last updated: Apr 08, 2016.

COPD — The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), a project initiated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the World Health Organization (WHO), defines COPD as follows [7]:

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a common preventable and treatable disease, is characterized by persistent airflow limitation that is usually progressive and associated with an enhanced chronic inflammatory response in the airways and the lung to noxious particles or gases. Exacerbations and comorbidities contribute to the overall severity in individual patients.”

GOLD system — The GOLD therapeutic strategy suggests using a combination of an individual’s symptoms, history of exacerbations, hospitalizations due to exacerbations and FEV1 to assess the exacerbation risk and guide therapy [7]. Symptom severity is assessed using the CAT or mMRC. Lung function in addition to the number of exacerbations and hospitalizations for exacerbations in the previous 12 months can be used to predict future risk. The severity of lung function impairment is stratified based on the postbronchodilator FEV1, using the GOLD classification (table 3). A history of zero or one exacerbation in the past 12 months and GOLD 1 or 2 spirometric level suggests a low future risk of exacerbations, while two or more exacerbations or a hospitalized exacerbation or GOLD 3 or 4 spirometric level suggest a high future risk [7]. These three components are combined into four groups as follows:

  • Group A: Low risk, less symptoms: Typically GOLD 1 or GOLD 2 (mild or moderate airflow limitation) and 0 to 1 exacerbation per year and no hospitalization for exacerbation; and CAT score <10 or mMRC grade 0 to 1.
  • Group B: Low risk, more symptoms: Typically GOLD 1 or GOLD 2 (mild or moderate airflow limitation) and 0 to 1 exacerbation per year and no hospitalization for exacerbation; and CAT score ≥10 or mMRC grade ≥2
  • Group C: High risk, less symptoms: Typically GOLD 3 or GOLD 4 (severe or very severe airflow limitation) and/or ≥2 exacerbations per year or ≥1 hospitalization for exacerbation; and CAT score <10 or mMRC grade 0 to 1.
  • Group D: High risk, more symptoms: Typically GOLD 3 or GOLD 4 (severe or very severe airflow limitation)and/or ≥2 exacerbations per year or ≥1 hospitalization for exacerbation; and CAT score ≥10 or mMRC grade ≥2

 

The GOLD expert panel classified COPD into 4 or 5 stages, ranging from 0 to 4:

 Stage  Characteristics
0: At risk Normal Spirometry
Chronic Symptoms (cough, sputum production)
GOLD 0 was introduced in the GOLD 2001 publication, but was no longer used in GOLD 2010
1: Mild COPD FEV1/FVC < 70%
FEV1 > or equal to 80% predicted
With or without chronic symptoms (cough, sputum production)
2: Moderate COPD FEV1/FVC < 70%
FEV1 between 50 and 80% predicted
With or without chronic symptoms (cough, sputum production)
3: Severe COPD FEV1/FVC < 70%
FEV1 between 30 and 50% predicted
With or without chronic symptoms (cough, sputum production)
4: Very Severe COPD FEV1/FVC < 70%
FEV1 < or equal to 30% predicted or FEV1 < 50% predicted plus chronic respiratory failure

In bold type is the corresponding group/stage which is circled on my respiratory function test.

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respiratory-test

So you want to run a marathon?


Since running in the New York marathon in 2015 it’s been amazing the amount of people with lung disease who have contacted me about their own running ambitions. From awareness walks to running full marathons. Seems like patients want to chase the dreams they previously thought were out of their reach. While it’s fantastic patients have these ambitions the fact is it takes time and dedication. So I thought I’d give you all a quick 101 on event running for people with lung disease.

The mind

Whether you’re preparing for a short event or a marathon the first and most important rule is making sure you’re in the right head space. Most of you would know that just walking up stairs can take your breath away so be prepared that you will experience quite a lot of this. Not that being breathless while training is necessarily a bad thing, as long as you are training within your limits.

Some tipsI share with people before they start training is to focus on why you’re doing this and what is your end goal. Having this point of focus firmly planted in your mind will be the reason you keep training and what will keep you in the game on race day. A healthy athlete will have to deal with muscle fatigue, cramping and other injuries. We as respiratory patients have to deal with these problems plus the fact we have a severe breathing impairment. If you are having second thoughts already then you’ll have to work on your mind.

Your doctor

Once you have decided on the event you will target you’ll have to work out a training plan. The first step in designing a training plan is consulting your doctor to work out your exercise limits and whether you’ll be able to do the training required. Before my first event my doctor sent me off to have exercise stress testing so he could figure out what my limitations were. To be able to have effective training sessions you need to know how much you can safely push yourself. In my case my doctor’s main instruction was to not raise my heart rate over 150 bph. My exercise testing had shown my oxygen saturation levels started to drop at this point.

If you have a doctor who is happy to design a program with your trainer then you will be in a strong position to reach your goal. It’s also a good idea to keep your doctor updated with your progress so they can make any adjustments or recommendations along the way. Remember a good doctor will encourage you to be active and achieve your goals.

Equipment

This will vary between patients and their particular needs such as their oxygen requirements. I have run and cycled with the Philips SimplyGo mini backpack oxygen concentrator and found it pretty comfortable, of course this will only be useful if you can get by with just a portable oxygen concentrator. My must have pieces of equipment are my Garmin 920xt which measures my heart rate, distance, pace and stride. This is a little overkill as I’m a statics man, a simple heart rate monitor will do the trick. A Pulse oximeter is also crucial as this will let you know if your oxygen levels are dropping while you’re training.

Good quality runners are so important not only so you’re comfortable but to limit your exposure to injury. If the budget allows then spend a few extra dollars on comfortable running clothes. Being comfortable while training and racing will make the experience more enjoyable. I’m also a big fan of quality running socks that combine comfort and have the ability to take moisture away from your feet to avoid blisters.

I’ve previously written about SKINS clothing and would highly recommend the A400 shorts and top. While some patients are put off with the whole compression idea, especially on their chest, I personally found it didn’t make me feel constricted and aided in opening up my chest.

Training program

First of all, if you are a respiratory patient planning to run a marathon be prepared for many months of hard work. I would strongly suggest you start with a shorter race and build up to the marathon distance. Finishing the race is one thing, finishing without putting yourself at risk is the priority. Building an endurance body takes time.

Having a trainer or coach who can design you a training program in conjunction with your doctor is best practice. Training programs can differ in many ways depending on what your goal is. A training program for a five kilometre walk/run will differ greatly from a marathon program. Work out the pace you’d like to archive and discuss this with your trainer. Remember your pace is yours and you can determine what that is, of course you will have to keep in mind any cutoff time imposed by race organisers, these are normally found in the race conditions.

It’s important to give yourself recovery periods during your training program as you will be asking a lot of your body and mind, recovery is a critical part of training. Your trainer will build in rest days to your program if you are feeling it’s not enough as you move through the program then make sure you make your trainer aware. Most trainers will appreciate feed back as they have a vested interest in you achieving your goal.

My marathon program is 26 weeks in length which many of you will think is a long, long time. Truth is, it is a long time, but for my goals and what I want to archive out of a race I need 26 weeks. Currently I’m training for an upcoming triathlon which will be a 10 week training program but come October 30th I will commence my 26 week program into the 2017 London marathon.

Remember you’re starting point is the level of fitness you have before you commence training, this will determine how easily you adapt to your training program. If running events is your chosen goal, then look at it as a lifestyle change and allow your body to adjust. Running is the hardest activity for a respiratory patient to take up but what I’ve learned is running is the most beneficial to my respiratory system.

Set your goals, prepare well, race well and be proud of what you achieve!

SKINS compression clothing and COPD 


Most people who have followed my journey know that while I’m very active I’m not very fast. So imagine my surprise when SKINS approached me about trialling some of their high tech compression clothing. Isn’t this something you’d ask a pro athlete to do? With this in mind my review is based on my experience and how I think respiratory patients may benefit from the products I tested.

A400 running power shorts

I must admit I have tried compression clothing before and have struggled to find to many benefits. I used these shorts running 5k and then 10k a week apart. I did the same distances without the A400’s a week before. Two things that stood out while running in the SKINS A400 shorts, recovery and speed.

As soon as you start running in these compression shorts the first thing you notice is the support they offer. My stride felt quite different, rather than feeling like the shuffler, an apt description to my running stride, I felt like a runner with a efficient stride. To support this new found run stride my 5k run was a PB. As far as recovery was concerned there was no doubt in my mind my legs felt fresher after the 10k run than ever before. The freshness in my legs could have been attributed to my improved run stride or the stated increase in blood flow and oxygen to the hard working muscles. Either way the A400 shorts are responsible and a new inclusion to my running gear.

Could my fellow respiratory patients derive benefits from these compression shorts? Yes, especially if you are someone who enjoys brisk walks or a slow jog. While in the past many respiratory patients would not have looked twice at a compression garment it’s a different story today with a growing number of patients becoming active.


A400 short sleeve compression top

Apart from helping me keep warm which it did, I didn’t expect to see a lot of upside in wearing the A400 top. Wrong! After squeezing into the A400 top I was amazed at the support this garment offered in terms of posture, something I’ve always struggled with. As COPD patients we are encouraged to keep our shoulders back in order to open up the chest which in turn helps us breathe.
When you are wearing the A400 top it encourages you to pull your shoulders back through its support mechanisms.

I have used this compression top for bike rides and runs with a noticeable impact on my breathing. The A400 SKIN top is worth every cent just for what it can offer in posture support, I often wear it around day to day for this reason.
Like many respiratory patients I don’t like feeling constricted by clothing around my chest as normally this would restrict my breathing. This is not the case with A400 top. Yes it can be a squeeze to put it on, but once it’s on I didn’t feel restricted at all. I would say the margin for error with sizing could make a difference, so make sure you purchase the right size if you decide to buy one. 

Well done SKINS!

Singing with the Wigan Warblers


Several months ago when I had confirmed my travel plans to France and the United Kingdom I received a message along the lines of “come and sing with the Wigan Warblers”. My first thought was who are the Wigan Warblers and what do they do? Answer- they are a patient singing group. After several conversations with their founder Carol Liddle, I had to go and visit as Carol’s enthusiasm was infectious. 

Where is Wigan?

Being from Australia all I knew about Wigan is it was a city in the UK many Australian Rugby League players have played for over the years. Wigan is approximately a two hour train ride north of London through some beautiful English countryside. The Wigan Warblers meet every Tuesday at the Douglas Bank pub .  

We had been filming for pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim in London on the Monday. After telling the team from Boehringer I was going to visit the Wigan Warblers on Tuesday for a day of singing, they decided they needed to come and see the Warblers for themselves. So Tuesday morning my wife Leanne, step-son Ryan myself and the team from Boehringer boarded a train and headed to Wigan for a day of singing. 

More than a singing group!

On our arrival at the Douglas Bank Pub we were warmly greeted by The Warblers boss Carol, musician Cameron and Publican Terry. As we entered the pub we were overwhelmed by what we were confronted with. A room full of respiratory patients standing and clapping as I walked into the main room, not what I was expecting. The warmth I felt in that room, I’ll cherish forever. These were people who’s lives I’d touched. They had followed my journey over the years and travelled as far as 1 ½ hours to be part of the day.  

In the group for the day included respiratory nurses, representatives from the British Lung Foundation and local politicians. They had gathered not to just sing along with the Warblers but to see how they could support this merry band of fellow wheezers. After an introduction to everyone, we took our positions and warmed up our vocal chords. Musician Cameron ran us through some vocal exercises before we joined forces to belt out some tunes.  

It was half way through singing 500 miles I looked around to see a room full of patients and carers beaming in the joy this atmosphere had created. It was then I realised the Wigan Warblers were much more than just a singing group. Yes the singing was exercising their lungs, but the support they were sharing with each other was just as valuable. Support networks are an invaluable part of living with COPD and the Wigan Warblers delivered a masterclass on supporting each other. 

Come and join the fun.

Tuesday September 6th is a great example of the importance of patients uniting for a common cause, which is support. Together we were able to achieve some great things in four hours, from connecting patients to respiratory nurses to help manage their disease better, to the promise of more support from local politicians so the Wigan Warblers could grow and offer more support. Of course we also had the chance to exercise our lungs as the singing continued throughout the afternoon. If you’re in the Wigan area, have a story to tell, like the idea of getting together with a great bunch of people to exercise your lungs by singing, then Wigan Warblers can help. They have a facebook page you connect with them on and before you know it you’ll be singing your way to a better quality of life. 

Thank you Wigan Warblers for taking us in and making us feel like family!