Life on Oxygen

Hello, my name is Christine. I use oxygen 24/7 and I’m 45 years old. I didn’t always have to use oxygen. It all began when I was 17 years old. It was a monumental change in my life. Since I was just a teenager at the time, it hit me hard. I’m hoping with this blog that people who also use oxygen can see that life isn’t over just because you need oxygen. I think the hardest part for me was accepting that I’ll never live without it again. Once I jumped over that hurdle, life began to change. For the good.

So with this blog… and for all those who are interested in knowing how I live with oxygen needs, I’ll post what I know in hopes that it will help others. Spouses & families too! I am married and what I’ve gone through since I was 19 years old, he’s gone through too with me.

Each comment posted is reviewed for spam prior to possible posting. If you want to follow this blog, please sign up for email notification for each post I make. Look to the top of the right column of the blog to sign up.

Donate to Need a Hug using Paypal

Off Topic – Klondike’s Big Adventure Begins! (and other stuff)

Living On Oxygen for Life

I think everyone knows by now that I like doing silly things or creative things to keep myself in good spirits. I try to share these things to help others feel happy too. For those of you who don’t know who Klondike is… Well, he’s K and my road trip mascot who happens to be a rubber chicken (don’t laugh.. we take this pretty seriously! haha!). He really is pretty darn cool. Not only that, he brings us good luck and a safe journey to wherever we go.

This year Klondike has the opportunity of a lifetime. Who wouldn’t want to go to Paris, France? I know I do! However, with my breathing problems, I can no longer fly. So, my younger sister offered to take Klondike with her and her husband to Paris. They will take pictures of Klondike enjoying Paris and send them to me. It’s their way of helping me enjoy Paris too. They leave later this month. Last month, I got really busy preparing the things that Klondike will need for his journey… things like: a passport (teeny tiny size!), a French dictionary, a beret, a scarf, a backpack, faux money in a tiny wallet, a fun map of Paris folded like a Rand McNally map, a letter of consent for traveling with my sister, and even a little, tiny journal (with the first entry in it as Day 1) made from the banana paper she gave me from one of her vacations. Well, I think that’s everything. If you want to see some of those things, see my post here.

I’m pretty excited because Klondike has already made it to Oklahoma which is his first stop on the way to Paris. He’s already made a new llama friend. Klondike loaned him his beach hat! Wow! He also learned how to play the clarinet! My youngest nephew taught him how. It really sounds like Klondike is having so much fun already. Here’s a picture and a video for you to enjoy. haha!

Klondike met a new friend llama from Peru! He's wearing Klondike's beach hat!

Klondike met a new friend llama from Peru! He’s wearing Klondike’s beach hat!

You probably think I’m nutty for doing this but, honestly, sometimes I just need something exciting to look forward to. It helps me keep a smile on my face. Maybe I went a little too far with all of Klondike’s “belongings” but heck, I’m having fun. Pretty soon, I will be turning 46 years old and on that same day, K and I will be married for 23 years. I started dating him when I was 19 years old. So, that means we’ve been together for 27 years. That’s a pretty big accomplishment! haha! With my birthday coming up, I will get my “Week of Princess” treatment. I can’t wait! K is so sweet about it. I get to use the phrase…”but it’s my birthday” a lot and it even works! haha!

Ok enough for now. You all keep safe and stay well. *big hugs* to you all!

PCV13… the other Pneumonia shot..

Living On Oxygen for Life

PCV13
Yesterday, I went to my Primary Care Physician to receive my shot called PCV13 (Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine). This shot is what I like to call the “other pneumonia shot.” Based on the website Vaccines.gov:

There are currently two types of pneumococcal vaccines: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23).

There are more than 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria. PCV13 protects against 13 types and PPSV23 protects against 23 types. Both vaccines provide protection against illnesses like meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord) and bacteremia (blood infection). PCV13 also provides protection against pneumonia (lung infection).

If you’ve already had a “Pneumonia shot”, most likely you’ve had the PPSV23 as it came on the market in 1983. It was called Pneumovax and made by Merck and now referred to as PPSV23. You can read all about what these vaccines are and when they were created at: Immunize.org. It’s all so confusing.. I know. Just give me the shot already! Sheesh!

But wait… for some reason, you have to be of a certain age or have a qualifying illness to obtain the PCV13. They are expensive and not all insurances will cover it. From what my doctor has told me… they are about $100 per shot and he has to order them in small amounts at a time. It’s not like ordering a batch of flu shots where the doctor knows they will be used up.

Technically, I do not qualify to receive this vaccine. Check the list at the Vaccines.gov website. However, my doctor felt so strongly that if I were to come down with Pneumonia… Well, let’s just say that better not happen *knock on wood*. Seriously, it’s a thought that I don’t even want to imagine because it would be very, very bad if not fatal for me. Sorry for the doom and gloom there.. My bad! Anyway.. ALL of my doctors agreed that I should get a PCV13 shot and so I went in on Friday because my doctor finally got it (it took about a month).

I was sitting there in the doctor’s waiting room when the nurse called my name and that’s when some sort of dinging started to go off. We both looked around asking what was that?? I knew that I heard that noise before. I said, “Could that be me??” and I lifted my purse up to my ear and sure enough it was my phone. K was trying to let me know that he’s been texting and calling me but I had my ringer turned down. Hey, I’m in the doctor’s office! It’s a rule to turn the ringer down. Sooo… I was explaining to my nurse as she whipped out the syringe that K and I have our phones linked and we use the “Find my Phone” app to know where each other is at anytime. It’s great because on that app you can play an alert tone so that you can either find your phone or get someone to answer their phone! The nurse and I were laughing and that’s when she stabbed me in the arm. I was NOT prepared for the shot to sting like it did. I was like, “Ouch that hurts!” She said, “Oh yeah, it will sting a little bit.” No kidding, right? But, I wasn’t going to be a baby about it. I’m tough…

By the time K met me at the mechanics to drop my van off, I was already starting to feel the vaccine move into my shoulder joint. The Flu Shot does the same thing. It makes my joints in my arm hurt for a day or so but for me that was child’s play compared to how I responded to the PCV13. I’m not saying that my reactions will happen to anyone else. I think it’s just that my body is not very strong and it wasn’t quite prepared for this. By the time I got home, about 30 minutes later, the joint pain spread to my left rib cage and it hurt to inhale deeply on the left side. That freaked me out a bit. K had to help me out of his car. We took a nap and I slept with a heating pad which helped me get a little sleep. When I woke up, K helped me sit up in bed because my arm just wasn’t getting the job done and my breathing wasn’t as good as it should be. The stress of dealing with the side effects of the vaccine was wearing me out. I knew I had to just get through a couple of days of feeling like crap, and then I’ll be right as rain.. right? And before I forget, I asked my nurse if I still had to get my flu shot in October and she said, “YES!” Ugh! Another stabbing! haha!

Today, I just feel really tired and slightly warm as if I have a tiny fever (it was only 98.9F). No big deal. My arm is doing better now. I can lift it up without too much aching. I think because I kept moving it around yesterday really helped make it feel better today. The heating pad helped too! Thank you K for the advice even though it was the last thing I wanted to do was to move around an arm that REALLY hurt.

Would I do it all over again, if I knew what I know now? Yes I would because I will protect my body from whatever illness I can. I love living and I love life. Most of all, I love K and I want to continue to be with him for as long as possible. I can hear you saying… “Awhh!” I know, I’m so goofy and that’s a good thing. If I can find humor in things while feeling not-so-good, life will be ok. Love to you all!! Hey check out my NEW Need a Hug Project blog. That’s where I will be updating all the packages of afghans that I ship out. FOLLOW it if you don’t already. Have a great day!

I’m moving my Need a Hug…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I just wanted to let you know that I’ve created a separate blog for the Need a Hug project that I do. I’m attempting to keep to create a home of its own to show you each afghan I create as I go along! I’ve uploaded every picture that I can find to that blog. If you have received on of my afghans and would like your picture on the Need a Hug blog, email me at goredrider@gmail.com

I’d love to show others how much people enjoy the afghans and lapghans that I send. Naturally, I don’t post any picture that I receive with your express permission. You know how I feel about privacy. So, take a look at my newest blog at Need a Hug Project. It’s REALLY new… so please follow if you’d like. *hugs* Thanks everyone! I also post on my GoFundMe page! Thank you so much for the generous donations I’ve received!!!

Love to you all!!!

Planning a road trip…

Living On Oxygen for Life

One of the most important things people do not tend to think about when planning for a road trip while having lung issues, is the how the path you decide to drive will affect your breathing. When I turned 40 years old (nearly 6 years ago!), I begged my husband to take me to Las Vegas. Nearly everyone I knew has been there and had fun. I just haven’t been there and I wanted to go so badly. So, I made it my Birthday wish. Over the years leading up to my 40th birthday, K would always tell me we couldn’t go because it’s a LONG drive and there would be just us driving. He also didn’t think I would do that well on the road driving through the mountains.

Eventually, I wore K down and he started thinking about going since it would be my big 4-0 birthday and he wanted to make it special. We needed someone to go with us. Not just anyone. We ended up taking my MacGyver-like brother-in-law and my older sister, who just happens to be a Physician’s Associate. I asked all my doctors how they felt about me going to Las Vegas (and then on to California) and they all said the same thing. Stay out of the mountains.

Mountains and any altitude that you are not acclimated to can create a big problem for those of us who have breathing problems. Things like increased shortness of breath, sleepiness, chest pain, head aches, and nauseation are just a few of the things that I experience in altitude that is within the range of 3000 feet or higher. It doesn’t take long for the effects of altitude to effect me. It’s a distinct and highly recognizable feeling and it can not only make you feel miserable, it will make you sick.

So, what did we do? First, let me tell you, you must have a back up emergency plan if you truly decide to go… which I don’t recommend doing without a backup plan and talking with your doctor first. Your life and health are too important to not be overly cautious. I then started charting the route that we took. K and I only drive 10-hour days while on a road trip (and yes we took our road trip mascot.. my rubber chicken!).. so we needed to make sure we stopped in locations that, not only have a lower altitude level, but also a place to refill my oxygen if it is time to refill my liquid oxygen reservoir. Wouldn’t want to run out of oxygen while on the road, right? That would be bad as I started using a tad bit more of oxygen while in the car.

Since I live in Fort Worth, Texas, I had to pick a route that skirted most of the mountains and stayed within the lower altitude range. I live in an area that is at around 700 feet above sea level. So, I was guessing that my maximum tolerable altitude would be 3000 feet. Yes I would still have trouble but I would be able to go since my sister was going with us to keep an eye on me. Yes, she’s an awesome sister. I only wished that my little sister could’ve gone too.

I bet you are wondering how I planned the route. First, there’s an app for that but most importantly, there is a really great altitude website that lets you click on any given area and it will tell you the altitude. You can use this map for locations anywhere around the world. Using this, I was able to figure out which highways to use to make my roaodtrip the safest route possible. It wasn’t fool-proof. I still had serious headaches and I was really tired. However, I had the foresight to have purchase a wheel chair through Amazon.com and I took my pulse oximeter to monitor my oxygen saturation.

I hope this helps you plan your road trips. I posted this information in hopes that you remain healthy while on vacation and have all the fun you deserve.

I’ve had enough of July…

Living On Oxygen for Life

thehalfmoonJuly2015

Lately, I have become a bit lazy and now I’m paying for it. It’s not really a laziness by choice. It’s one of those laziness that creeps up on you because you haven’t felt well enough to be motivated to do much. It’s a struggle for me at times. Right now… I’m trying to deal with this malady as best as I can.

It’s gotten to the point where I stopped calling friends & family or leave the house much for anything besides doctor appointments and grocery shopping with K. That, in itself, is bad. I need to push myself to do things because I don’t feel the energy to do them. I’m talking about making dinner, processing laundry (i.e.: changing loads, folding or hanging up shirts), and swiffing the wood floors. All of this seems really easy to do, right? It looks easy to me. It’s just that when I have a monumental Migraine *knock on wood* everything comes to a standstill. K picks up the slack and keeps things going. Unfortunately, this time, I didn’t rebound as well as I normally do.

Maybe it’s the Texas heat or maybe my breathing is actually getting worse. In fact, K actually picked up the laundry basket full of clothes, as he was making himself a sandwich for lunch, and placed it on the counter. I wasn’t sure why he did that. So I asked him and he told me he did it so I wouldn’t have to bend over and pick it up. He knows how bending over affects my breathing now. Sure, he could’ve carried it all the way to the bedroom but he doesn’t want to make it THAT easy for me. I need to keep active or my health will decline.

I’ve started writing a TO-DO List to get me going again. So far, I’ve accomplished one thing on it which is tonight’s dinner. YAY! I have been crocheting a lot and I’m getting ready to send out another Need a Hug afghan. Just please give me a few more days to get myself back into the swing of things. I’ll be posting more often again. This month has been so weird. It’s definitely NOT normal for me to be so quiet. So, I’m sorry for that. I’ve had enough of July’s laziness and I’m ready to come out swinging in August! Watch out! haha! *HUGS* to you all!!!

The above picture is one that I took a few days ago. The moon was low enough in the sky to take a pretty good shot at it. I love taking pictures! It only took about 15 tries to get one this clear because I didn’t use a tripod. I didn’t want to lug it outside. haha! Space intrigues me! I loved the pictures of Pluto! That was AWESOME!

[2015]

Random Picture Day #14

Living On Oxygen for Life

I had a very exciting 4th of July weekend. My older sister came down for a visit and Saturday, we all went to her in-law’s house to watch the fireworks display while sitting on a lawn chair on the sidewalk. How awesome is that? They had great food and HOMEMADE ice cream (two flavors… chocolate or raspberry). I was in ice cream heaven for a little while. Yum! While we waited for the Fort Worth firework show to start, the kids lit the sparklers and my niece (who’s 5 years old) had a hay day with the snaps that you throw on the ground and they pop like a fire cracker. K was so funny. Every time she threw one near him, he acted all scared and jumped and screeched. Oh the joys from the laughter she makes. Even though I had a LOT of fun, the fireworks smoke and the humidity became too much for me. I had to go inside after the show was over. When I got home, I was feeling it badly. Sunday, I got up to see off my sister & her family and after that.. it was a blur… We crashed for about 4 hours. A five year old can really wear you out!! Sheesh! Once again, Miss C, told me that she still has the little canula tubing that I gave her when she was about 2 years old. So sweet and precious.

I’ve been pretty busy lately with gardening, crocheting, and working on a new adventurous project involving my rubber chicken, Klondike. Maybe you’ve heard? You can read about it here. So, I’ve been getting him prepared to leave and head to my sister’s house so that he may continue on to PARIS, FRANCE!!! I’m gathering things that he might need for the trip…. He’s getting really excited and I don’t blame him one bit. *wink* I just think that this is such a sweet thing my sister is doing for me. Here’s what I have so far!

Passport with Klondike's picture, Mad Money, a Beret and matching scarf.

Passport with Klondike’s picture, Mad Money, a Beret and matching scarf.

I’m also having some gardening luck this year. I actually have 3 whole lemons growing! *shocker* It’s the first year since I’ve had the Meyer Lemon dwarf tree that it’s produced fruit. Hey, maybe they will be edible! One could only hope.

July2015_Lemons

Next is my raised flower bed that I got for last Christmas. My spinach didn’t make it… bummer… but my yellow onions, garlic, chives & basil all are growing well. It’s my first time growing onions and garlic. I hope they survive because I’m really getting into fresh food. I can’t believe how much tastier a recipe is with fresh garlic. I mean, wow! hehe!

July2015_garden

The other thing I’ve been working super hard on is sending out Need a Hug afghans. I love doing this. If you need a hug and have trouble breathing, you email me! goredrider@gmail.com It’s free thanks to some really wonderful and generous donors. Here’s the afghan that I just sent out last week. My current afghan that I’m working on is going to Illinois!

June 2015 Need a Hug Afghan

June 2015 Need a Hug Afghan

I hope everyone is doing well this Summer. *HUGE HUGS* I love hearing from you. Be well! Sign up to follow my blog so you won’t miss any of the exciting things I write… even Klondike’s adventure! YAY!

[2015]

A little bit of fun adventure!

Living On Oxygen for Life

You know that every now in then, we really need something exciting to happen to give us a sense of adventure. I mean, if you’re like me, you spend a bit more time indoors than outdoors. So adventures can often be hard to come by. Don’t get me wrong. I seek out adventures wherever and whenever I can and when my next thrilling adventure presented me with an opportunity, I jumped all over it.

Ok, I’ll be totally honest with you. This adventure isn’t exactly for me. Let me explain what happened… *cue dream sequence* A few years ago, K bought me a new rubber chicken, which I named Klondike, because my previous chicken, Mr. Chicken (God bless his soul!) passed on to the pearly chicken heaven due to a broken neck. Yeah, Rocco got to him. Darn that dog! Klondike is much different, yet so similar to, Mr. Chicken. He’s similar because when you squeeze him, he screams but he’s also different because, Klondike is far more adventureous. If something exciting comes along, he jumps on it. Go Klondike, go! He even wears a crocheted beach hat that I made him! He’s stylin’!

Now, it’s been several years since K and I have been able to go on vacation (usually to the beach!) and Klondike probably is feeling pretty neglected. Poor chicken! When I posted this information on my personal Facebook page, my little sister saw it and commented that she and her husband are planning to go to Paris in a few months. She said to mail Klondike to her and they will take Klondike to Paris and take pictures of him there enjoying a NEW and VERY exciting adventure! Whoa! I was blown away! But, ohmygosh! Klondike needs to go in style… he needs… a beret! I have to crochet him a beret to wear instead of a beach hat in Paris. I mean, it’s PARIS! Not Paris, Texas… we’re talking Paris, France! I toyed with the idea of making him a cape too but I think that’s going a bit too far. After all, I will be 46 years old in a few months. OHMYGOSH! He’s going to need a Passport! haha! Here’s what Klondike looks like:

Roadtripmascot

I have SOOOOO much to tell you all. Updates are going to be coming to you about a bunch of different things. I just wanted to start out with something fun and exciting. I also wanted to leave you with the news that I’m doing well with no major health issues since a few weeks ago. I appreciate those of you who have emailed me with concerns that I’ve gone silent. I get in these funky moods sometimes and they are hard for me to get out of… The Texas heat doesn’t help the problem either but all is good now. I promise! Here’s a list of some of the topics I’ll be blogging about:

  • An Aorta measurement update since the CT Scan.
  • Blackouts
  • Canulas, what kind are available to you.
  • A Need a Hug update… So exciting!
  • My garden progress… I can’t believe I got something to grow!
  • And so much more! Take care of yourself and know that I’m thinking of you. Give yourself a hug today!!! You deserve it! *hug*