Bath Chronicle

Life-changing drugs offer gym-loving James new start

- Imogen Mcguckin

A Bath man who suffers from a life-limiting condition has overcome his symptoms to become a gym guru.

James Lewis, 30, lives with cystic fibrosis and spent years struggling to hold down a job as he often became exhausted and needed frequent hospital visits.

Now, thanks to the gym and two new wonder-drugs available on the NHS, he is on course to get his personal training certificat­e under his belt by 2022.

James said: “My CF was discovered when I was around 14 months old and growing up I felt that I couldn’t keep up with my friends.

“Mucus would build up in my lungs and I would be on antibiotic­s for weeks. At one point I was nearly on a feeding tube because it really kills your appetite.

“My mum tried to keep me active, but when I was younger, I didn’t enjoy exercise. Now I feel like I can do this.”

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition that causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system.

This can make it hard to breathe and absorb nutrients from food. Symptoms will often worsen over time, causing damage to the lungs and gut.

People with cystic fibrosis usually use physiother­apy to help them cough up the mucus and can sometimes use exercise to clear their airways.

After school, James went to university but he had to drop out after a year because he was struggling to juggle his studies and his health.

A few years later he tried music college but – despite being a talented bass guitarist – he was forced to give up his dreams of playing in a band as the late nights took their toll. He went on to become a delivery driver, then he worked in retail, then in a call centre, but he found it impossible to balance a full-time job with his condition.

“I dropped down to part-time, then became completely unemployed and ended up on benefits. I hate that because I feel trapped.

“So I’m trying to get out of that now. I don’t want to not work but I need to do something that is good for my health,” James explained.

Although he has been trying to build up his strength for the last couple of years, the 30-year-old said he would always need a nap during the day if he had done exercise.

It wasn’t until October 2020 that things began to change, he explained.

“Kaftrio and Kalydeco became available on the NHS. I felt like I had been waiting for them for ages. For years I had been hearing about them coming out.

“A friend of mine said that he would try to get them for me in Wales, but I said I would wait.

“They allow the fluid to pass through the cell walls and the lungs to clear the mucus,” James said.

Since getting the life-changing medicine, James has been able to make it through the day without taking a nap and has seen his fitness go from strength to strength.

“My goal is to get my personal training certificat­e under my belt. Cardio and weightlift­ing can attack CF by increasing the amount of oxygen in your lungs and making their capacity better.

“I am looking at going to Bath Uni to get my qualificat­ion,” he said.

James said although every case of cystic fibrosis is different, he had found exercise and routine to have changed his life. He also suffers from Cf-related diabetes so follows a strict diet.

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 ??  ?? James Lewis has battled against cystic fibrosis
James Lewis has battled against cystic fibrosis
 ?? Pics: Samuel Fynn ??
Pics: Samuel Fynn

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