British Lung Foundation
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Any ideas on a suitable job for someone having emphysema and coronary heart disease?

Hello. I am new to here. I have been looking on the Internet for a few weeks and have pretty much gone round in circles. I'm 47. Recently had a CT scan only to be informed I have emphysema. I read a bit of info on the GPs computer screen, it said severe centrilobular emphysema. She moved the screen before I could continue reading!! I have an appointment back at the hospital June 18th back with the chest clinic whom had arranged the CT.

I have worked in healthcare for pretty much all my working life and last year I went to France for 6 months to work on a camp site, it was damp and cold at the start and at the end of season. A lot of mould to clean off the inside of the vans. Anyway, cutting the story short, I got stung or bit by an insect, I reacted, the French GP gave me prednisone. I then caught a cold and ended up with what seemed a chest infection, I can not recall having one in the past, but on return to the uk I was referred to X-ray then given anti biotics and a follow up X-ray, which showed something still there, they did another, something still there, this spanned 5 months. Hence the CT. I have to say I was not happy about emphysema being confirmed as I thought my inability to go up hills and stairs without feeling my chest was crushed, was to do with the ischeamic heart disease, but it appears, not !!!!

I was born to a smoking household, smoked myself, gave up 5 years ago. Had the heart attack a year after giving up, but as it turns out, it's to do with a family trait. I've got one stent in one artery, the other is at last angio 60% blocked. I only had 6 months off work, as they wouldn't let me go back til they said. Recently, I had a flare up of ulcerative colitis, only my second in two years, but this stopped me from going to work. While this was going on I received the news about emphysema. I signed on and get contribution based jsa. I saw a disability advisor who said I should come out of the care profession, avoid that type of work, do a small course and go for a job as a receptionist.

Here's the question, I have read to not be sedatory and to exercise and try to keep in good form as an out of form muscle will use up oxygen or something like that. Anyway, since I can walk my two dogs for sometime without too much bother, and can deal with being out of breath after doing the stairs, and can put up with the headache that I sometimes get, I'm wondering what would be a suitable job? I really do not want to sit on my backside.

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10 Replies

Hi you are going through it , ,I can't tell you what job you can do, are you sure you should be working at all, I'm sure others will comment soon , keep as we'll as you can



Hi like Jan I can not comment on what job you should be doing. I think you have enough to deal with with all your health problems I hope you are looking after yourself as an ex UC sufferer I sympathise completley my dad had emphesyma and I have Bronciecatasis. I just wanted to say a very big WELCOME to the site lots of great friendly people here, good luck with your question, but most importantly take good care, Julie

Hi Anniekd. Maybe, as you have mentioned it, you could do dog walking. Then you could rest as and when you like but also get the exercise in ?

What a good Idea Puff, Welcome Anniekd :)

Hi anniekd, sorry to hear you are having such problems. I don't know what sort of job would be suitable for you either. The thing is, if you are working in a pressured environment you can't take a little breather when you need one so you might become really exhausted. I can keep going longer if i can take a break when required. I too have UC and take a maintenance dose of Asacol. I hope you enjoy this site - lots of fun and laughter as well as serious discussion :-) Alison

Sorry to put a dampener on it but it's not whether you want to work but whether an employer will take you on. I gave up my last job when emphysema struck some years ago and I could no longer do my original job. No probs I thought, get a different type of job. But as soon as you mention emphysema they come up with all sorts of excuses. The usual one was that in the event of a fire I couldn't move fast enough to get out of the building,thereby endangering other staff.

Having said all that I hope you can find somewhere to take you.

Wishing you all good fortune in your search


Swapping careers and jobs can be really rewarding, I did it myself and am happy I did but it's knackering having to learn everything all over again like a 20-something but while already in your forties. It drained me and I don't think it was good for my health, but I do enjoy my new profession now.

Employers are less enthusiastic about taking us on when we're that little bit older, then there's the health concerns of course. I'd definitely check it out carefully before making any big decisions.

I hope you find something you enjoy :-)

So sorry to hear everything you've been going through.

Not sure where your skills lie or whether you're up for learning something new from scratch.

Personally I wouldn't give up on the idea of receptionist. It wouldn't be physically taxing and you'd be in a comfortable environment. There's the added benefit of people contact which could be a very enjoyable part of the job. It may be sitting down but there may be a position which incorporates other duties too, e.g. filing or other things to get you out of the chair.

It may be a sedentary occupation but you could make up for that in other ways. I have found a gentle exercise class, like music and movement, which is good and very enjoyable. I also have a Wii Fit and pick out the exercises I can cope with, plus I have a DVD with exercises for people with COPD and Asthma which concentrates on exercises to use the breathing muscles. Something along similar lines, coupled with walking your dogs, would give you enough exercise.

I hope you can work something out, and welcome to the forum :) .

If you cannot get paid employment maybe (as someone in another blog today is doing) you could do some charity work - may be an hour or two in a charity shop or helping with paper work - just an idea - good luck whatever xx

Welcome Anniekd! Sorry to hear of the problems you are encounting.It must have been a shock to you.

My only suggestion,is that have you thought of working from home? I do know a couple of people that do so,& find it handy that they can put there own time limits etc.although being at home,they do have to be self motivated!!

All the best,

Wendells xx

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