Understanding my ABG…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I have no problem with letting you know the results of most of my medical tests. I’ve always been an open person. I feel that it is how people learn things that may relate to them or who may be too afraid to ask. So, by talking about my test results, it’s my way of helping those who are not only curious but confused.

Understanding ABGs (Arterial Blood Gas) results are confusing because the body is a complex thing. As always, if you are confused about what your ABG means, ask your doctor. Let me remind you again what my results are:

Here is my ABG results:
ph – 7.37 range: 7.35-7.45
PCO2- 65.9 range: 34-45 mmHg
PO2- 118 range: 92-100 mmHg
HCO3- 38.2 range: 22-26 MMOL/L
O2sat- 98% range: 94-100%
Total CO2 calc ABG- 40 range:19-24 MMOL/L

The HCO3 is the bicarbonate and mine is high. Because the CO2 is high, which is the Carbon Dioxide. My lungs can not exhale enough CO2 because they are becoming stiffer over time (not so elastic). They are small due to scoliosis which has deformed my ribs to the point it reduces the room for my lungs to expand. Hence the reason why I have Pulmonary Hypertension. My lungs are small, stiff, and have a difficult time exchanging the carbon dioxide with oxygen that it needs to keep my body moving. This is why my CO2 is so high. My carbon dioxide is high because my lungs can not make that necessary exchange making my breathing problem a mechanical one.

My heart works hard to make up for the demand of oxygen that my body needs. It senses that it needs to pump more blood into my lungs to get those gases exchanged which also causes the pulmonary hypertension. My heart can not keep up the demand of my body. What you see as the pH is a good thing. Because the HCO3 is so high it balances out the CO2 to make my pH within the normal range. Had the the pH been low with the results of the CO2 and HCO3, I would be in trouble from what I understand.

What this all means is my breathing problems are mechanical. Because of my scoliosis and the rib deformity, my lungs over time can not do the job they are meant to do, especially while exerting myself. I know in my heart that this is sad but I still find whatever positive I can from these results. I see that the pH is normal which means my one and only kidney (since birth) is holding up and doing its job. YEA! I see that the PO2 is lower than the last ABGs results of 212mmHg. 212mmHg is bad because that can trigger the brain to retain too much CO2. So, yes, there are a few positive things from this test and that’s how I choose to look at it. It would be easy to sink down into depression thinking that my life and my health is getting worse. But why do that? Why waste that energy when I’m still here and still able to have fun? Yes, I’m a little slower and yes, I need to use the wheelchair quite a bit more. But using that wheelchair gets me out the door. So… I have to use more oxygen. So what! Right? I’m here.. talking to you.. my friends.

What is my goal? It is always to try to maintain my health and keep it stable. It’s to keep myself out of the hospital. It means that I rest when I need to rest, use my oxygen (which I always do!) and take my medicine. The most important thing to do is to keep myself away from sick people.

Don’t forget to email me to enter the giveaway. I put a Need a Hug? menu button at the top of my blog to make it easier to know the giveaway deadlines and to see the current lapghan/afghan that is being given away. This giveaway is open to everyone.. even international (outside the US).

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14 thoughts on “Understanding my ABG…

  1. Thank you for posting the meaning of your ABG results. And a big THANK YOU for being so positive. I am a “glass is half full” person myself and like seeing it in others.

    I see my PH specialist on Tuesday (1/28/14) and don’t have the ABG scheduled, just an echo & the 6 min. marathon. But they could request a ABG for my next visit, since it has been over a year since my last one. I’ll keep you posted.

    • Hi Trish,

      You are so welcome! I will be thinking of you during your appointment on the 28th hoping all goes smoothly. I hope you don’t have to have an ABG but if you do, I pray the results are promising. The ABG that I had about a week ago was the first one I’ve had since 2009. Remember to wear light clothes for that 6-minute walk. Oh, and lightweight shoes too! *hugs*
      Christine

  2. Christine
    I so appreciate your forthright postings; you are
    much to be admired. You give hope and encouragement with your explanations.
    Thank you; ABG fits in my head a little better now.
    God bless.

    • Thank you Nan! I haven’t seen you around in a while. I hope you are doing well. *hugs* I remember when, years ago, I had an ABG. I read all the numbers and thought, now what the heck does all this mean? The human body is a very confusing thing!

  3. I appreciate your openness and honesty and the fact that your willing to share and explain what things mean. You have taught me so much since I have found your blog. Your positive outlook is something I admire. 🙂 I don’t know how you constantly give of yourself when you don’t always feel so well or upbeat. Thank you for all your support. Hugs n Prayers …..Michelle

    • You are so very welcome michelle! Sometimes I have to give myself a little break in-between blog postings. I try hard to be positive all the time but I am human and some things just hit me harder than I can handle. But being silly on a daily basis keeps me going! 😉

  4. Thank you, Christine for sharing your test results but most of all thank you for sharing your attitude about how you look at your life. You are amazing. Thank you again my Friend.
    Prayers always,
    Your Friend
    Julia

  5. Thank you, Christine, for your blog! I began to follow your blog because I was diagnosed with severe PH in August, but do not have access to the healthcare I need because I lost my job and my insurance coverage. Without access to a specialist, I have to try to educate myself, and reading your blog has helped much. Keep up the good work, you make a difference – bless you!

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