Life on Oxygen

Hello, my name is Christine. I use oxygen 24/7 and I’m 46 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.

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[I update my age every year on this post]
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Change of plans? What?

Living On Oxygen for Life

I get a phone call today from my cardiologist to make sure I didn’t have any other questions before going into the hospital next week. I asked a few basic questions, one being, how quickly does this medicine take effect? We got to talking about Tikosyn and how the doctor will titrate the dose according to how my heart and body reacts to it. I’m sitting on my couch taking notes saying uh huh and ok. The conversation twists and turns to the part of the morning of my admission.

The woman says that the hospital will only call starting from about 8am if they don’t have a bed available. So if they don’t call, I’m suppose to go to the hospital registration/admission. From there, I have to wait around for a bed to become available.

WHAT? That wasn’t what I was told before. Last time, the hospital was suppose to call me when a bed was available and then I go there. I explained to the woman that I use oxygen 24/7, I’ve never been to this hospital before (which makes me nervous because they will only have whatever medical records that this doctor provides to hospital and I’ve only been to his office twice and actually seen the dude once!), and I can’t just wait around for what could possibly be a few hours for a bed. She told me to ask them for oxygen.

Now that K is home from work, I gave him the “Drama Update” and he was just as frazzled as I am about the whole thing. The GOOD news out of the whole conversation is that K can stay in my room with me the whole time if he chooses to which will be a hospital first for us. He always went home. I didn’t blame him. I mean our bed is much more comfortable than the provided chair, even if it does stretch out bed-style.

Today my heart has been skipping quite a bit. I’ve been relaxing a lot yesterday and today. I feel kind of sluggish or as if I have cabin fever or the winter blues. It’s been raining so much here. I’m just ready for some sunny days to bring a sunny smile to my face. Let me bask in the Sun’s warmth so that I may feel the glow of happiness grow into a smile on my face.

Tomorrow I head out to my PCP doctor appointment and catch him up on what’s been going on in the past 2 months. I should write some notes before I go so that I don’t forget anything. I have that much stuff to unload on him. Poor guy. He earns his paycheck with me as his patient. I think I keep things interesting for him though.

Well, I enjoyed this talk with y’all. I hope you did. I just shipped out a Need a Hug afghan to Washington state! Yay! If you want to donate to my Need a Hug project, you can do so by clicking the GoFundMe button. *hugs* Thank you!!! Have a great weekend!

The date is set….for Tikosyn

Living On Oxygen for Life

The date is confirmed for going to the hospital to try Tikosyn. Sometime during April 26, I enter the hospital and supposedly walk out on the 28th as a new and improved heart patient.

My last stay at the hospital was in 2014 when the PH medicine, Opsumit and my heart medicine, Cordarone (which is what I’m currently getting off from), clashed inside my body causing it to become hyperthyroid. That was no fun.

I documented that hospital stay on my blog and you can find it here: Life’s little emergencies. I’ll try to document this stay as well.

I hope everything goes well in that my body can tolerate Tikosyn without causing me breathing problems. I have a lot to take to the hospital but I’m going to narrow it down to my Bipap and mask, some comfy clothes & toiletries, my phone & iPad and hope I can use both in the hospital room to watch movies and communicate with the world. I’m even thinking about taking a small stash of yarn. you knew that was coming, right?

My heart is starting to act up. I stopped taking Cordarone on March 28 and before that, I was already tapering it down slowly over a 2 1/2 week period. Right now it skips and aches often. I hope it doesn’t feel any worse than this because I still have 13 days to go.

It’s time to go find my Wonder Woman underwear because I feel like I’m going to need a little bravery in the hospital. *fingers crossed*

Hey, just to let you know, I have a Need a Hug afghan ready to give away if you want it. It will go to the first person who emails me at goredrider@gmail.com and tells me their breathing problem diagnosis. It’s totally free to you! Lots of love to you all!!

2016 PH International Conference in Dallas, TX

Living On Oxygen for Life

I’ve been waiting for this conference to come for the past several years. It was held several years ago in Canada and ever since then, I’ve been really, REALLY wanting to good.

So imagine my surprise when I heard nearly a year ago that the next conference will be held practically in my own backyard!!! Ok not really that close. It will be in Dallas, TX and that, my friends, is drivable since I go there anyway for my Pulmonary Hypertension doctor appointments. In fact, my doctor will be there. I already told her that I’ll try not to embarrass her by screeching and flagging her down saying, “*GASP!* There’s my doctor!!!*”

Seriously though, this conference is hugely important because it’s where PH patients (like me), Caretakers (like K), PH physicians and some sponsors all come together to offer the latest information about Pulmonary Hypertension. There will be support groups for parents of children with PH as well as for adults with PH and even for the caretakers.

I’m super excited to be spending the weekend there. I’ll have my puppy with me in my room. I think it will be a wonderful experience to be surrounded by so many wonderful people and learning how they have adapted their lives to overcome the challenges of having Pulmonary Hypertension.

I’m really interested in finding the people who were born with scoliosis and have PH as well. That’s similar to my health condition. I was born with Pulmonary Hypertension. So that makes me a long-term survivor of secondary PH and hopefully I can offer information to anyone who asks me.

I will be blogging my experience while at the conference. Hopefully I will have lots of pictures to post & show you. I’m still thinking of whether or not to take Klondike, my rubber chicken. He’s going to need a new hat. My sister kept Klondike’s beach hat. Probably for the llama she has. haha!

Learn more about Pulmonary Hypertension at:PH a Association Organization

Be sure you FOLLOW my BLOG to read all about my fun adventures and living on O2 for life!

A fun adventure to get me outside.

Living On Oxygen for Life

Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to get my butt outside, especially when it’s either cold or hot outside. K likes for me to stay as active as possible while on my days of feeling good. He also likes for me to push myself a little bit (just a little bit mind you!) even when I don’t feel 100 percent. Ok, well, that’s virtually everyday but let’s not be technical about it, right?

So, what gets me excited enough to get out in my yard? Gardening! Not just any kind of gardening, you know… With flowers and what nots.. I’m talking about growing food! Now my yard isn’t big. K says it’s about the size of a postage stamp but I make it work for me. That’s right… I use raised garden beds and half whiskey barrels because, having Pulmonary Hypertension, bending down is difficult for me. This year, I’m growing potatoes (red & white), spinach, carrots, cilantro, thyme, chiles, Bibb lettuce, garlic and a few onions.

This year (2016) K built this raised bed for me to have more garden space.

This year (2016) K built this raised bed for me to have more garden space.

Last week we had 2 major hail storms that damaged our house and K’s car. I feel a little bad because my van was in the garage. hehe! Here’s a picture I took of the second storm. It was so loud!

This hail did some damage to our house and to K's car.

This hail did some damage to our house and to K’s car.

Thankfully, and quite unbelievably, my gardens survived both beatings! Maybe it’s because of the netting I have over them. I use it to keep out the bugs. I’m looking more and more like a farmer everyday! Even my dwarf orange, lemon, & lime trees survived.

My first attempt at growing carrots!

My first attempt at growing carrots!

My first attempt at growing Bibb lettuce.

My first attempt at growing Bibb lettuce.

Because I use a Bipap, I tend to have a problem with too much air in my tummy sometimes. When I eat iceburg lettuce or onions, it only makes the problem worse. I like salad but most salads have iceberg lettuce in them. I can eat spinach with no problem though. I thought I would try growing the Bibb lettuce as a way to eat a Spinach & Bibb lettuce salad instead.

I like to work around any problems that come up. I call it MacGyvering! Don’t forget to follow my blog to stay up to date with all of my adventurous moments. Happy Easter Sunday everyone!

Problem? Fix it!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Stress..the final frontier..for which no man (or woman!) wants to experience. Did that even make sense because I can’t tell.. I’m too stressed out. Over the last three weeks, I have literally hit the maximum overload point in the amount of stress my little body can handle before I start feeling physically sick. Chest pain, heart beat skipping, and downright depression hit pretty hard. But, let’s not go there.

I played phone tag a lot last week trying to find out when my doctor can schedule me in his itinerary for trying Tikosyn. He finally got back in town last week. I called him last Monday to let them know… “Hey, I’m still here waiting on an answer..” I had to leave a message. I really hate phone tag. So I sent an email too. You know, just in case. I finally get a call back from the doctor’s staff saying they’ve been discussing my case and they think the doctor will have an opening to be available to the hospital for the 3-day stay requirement during the last week of April. I told her that I’ll be out of medicine soon and I’m already splitting the pills in half. Her answer was that I’d have to be off the medicine completely for 2 to 3 weeks anyway. Personally, I think we’re cutting it a little too close for my comfort. Between now and then, the doctor has other out of town conferences to attend. What will happen while I’m off Cordarone and I have a rhythm problem and he’s out of town??

Meanwhile, K and I have decided to track down and purchase Cordarone from Turkey so that I’ll have something to fall back on if my body can’t tolerate Tikosyn. It hasn’t arrived yet but it’s been shipped. *fingers crossed * that it’s the same brand name Cordarone that I’m currently taking.

Right now, I’m not feeling any bad effects of being on just a half dose of Cordarone a day. My heart is skipping a little but I’m ok with that. As long as it doesn’t get worse or something doesn’t cause a lot of stress for me, we hope I’ll do ok.

I really wanted all this settled before the PH Conference in June because I’m super excited to be going with K. I’ll be hopefully giving away my favorite Need a Hug afghan that I just completed. It really is lovely!

This the Need a Hug afghan I wish to give away at the 2016 PH International Conference

This the Need a Hug afghan I wish to give away at the 2016 PH International Conference

I’m facing a decision that scares the heck out of me.

Living On Oxygen for Life

Let me set the scene for you, if you will allow me. *grin* You know I love a good story, yet this one is a hum-dinger! About a week ago, I put in a request for a refill of my heart medicine. It’s the heart medicine that helps with my Ventricular Arrhythmias and it’s called Cordarone. Now, mind you… I can take BRAND NAME only because the generic drug, Amiodarone and Pacerone, causes horrible headaches. I’ve tried a multitude of other heart medicines back in 1993 but they all affected my breathing causing severe shortness of breath.

So, I wondered why, when I got the email from my mail order pharmacy, which said that my Cordarone refill has been delayed. A few days later I called the pharmacy and asked wha’s up… you know? *raised eyebrow* This isn’t something I can go without. They told me that the medicine is no longer in stock and they didn’t have a date of when it would be arriving. That set off serious alarm bells in my head.

I went into my bathroom where my Cordarone bottle is and looked at the name of the manufacturer. Pfizer! Then I searched online to find their phone number to give them a jingle on my telephone. You know, just to ask them, wha’ up? I mean… seriously! I explained my situation about this is the only medicine my lungs can tolerate and I really need this drug. (Honestly, I was starting to freak out.) The people at Pfizer were super nice. They even put me on hold to find out what the problem was but they did NOT come back with good news. In fact, it was horrible news. Cordarone, they said, has been discontinued. But hey, there’s still the generic drug. UGH! I explained to them that I can NOT take that medicine.

After that call, I immediately called my doctor, who is a Cardiac Electrophysiology specialist, to tell them what happened and to beg them for an earliest doctor appointment available which was Monday. I went to the appointment but not only did I arrive to the wrong office (they have multiple offices!) but I had to beg them on the phone to allow me to still come in to see them instead of rescheduling. Can you imagine how stressed out I was? I had only 40 minutes to get to their office which was in a different city and there was major traffic but I made it and in one piece! Yay me!

Ok, so I’m in the doctor’s office talking it up with an older man about his mother needing oxygen. I guess when people see me they just naturally start talking with me or I’ll give them a friendly smile and they we’ll just start talking. I hate sitting in a quiet place waiting to be called. I naturally want to talk. *shrug*

I was able to talk with the Nurse Practitioner (because the doctor was out of country for the next week) for nearly an hour and it turns out that the only medicine that I could switch to is… That’s right… Tikosyn (I was offered that about 2 years ago and turned down but now I have no choice.) which requires a 3 day stay in a hospital to start it. To start this drug, I will have to stop Cordarone for 2 weeks prior to starting Tikosyn. If Tikosyn doesn’t work, I’m screwed. My other alternative is to try to buy Cordarone from Turkey through a Canadian pharmacy to fall back on in case Tikosyn doesn’t work. I’ve tried to buy it in the past from Canada, but they sent me Pacerone instead. I’m super, super stressed out… I need brand name. I have 28 Cordarone pills left. K took the news as well as expected. I’m going to call my doctor tomorrow and tell her I’m going to try Tikosyn.

K and I remember the experience I went through back in 1993 with my heart skipping constantly and it was not a good experience. We are going to try to make the 2 weeks without Cordarone as “low stress” as possible. Stress really effects my heart rhythm.

My only thought yesterday was … I really hope K brings home some ice cream for me. I could really use some. He did. He knew I needed it. I ate the whole pint last night. And it was delicious! Who knew Twix ice cream could taste so good??? Ok that’s my update.

Hey don’t forget to donate to my Need a Hug Project fund! I can’t wait to show you the afghan I’m nearly finished with. The donate button is on the right!

[March 2016]