Lorraine’s story

Lorraine, 57, lives near Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. She has had pulmonary arterial hypertension for four years.

“I worked at a school at lunchtimes before I got ill so I was always rushing about the playground, but when I got ill, I had to give it up. I started spending most of the time in my house and only left to go shopping really.

I saw Carol [specialist physio] at my specialist centre about 18 months ago, on my last face-to-face visit to clinic (before the pandemic hit).

I suffer from anxiety, and I told her it was hard for me to go out and do exercise, but she said she could get me access to some pulmonary rehab classes near me that might help my mindset and general wellbeing too.

I’m not an ‘exercise type of person’ but I started to look forward to going. I would ache the day after but that’s good as it told me I had done something, and the next day I would be thinking ‘I can’t wait to go to the next one’.

I had to give up work because of my PH, so it was good for me to feel like I was doing something. The classes got me out.

I enjoyed them and met some nice people there that I could talk to, so it was good for my anxiety too.

The classes helped me become more confident and I wish I could have carried on, but the pandemic hit just as I was completing the sessions.  

Because I was enjoying the exercise so much, I bought the equipment we were using – steps, weights and so on – so I could carry on at home through lockdown.

The exercise has also helped me lose weight and I’ve lost about two stone so far. I started a diet too and the exercise helped me want to eat more healthily. One goes with the other.

The exercise helps me sleep too. It always takes me a long time to drop off, but I sleep better on the days I do something.

When I first got PH, I was scared to do too much, in case I got too out of breath. But I do more now; I walk further and have more confidence. And I have more self-esteem. I was so proud of myself for doing the classes.

If I’d not started doing this exercise I wouldn’t be doing so much now in general. I thought if I could push myself while I was in the classes, I could push myself at home too.

It’s made a difference to lots of areas of my life. Before, when I used to go to the supermarket, I’d get exactly what I needed and then go straight back home because I’d feel stupid if I walked too far around the shop and then couldn’t get back to my car. Now, I can walk around and look at things.

We’ve got a touring caravan so we’re hoping to get out and about more, and now I’ll be able to do more exploring on foot when we’re away.

I definitely feel differently about exercise since the help I’ve had from Carol.”