Ex-smoker chooses to breathe

Ex-smoker Murray Moore manages to be creative in his house and garden, despite battling the...
Ex-smoker Murray Moore manages to be creative in his house and garden, despite battling the debilitating effects of emphysema. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
Thirteen years ago, Dunedin man Murray Moore faced a stark choice — give up smoking or risk death on the operating table.

Mr Moore (72) first tried smoking as an 11-year-old, smoked full-time from 14, and as an adult consumed 60 tailor-made cigarettes, or two 50g packs of tobacco, every day.

"My father smoked, and so did all of his mates — it was completely normalised," he said.

A boilermaker by trade, Mr Moore also worked with welding fumes for most of his adult life, putting his lungs under even more pressure.

After experiencing a growing shortness of breath, he was eventually diagnosed with the debilitating lung condition emphysema in 1995.

But still, he did not quit smoking until back surgery loomed in 2007 and his surgeon delivered a blunt message — as a heavy smoker, he had a 1 in 100 chance of surviving the surgery.

"She put me on the spot, I could either smoke or have the surgery — not both."

Mr Moore quit "cold turkey" and says he has never craved a cigarette since.

"There has been no temptation — I had the choice, I could either breathe or smoke."

After his back surgery, Mr Moore was able to move without pain, but his emphysema made activity almost impossible — even getting out of a chair.

"I couldn’t really walk, and I was gasping for air so much that eating was very difficult."

During a stay in Dunedin Hospital for treatment, his physiotherapists put him into an exercise class, where slow and gentle exercises began to gradually make a difference.

"There were times when it seemed that I wasn’t going to make it, but I stuck with the exercises and they helped.

"I was very determined to be as well as I could be, and gradually I got back on my feet."

These days, Mr Moore can walk short distances and has the energy to be able to tackle home and garden renovations and decorating work — slowly and carefully.

"Being able to do that has kept me going, and I can walk away from it at any time if I get tired."

Acknowledging the help and support he has received, Mr Moore likes to give back where he can — he is a member of the Asthma Society committee and presents a show on Otago Access Radio.

He also attends tutorial sessions with medical and physiotherapy students, where he describes the effects of living with emphysema and medications he must take.

"You have to make the best of a bad situation — I don’t sit and feel sorry for myself , I haven’t got time."

The father of two and grandfather of two loves spending time with family, and is grateful for the staunch support of his wife Audrey and his friends.

"They have been wonderful to me, I am very lucky that way."

For the past decade, Mr Moore and his grandchildren have spent almost a month each year putting up a giant Christmas display, with 20 trees, decorations and complex light designs.

Hundreds of visitors come to Green Island to see them.


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