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Photo: Christopher Olssøn

A whole new life

– Being diagnosed with chronic obstructive lung disease was a severe blow to me, says Tor Johnsen (59) from Tromsø, Norway. Mr Johnsen have been a smoker for most of his adult life, and also worked in construction, sometimes being exposed to dust from the building sigts.

Mr Johnsen was diagnosed with the lung disease at the university hospital in Tromsø. He was lucky and the doctor immediately refereed him to a rehabilitation facility. Norway has a long tradition in giving rehabilitation to people with different diseases such as heart and lung disease in order to lengthen life expectancy and to learn how to deal with such a serious diagnosis in the best way possible.

– The severity and the fact that there is no cure was something that really scared me, Johnsen says. He explains that he was unsure what his future would hold for him, whether or not he could continue being active and to spend time with his family. He also needed help dealing with the practical issues that the diagnosis gave him such as getting help for his slime cough and being able to breathe better.

– I was a bit nervous about coming to the rehabilitation centre in Skibotn, Johnsen admits. – I didn’t know what to expect or how the personnel was going to treat med but a former colleague of mine told me that it was a great place, and going there turned out to be the best choice I’ve ever made.

The LHL clinics in Skibotn is located at a beautiful and scenic location near the fjord with a fantastic view of the Lyngen alps.

– The outdoor activities is therefore a natural focus area, he points out. – I actually had not been physically active for many years, other than at work, that is, and I was wondering how my body would manage all the activities. Both physical activities indoor and outdoor is essential to the rehabilitation.

– It was no problem at all, the activities was adapted to people of all kinds of physical condition and I also increased my capacity during the rehabilitation stay, he smiles and says.

– Aside from the physical activities, they arrange lectures about topics much related to your disease. Both the group sessions and induvial interviews helped me to learn more about my diagnosis and to care better for my health.

We ask whether or not he currently smokes cigarettes?

– I knew that Skibotn had a course to help people quit smoking. I was not that motivated in the beginning, but after having learned about the health benefits to quit smoking, I tried it out, and now I have completely stopped. My grandchildren think this is great, he laughs.

He continues to say that the support of his peers and the personnel at the rehabilitation centre is a major factor in his own success.

– Without the staff this would not be possible, and having the support of my peers in the group is also invaluable. Some of us have also kept in touch after the stay.

– I feel like the stay at the rehabilitation facility has given me my life back. I now live with the lung disease, instead of the disease controlling me, he concludes seriously.

Published 5/4/2018