Staying Active…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I AM SO EXCITED!!! K built me a second raised garden bed so that I can plant even MORE vegetables this year. He knows that my energy is waning but he is wanting me to keep active so that my lung function stays stable. Plus, staying active makes me happy even though it takes a lot more energy. So, this year, K has committed to helping me with my garden whereas, last year, he told me it would be my responsibility to take care of it.

Here’s some of my gardens:

I planted 8 seed potatoes this year.

Carrots, Broccoli, & Herb garden.

I know what he’s doing and I appreciate it very much. He’s getting more involved in hopes that I will be encouraged to keep moving which has declined over the last 6 months. In fact, we even went out clothes shopping for me last week. I normally hate shopping but I hadn’t had any substantial new clothes in years. I’m someone who will wear what I own for years before I become willing to shop for new stuff. Shopping makes me tired and again, K was so instrumental in helping me make shopping for clothes really fun. He helped me pick out clothes (because he’s SO good at! haha!), came in the dressing room and helped me get clothes on and off if I needed it, went out for exchanges for different sizes, told me to rest when he saw I was getting tired, AND told me, as I was showing off each piece of clothing, how much he liked it or asked me if I liked it or will I be comfortable in it. You see, I have scoliosis and clothes don’t always fit right. It can discourage me a lot when I go out clothes shopping. So having K there in the dressing room giving his opinion was SO helpful. He’s never gone into the dressing room with me before. So, yeah, he’s noticing and really trying to make a difference in my life and our happiness.

Today, I have February’s Need a Hug afghan being mailed out to a sweet lady, Linda. I’m still working on March’s afghan. It’s about half done. I hope I can finish it by the end of this month. I hope everyone is doing well. Much love to you all! *HUGS*

P.S. I just told K that I need a new Rubber Chicken. *sniff* Klondike’s (my current chicken) finally broke his neck *cringe*. It’s so sad because he’s been on some amazing adventures! When I get a new one, I will need help with naming him (or her). I’ve never had a girl rubber chicken before! Yes, I know I’m a bit strange about these chickens but they are our Road Trip Mascots. They go on our vacations with us for good luck. *sigh* So far, over the last 29 years, we’ve had Poke, Poke Jr., Mr. Chicken, & Klondike as our mascots. It really is a fun thing to do. haha! Like I’ve always said, finding something fun to distract me from my health, no matter how silly it can seem, is how I deal with life.

It took 25 years.. but I did it!

Living On Oxygen for Life

PROLOGUE
K and I have been together for 28 years and counting. I’m very happy and proud of us for such a monumental achievement. We’ve been married for 24 of those years. It’s not easy to live with someone whose health is progressively changing. In the beginning, the changes in our lives came about slowly. We kind of thought, well, maybe I wasn’t doing enough to keep myself in good health. Maybe I was getting a wee bit lazy? But then, I would have a major health issue and our lives would be thrown into a temporary upheaval. Over the years, this would occur and sometimes without a warning shot across the bow to let us know it was about to happen. That’s the hardest part of having breathing problems (and heart problems!). We just never know when the unexpected will happen. One day I’m feeling good and then the next, I’ll be feeling like I want to sleep all day, all week and feel like I can’t snap out of it. At least that’s what it’s feeling like for me this last few months.

TRUE STORY

Over the past 25 years, during the month of September and October, Texas holds its State Fair. Every year I would ask K if we could go to the fair. It looked fun. I mean, the reporters from the news channels would all make it sound and look like fun. There are fun games, rides, and all the junk food you could imagine! Who wouldn’t want that? Apparently, K didn’t. Boo! He would always tell me that it would be too hard on me. It’s too much walking. It’s too hot… He had me with the “it’s too hot..” Darn him!

But this year, I didn’t really even ask. I haven’t really felt well. Last week he asked me what I was doing on the weekend. I scrunched up my eyebrows in deep concentration trying to remember if I had anything planned. Then I got my cellphone out because my memory wasn’t able to think of anything and I knew my calendar on my phone would have more information than my brain would have. Sad, I know! haha! So, I looked and what do you know?? I had nothing planned. K asked me if I would want to go to the Texas State Fair with him on the weekend. This time, I squinted my eyes at him trying to figure out if this was the same man I’ve known for the past 28+ years. All while my heart started melting with happiness and excitement. I couldn’t believe it! He finally changed his mind. He even said that “we’ll use the wheelchair, take both portables, and only stay as long as you can handle it.” Holy smokes! Well ok then! We’re going to the State Fair! Naturally, I did a mental happy dance!

It took us an hour to drive to the state fair and another hour to park. Sheesh! What a sticky wicket that was but at least we got to hop on the Tram to ride up to the front gate from our parking spot. Woohoo! They even had a place in the back of the tram where K could fold up the wheelchair and load it up on the tram. Well, that saved us some walking time for sure. We didn’t even have to stand in line to get tickets because before we left, I did a bit of research and bought our tickets & coupons for food online and printed them out. I do have to say that it was stinking hot. It was 90 degrees. It’s supposed to be Fall!

What’s the state fair without meeting Big Tex? He sure is tall. His clothing wasn’t what I thought it would look like though. I thought his belt would actually be a belt but it looked as if it was part of his “jeans” pants. His boots looked cool and like actual boots!

Big Tex

Now, we entered the state fair with somewhat of a plan. I also had the forethought to print out a state fair map and find the ONE THING K HAD TO SEE and that was the Clydesdale Horses. They are the ones who pull the Budweiser’s truck/wagon/whatever that thing is. It took us a while to find that thing. Mainly because K couldn’t hear the directions I was giving him. I mean, I have a map for heavens sakes! Oh well, we eventually found them. They were so beautiful!!! They had several of the dalmatian dogs there with them.

Clydesdales dalmation horse

We also got a little turned around and ended up in the Auto Show building.

Nascar futurecar KiaRat

Throughout the day we stopped off to try some Fair Food. We both tried a funnel cake, fried snicker bar, a hotdog and a hamburger. I have to say that everything fried tasted like a funnel cake batter-breaded. I’m not a big fried food eater. Overall, I had a great time and I’m finally glad I can cross the Texas State Fair off my bucket list. Needless to say, we both took a super long nap when we managed to get home that evening. The drive home was just as traffic-conjested as the way to the Fair.

Our Vacation Experience with Oxygen

Living On Oxygen for Life

Keep in mind as you read this blog post that K and I are very experienced with traveling while loaded down with multi reservoirs of liquid oxygen. We are safe drivers and we take precautions before we head out on the road for vacation to ensure that our vehicle is in what we call, “Vacation Ready” mode. That means we take it to our favorite auto repair mechanic and ask them to look at our vehicle and make sure it’s ready for a road trip. We ask them to take a good look at the tires, brakes, belts, and to change the oil. They fix anything that needs to be fixed because we don’t want to be miles away from home and have car trouble. Thankfully, we have AAA (triple A roadside service) Membership.

Everything we need for vacation, including medical supples.

Everything we need for vacation, including medical supples.

When we plan a vacation, there are a lot of factors that go into the planning. The very most important factor is the location of my DME company in relation to my vacation destination. We also take into consideration whether there are any Lincare’s along the way. For the ones along our route to and from our destination, we could possibly set up a refill for my liquid oxygen reservoirs by asking my local Lincare office to set it up. The Lincare that I stop at for refills have to have the capability to fill liquid reservoirs. Some Lincare companies no longer do liquid oxygen.

This year we decided to find a beach that we’ve never been to before. We love the beach and for the past few vacations, we’ve only tried to rent beach house one other time. The only thing with this house that we rented on the beach was that it was on stilts. We didn’t realize the stairs to the house would be so darn steep. When we finally got the keys and drove the short distance from the office to our rental house, we pulled in and saw the stairs. We brought with us 2 – 100 pound reservoirs of liquid oxygen that weigh about 165 pounds full (but feel like you’re lifting a ton!). It took both of us, with K doing the lifting. I was standing behind him supporting his back with one of my hands pressed hard against him making sure he didn’t fall backwards. By the time we got that tank and the 75 pound reservoir up the stairs and into the house, we decided that the other 100 pound reservoir could stay in the vehichle since it was parked in the shade under the house. We were both sweaty and hot after that. It was so humid.

Oxygen vs. Stairs

We planned an extended vacation this year. My health has been declining. So, we both knew that I would need extra days when we arrived in Alabama and even in-between to adjust to the heat and humidity. It took me 2 days resting off and on before I could get outside and start having fun. K was super kind about not pressuring me to do anything that I didn’t feel like I could do. I arrived at the beach house with a migraine headache because the drive was stressful for me. The first day we drove we stayed overnight at a hotel. We came out the next morning and found one of our tires was flat from a piece of wood embedded into the side wall of the tire. Luckily, K had a tire air compressor in the back of the van and he aired it up enough to take it to a tire shop where he bought a new tire.

Flat Tire

The second day we drove, K stopped to fill the van with gas, it was my turn to drive this time. For some reason, as I was sitting there waiting for K to come back from the bathroom, the fuel light went on but the fuel gauge stayed at full. I don’t know what made me do it but I actually pushed the tripmeter to zero it out. At least I would know how many miles I’ve gone with the gas that I have in the tank. Anyway, the fuel gauge scared me by dropping all the way to EMPTY while K was a sleep. Ten minutes later, the fuel gauge would start raising back up to full and the light would go off. That was creepy scary. I let K drive after that. Apparently, there’s a wiring problem. Ugh!

After I was ready to get out of the beach house, I hit the beach! Even from the wrap around porch of our beach house on one day, we could see a few dolphins swimming off the coast!

It’s easy taking my oxygen to the beach. K had set up a tent with two beach chairs beneath it for me to relax and watch K wade into the water. When I wanted time in the water, K would either carry my portable on his shoulder and hold my hand as we walked into the waves OR he would have me connect my 50ft tubing to my portable and clip my portable to one of the beach chairs that he’d move closer to the shore. I’d bury the feet of the chair in the sand to give it more stability. I’d just need to sit my tank right in the seat with strap clipped to the top of the chair. Perfect! I could walk up to 50ft into the water or just sit on each of the tide.

Dolphins along the coast of Gulf Shores, AL

Dolphins along the coast of Gulf Shores, AL

This is how I sit at the beach under a tent on low beach chairs.

This is how I sit at the beach under a tent on low beach chairs.

Rocco would sit with me while I crocheted on vacation.

Rocco would sit with me while I crocheted on vacation.

We went out to celebrate my 47th birthday and our 24th Anniversary!

We went out to celebrate my 47th birthday and our 24th Anniversary!

We really had a good time on vacation. We didn’t want to come home so soon even though we spent 10 days in the beach house. I think next time we are going to try to stay longer. It all depends on how well my health holds up. *fingers crossed* YAY!

I wasn’t ready for a change…

Living On Oxygen for Life

For those of you who read my blog and use oxygen, have any kind of breathing problem or any kind breathing device, you know life can be challenging. Life is filled with highs and lows. When you get in those high places, it feels like you are accomplishing the things you want to do in life. Unfortunately, those high places don’t always last as long as we want them to last. At least, that is how it seems to me. Sometimes the lows can be pretty low and lasts for what seems like a lot longer than I’d prefer.

Switching over to Tikosyn from Cordarone involved a lifestyle change for me. It’s been a crushing blow to my happiness. Instead of one step back in health, it feels more like two steps back. It made me really frustrated, thinking and wondering what I did wrong. It’s made me have to, once again, reinvent ways of getting things done around the house. Some of the things, K has completely taken over which adds more stress for him. Both of us were hit hard with this unexpected change in my ability level. I get short of breath from scooping a cat box (which he now does) or using a broom on the floor.

K takes good care of me and I’m grateful for his love and understanding. He’s come a long way. *wink* He stopped thinking that I was just being lazy about ten years ago. He’s always known that I have breathing problems as well as the pulmonary hypertension on top of everything else. He just didn’t realize or understand how much & how quickly the Pulmonary Hypertension would progress over a relatively short amount of time.

So now, I’m going to take care of him. I’ve decided we’re going on a much needed vacation since we haven’t gone on one in 3 years. Right now all I can think of is how good the sand will feel under my feet with the water washing over them. This will involve a lot of planning for my oxygen needs but it’s always been so worth it. I’ve already secured our accommodations and I’ve even bought travel insurance just in case we have to cancel at the last minute or if one of us becomes sick while on vacation. It’s good to have a backup plan just in case there’s a hurricane too!

We both really need this getaway. We rarely watch TV while on vacation. We leave our worries behind while on vacation too. So it’s like we’re on an island made for us.. though, technically we’re not. This is our way to get back to a healthy mind and release all the stress even if it is for just a little while.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m getting into the swing of the new changes we’ve made. I’m back to blogging and YES Klondike will be going with us on our vacation. My sister sent him back to me! Yay! Stay tuned in for more blog posts from me! Stay well everyone! I enjoy talking with you on Facebook and by email! goredrider@gmail.com is my email address for those of you who have questions or would like to say Hi!

–Christine

Gearing up for the PH International Conference and What’s up with my heart?

Living On Oxygen for Life

I’m super excited to be going to the PH International Conference in Dallas this month. Hooray! I’ll be surrounded by so many people who have the same disease that I have. I hate to even call it a “disease” but that’s what Pulmonary Hypertension is. It’s a disease that has no cure but it’s slowing amassing some amazing medicines to help battle the symptoms that PH causes. We still need a cure. The conference is going to be a way for me to learn even more about PH. I want to actually try to find other people to have Pulmonary Hypertension who also has Scoliosis like I do. My PH is secondary to Scoliosis and Restrictive Lung Disease due to Scoliosis deforming my rib cage. Finding others like me will be difficult. Not many people out there like this. PH is a rare disease. I want to find those people and compare how they manage life with how I manage life and breathing. Maybe we could learn something from each other. *fingers crossed*

Before I go to this conference, I have to get through the next 9 days of the 10-day Halter Monitor I’m wearing to get a read on what my heart is doing. Tikosyn is not really helping my heart arrhythmias which is discouraging. The doctors didn’t believe me so I “suggested” that they do a Halter monitor to see what’s going on. We’ll find out one way or the other. Right? Like I said, *fingers crossed*

I’m actually impressed with the newer halter monitor that I’m wearing. It’s cool! I get a “Sensor” that has 3 leads and I wear it around my neck from an attached lanyard. Plus, there is the “Monitor” which is like a cellphone. When I have an “episode” with my heart skipping, I get to push a button on the screen of the monitor and go through a few questions about: What is happening? (I check: Heart skipping), What’s your activity? (I click either resting, mild, moderate, or heavy). So far, I’ve not had to click on heavy activity. I’m not crazy! haha! It’s raining and humid here. So, my activity is limited to indoors, low to minor-moderate activity because I get tired a lot faster in this kind of weather. There’s no telling what my carrots look like in my garden. I only have one orange left on my dwarf orange tree. The wind blew the others off.

If you want to see the many pictures of Klondike’s Adventure in Germany, you can view them all here… you don’t need an account to view them. My sister really did show my rubber chicken a good time so far. His trip is coming to an end soon. I’ll be meeting my sister and her family when they fly through on their way home. Maybe I should make her some more cookies! Shh! It will be a secret!

Stay well and be safe. Lots of love to you all! *heart emoji!*

–Christine

Klondike’s Adventure Begins! Off to Germany!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Yesterday was so exciting! K & I drove to meet my sister & family at their hotel for a visit before they take off today for their vacation. It was so great! Yesterday, though, I got a text from one of my twin nephews asking if I’ll make his favorite cookies. The whole family loves Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. I texted back.. “Of course I will!” I made a whole batch yesterday morning at 5am because I couldn’t sleep any longer. Before I started, I was kind of freaking out because I thought I ran out of sugar and thought I didn’t have enough 1-minute oatmeal but I finally found the new bag of sugar that was hidden away and the oatmeal ended up being enough. Whew!

I made Klondike a new hat, an English to German dictionary (like his French one), a fun tourist map of Germany, some miniature old newspapers of WWII as reading material for my chicken while on the plane, his wallet & money, his Germany Travel Journal (different from his Paris Journal) and his passport. My sister said she will get some German stickers to cut down to size to add as customs stamps to his passport. How clever is that? She’s very creative like me.

The first picture came in today as they are getting ready to head to the airport. Klondike is a PRETTY COOL DUDE! I can’t wait to share his adventure with you and hopefully brighten your days to come like it does for me. Being on oxygen, we need all the fun and exciting things we can get to help us get through life. So, even though owning a rubber chicken who goes off on adventures is a little silly, he does his job in brightening my day. He really makes me laugh so much! lol!!!

Klondike is wearing his fuzzy wolf ears from the hotel and enjoying his first Chocolate Oatmeal cookie. He's ready to travel!

Klondike is wearing his fuzzy wolf ears from the hotel and enjoying his first Chocolate Oatmeal cookie. He’s ready to travel!

This is the cover of his dictionary. It's only 2 inches tall. Everything fits in his backpack.

This is the cover of his dictionary. It’s only 2 inches tall. Everything fits in his backpack.

Stay well everyone!!!

Day Two… It continues.. Tikosyn!

Living On Oxygen for Life

There is one thing I want to bring up about the first day that I failed to mentioned in my earlier post about Day One. I’m still pretty upset about it. In fact, at the time, K and I were both very upset and flabbergasted about the whole incident. You see… when I have to stay in the hospital, I naturally bring along my bipap machine so that I can immediately have it available to use and I also bring all of my medicine. All of my medicine includes my specialty medicine which I know that hospitals, even though they are hospitals with lots and lots of drugs, may not have a supply of my specialty medicine. When I went to the Dallas hospital in 2014, that hospital didn’t have my Opsumit, that I was taking (no longer taking now!), in their pharmacy.

On the 26th of May, my first day of hospital stay, the hospital realized that they didn’t have Tracleer in their pharmacy. The nurse came to tell us in my room and I said that’s no problem because this has happened to me before in 2014 in a Dallas hospital. I brought my Tracleer with me in it’s bottle. The pharmacist can inspect it, slap a patient label on it and put it in their pharmacy locker to dispense out to me. The nurse went to call the pharmacy to see if that was ok to do. She came back and told me the hospital pharmacy said they couldn’t do that, saying something about a law? *shrug* I told the nurse that I can not be without this medicine. The pharmacy looked around for a small supply of Tracleer 62.5mg and found some all the way in Dallas that they were going to have brought to Fort Worth for me that night. I was so mad. I was mad because I had my medicine not but one foot from me and they wouldn’t allow me to offer it to take. I was mad because the hospital had someone in Dallas drive in pouring down rain and hail to bring to it to me to use. AND I was mad because I knew this medicine costs $8500 for a month supply and I didn’t want an exorbitant charge for Tracleer on my bill when I have mine to take that the insurance has already paid for when all they had to do is inspect mine and put a patient label on it. Sorry, but I’m still really upset about this.

Ok…Day Two.. It was much better than day one…although, I didn’t get to sleep until 2am because the last vital check was at midnight and I couldn’t fall asleep until 2am. I’m a night person naturally but I was getting in that zone where if I get too tired, I can’t fall asleep. That’s a very bad thing for me to have happen. I will start to feel physically sick. At 4am, it was Tikosyn time! Then nearly 5am, they came in to take vitals and shortly afterwards, the lab lady came in to take blood. Do you see a pattern here? Anytime I would nearly fall back asleep, I’d get woken back up and by 6am it was time for the EKG. By then, I just decided to stay awake and wake for breakfast and K to arrive. And don’t forget the diuretics to begin. They had all my medicine split apart and coming to me at different times. It was crazy because I was so use to taking morning meds when I woke up and then evening medicines right around 5 or 6pm.

I drew this picture and stuck it on the bathroom door. You see me on the island?

I drew this picture and stuck it on the bathroom door. You see me on the island?

K scooted into the hospital right before the doctor showed up and I had my list of questions ready. I think he was impressed because I had them listed on a small notebook I brought in case I needed it. (I highly recommend this!) My doctor noticed that I had my yarn out and had asked if I crocheted. I was impressed that he knew what crocheting was and told him that K calls it knitting. The doctor said crocheting and knitting aren’t the same.. I felt like we had a bonding moment there. haha! He looked around the room and noticed my sign on the bathroom door. I’m so goofy!

This was the worse meal I had at the hospital. Plus it had pepper on it.

This was the worse meal I had at the hospital. Plus it had pepper on it.

The food here was something else. I was stuck choosing from the Heart Healthy diet on a paper menu but I started to get smart by penciling in requests like a bagel and a chocolate chip cookie. The bagel, I got! The extra chocolate chip cookie, I did not. *pout* However, K did go down to the in-house Starbucks and bought us some goodies. For him, he bought a couple of blueberry muffins.. the kind with crumble topping… and for me, 2 chocolate chip cookies of which he snagged one. By the way, all the vending machines in the hospital only had healthy selections..even the soda or other beverages were diet. Gross! After lunch, I couldn’t believe I was able to get a 2 hour nap. It was AWESOME! Then K was like, let’s get your butt up and walk the hall. We did this the first day and he won’t let me get lazy just because we’re in the hospital because he knows that the more time I spend in that bed, the more my lungs lose function and I can have a set back. So, staying active was our main goal. As long as I wasn’t dizzy or woozy, I walked twice a day with him.. or my nurse tech when K had to go home for the night to take care of some errands for his mom and take care of our dog.

K use to sing and act out this song by the Beatles (A Day in a Life) for me.

K use to sing and act out this song by the Beatles (A Day in a Life) for me.

After hanging my motivational picture on the bathroom door, I wrote on the patient information board. It’s a dry-erase board in my room. I wrote my Day’s Goal as to “Be A Ray of Sunshine.” Cute, huh? [Picture shown on Day Three post] I wrote it because I was so cranky the previous day. Before K left for home and while I was in the bathroom, he wrote me a goodbye motivational message on the board that he knew I would know what it meant. I came out of the bathroom and saw that he was guarding it so that I couldn’t see what it was that he wrote. I was thinking that he wrote something to the nurses to get me to walk that evening. I mean, he kissed me goodnight and made me pinkie-swear to walk that night no matter what. I thought it was so cute that he would pinkie-swear with me that I just went ahead and pinkie-sweared. Well, when I read what he wrote on the board, I almost cried. I know that to you it’s just lyrics to a Beatles song but to me, it’s a happy memory that makes me laugh out loud. He’s so good at writing the perfect thing that will touch my heart and lift me up.

On the second day of my hospital stay, the labs came back with an even higher than MY normal of CO2 (or bicarbonate) level. The doctor was concerned, thinking that he should adjust my diuretics but I told him that I have normally high bicarb and my kidney does a good job at balancing my pH level. I told him that I would prefer that he would consult with my PH doctor before changing any diuretic she prescribed. Personally, I don’t like one doctor messing with another doctor’s orders. He did say that he was ok with that and he agreed with not changing her orders but he was going to watch it. That doctor is my Pulmonary Hypertension doctor and there are good reasons why I’m on the medication that I am on. I brought a 15 page history of my major health history (with test results) just in case something went wrong and they’d need more information. I even gave it to my nurse, which she copied, but I don’t think the doctor even looked at. I don’t know for sure but I did it because I’ve never been to that hospital before. I do what I can not to only protect myself but also to protect K in the event that if something happened during this stay in the hospital, he’ll know what to do to get information he needs about me to make the right decisions.

Apparently, at the starting dose of Tikosyn, which is the higher dose, my QT Interval was too long on the second day. The doctor had to make an adjustment to my dose that evening. I was now taking the lowest dose.. 125mcg twice a day. He told me that by the last (5th dose) and after the EKG, he would know if they could send me home with or without the medicine. Remember, anything under 500 is good.