Patients + Research: Richard King
Richard is one of hundreds of patient volunteers who have taken part in respiratory studies over the past 25 years with Dr. Denis O’Donnell, a world renowned researcher in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at Kingston General Hospital.
Rick King at work in the dental lab he has managed for more than 45 years.
Photo: Matthew Manor (Kingston General Hospital)
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your health story?
I’m 70 years old and I’ve had lung disorders since I was three. It started as asthma, but now it’s Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), which was diagnosed in 1994. I’ve been under the care of a respirologist since the early 1970s. I’ve gone through different levels of this disease, and it’s gotten worse over time. The problem is, air gets trapped in your lungs and it can’t get out, making it difficult to get new air in.
I’ve been under the care of Dr. Denis O’Donnell at Kingston General Hospital for the past two decades, and I’ve taken part in a number of his studies. He really has revolutionized my life. I’ve been part of a study to try out new inhalers with a new delivery system.
Dr. O’Donnell is a very kind and caring physician, always trying to read behind the lines, trying to find out why things happen. I’ve gone through seven decades of breathing disorders, and now I’m at a point where although I have limitations in my ability to perform physical activities, I still strive to live a normal life. The breathlessness is always with me but I have found that by pushing myself and exercising faithfully (which takes dedication) I can do almost do whatever I want!
Why does health research matter to you?
My belief has always been, we should give back. It’s why I’ve given my time to assist in research. Research matters to me because if there wasn’t research going on, there’d be no drug development, and a lot of people wouldn’t have the quality of life that we have now.
When I was little, many times I’d have to sleep upright in a rocking chair because I couldn’t breathe. Nowadays inhalers give your lungs an opportunity to open up your airways. You’re able to go for a walk or live a relatively normal life. When I see a doctor bending over backwards to find answers to benefit his patients, I recognize that are a lot of positives for us, and it’s our responsibility to help them answer the questions that lead to better treatments and better quality of life.
How does health research contribute to a healthier Ontario?
Research has helped me to have a better quality of life – I’m still going into the dental lab (which I managed for more than 45 years) three days a week as I move toward retirement– but it also helps the lives of all the people in Ontario. And it helps people around the world, so the impact of this Ontario-based research is global.
How can patients and families support, improve or empower health research?
Without the patient volunteers, doctors wouldn’t be able to do the research, so the patient voice is important. The problem is, there’s not a lot of public knowledge about respiratory disease. For example, people with my problem, as long as we’re sitting still, nobody knows we have a problem. But as soon as we become active it’s an issue. You should be able to do all those kinds of things, walking, going up and down stairs, playing football with your grandson… you should be able to enjoy all aspects of life. That’s what the miraculous new drugs are doing for us. So it’s important for patients to give their time to research. It IS our responsibility!
- RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Kingston General Hospital
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- Patients + Research: Maria Larmon
Read more Patients + Research posts and share your own insights on Twitter with the hashtag #onHWS. Learn more about how health research makes Ontario healthier, wealthier and smarter: visit our impact page, and our other blog posts and videos.
Add your voice to the Patients + Research blog series. Email or call Elise Bradt at firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-205-1469, or direct message or tweet at us on Twitter at @CAHOhospitals.