Little emergencies can be big problems.

Living On Oxygen for Life

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This was a bad moment at the doctor’s office today. The doctor recently started having an oxygen tank at her office because I told her it would be a good idea. You know, just in case. Well, today was that just in case moment when my tubing snapped off as K was switching my tanks.  We were all panicking until K remembered the recently acquired office oxygen tank (with cannula!) kept tucked away for emergencies. I had to hold my broken tubing onto my second full tank to try and get enough oxygen until they found another cannula. Thankfully, K moves fast and keeps a level head in a crisis. All I was in charge of was concentrating on breathing calmly until rescued. We have spare tubing in my van but that was in the parking lot 7 floors below. It would’ve taken too long to get it.

Life has a funky way of reminding me how fragile my body is but I can’t live in fear and never go anywhere. Lately, I’ve become a homebody because my breathing has gotten worse. I have to get myself out of the house more and I’m going I’m going to accept this challenge head on. Well, as soon as K fills my gas tank. I’ve decided that’s a “man’s job.” Honestly, I can’t handle the gas fumes. So, I have K fill my van for me.

What about you? Have you had some oxygen emergencies? Share your story in the comment section. Love y’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.

Learn about your oxygen concentrator filter

Living On Oxygen for Life

Good morning everyone! Whoops it already noon but it feels like morning to me because I woke up for the day about 30 minutes ago. I was so absorbed in a good book that I didn’t realize that it was already 3:30am when I looked at the time. I even had to struggle to put the book down. It was so good!

This blog entry will be short… Sorry.. Sorry! I know you love my long.. really long blog posts but at least this one has a video! YAY! In this video, on Youtube.com, I talk and show you an oxygen concentrator filter. Bare in mind that my filter may not be exactly like the one that is inside of your concentrator. But that’s ok.. they work the same way. You can watch it and then tell me what you think. Ok?

 

I hope everyone is doing well today. Don’t forget to stay active by finding something exciting and new to try. Like a hobby! I’m about to go outside to look at my elevated raised garden to see how much my veggies have grown already. I have pictures and I can’t wait to show you in my next post.

[April 2015]

What do you mean 24/7?

Living On Oxygen for Life

I’m trying to think back to how long I’ve used oxygen 24/7. That’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s been many, many years. Let me think…It was definitely after I got married. Though I was still on oxygen. I started when I was 17 years old. But, I started using oxygen 24/7 in probably 1993. Ok Wow! That’s 21 years. Yep, I just did the math. It’s amazing, right? This shows us that we really can live a long time even though we need supplemental oxygen. I keep looking at that 21 years and it’s making me smile. All the fun, goofy things I’ve done and all the adventures I’ve been on over these past 21 years have been so crazy fun.

When I say that I use oxygen 24/7, I mean that I’m always using oxygen whether it’s to water my plants outside or taking a shower. I get in a swimming pool, put make up on, clean the house, and basically everything else a person has to do to live and have fun. I don’t worry about being in water with my oxygen on. Water won’t get into the tube. If I’m using my portable and I’m at the beach, I put my portable oxygen tank in a plastic bag. My husband digs a hole in the sand and drops the portable that’s in the bag into the hole and then covers it with a towel. I use a 25 to 50 foot tubing attached to my portable tank and then I wade out into the water! It’s so fun but I have to be really careful to make sure no one else who’s on the beach trips over my tubing. We usually pick a spot on the beach where no one else is around or go to the beach early in the morning or late in the evening. If there are a lot of people on the beach, K will hold my portable, take my hand and walk me out into the ocean so that I can get in the water. I do NOT swim. I’m totally scared of water. I drowned once when I was about 2 years old and I think that has A LOT to do with why I have a massive phobia about water. It’s really inconvenient because I think swimming looks really relaxing. Though, I will float in a blown up tube!

I do take my oxygen off when people are taking my picture but not always. I’m not able to stay off my oxygen for more than a few minutes without really suffering from my oxygen desaturating.

I’ve been so busy lately. K and I are having a few things done on our house and it’s taken up so much of my time that I’ve not been able to blog lately. Hopefully with most of the house projects finished, I will be back in action again on my blog. I do apologize. I have been on Facebook, email, and Instagram because I can write from my phone and iPad. So, I’m still here!

My newest “Need a Hug” giveaway is posted! The deadline to enter for the afghan is June 30th, 2014 at midnight. I hope you will enter! Lots of love to you all!

I want to share this song with you… my friends!

My experience with the Bipap machine…

Bipap

Living On O2 for Life

If you use a bipap machine, like I do, this post is for you. I’ve been using a bipap machine since 1993 which is a pretty long time. All sorts of sleep studies had to be done to get qualified for a bipap machine from my medical insurance. Then came the difficulty of getting use to wearing it and breathing with it on. My poor sinuses went through a tough time for a while. Then the whole issue of getting over the thoughts of “Oh my gosh! My health is getting worse!” along with the whole anxiety from the fear of sleep apnea. But once you get use to sleeping with the machine on, you’ll realize when you wake up and go about your day, you’ll find that you will have more energy and feel better.

Some of the issues I’ve had with my bipap machine are written below along with the things that I do to help me resolve the problems.

  • Feeling claustrophobic while breathing through the mask. I use the mask shown in the above picture. It covers my entire nose. Just above the white tube that has the oxygen port (where you attach the oxygen tubing), there is a vent that allows CO2 to blow out of the mask. Make sure this is not covered while you are sleeping. Also, I have a small 12″x12″ box fan on my dresser pointed directly at my face. This helps with claustrophobia and it seems to help with keeping the air within the bipap hose cool. I personally do not use the humidifier with my bipap. The only time that I have used it was when I was sick with bronchitis. It helped keep me from coughing so much.
  • Too warm or too cold air flowing through the mask. If you have warm air flowing through the mask, check to see if the HEAT button is not pushed. On my machine, it will show HEAT on the screen if it is turned on. Sometimes my cat will walk across the machine and will turn it on without me knowing it. Darn that cat!!! You can also try my fan idea too. However, I keep it pretty cool in my house by running the a/c at 72 degrees. It really helps me breathe easier with cooler air. My husband hates it but he tolerates it because he knows it helps me.  If it is wintertime and the air is too cold, turn on the HEAT on the machine. If you don’t have a heat capability on your bipap (older model machines don’t have this), what I use to do is tuck most of the 6 foot tube under the covers of my bed with me. The covers act as insulation! It helps but it’s not perfect.
  • Stuffy nose problems. This is the worst! The only thing that I’ve found that truly works for me are the Breathe Right Nasal Strips. (no I don’t get paid to suggest these…) If you want to try them, here is a link to request a free sample of them and a coupon: Try Breathe Right Nasal Strips!
  • Anxiety. It was difficult for me to get use to the bipap machine. I have a Synchronized/Timed unit… meaning that it breathes basically at my rate but it has a backup Breaths per Minute setting that if I, for some reason, stop breathing or start to slow down my breathing below my setting of 22 bpm, then my bipap will kick in almost like a respirator. Getting use to the pressures of the air flowing in and out of my lungs was a challenge. For a while I had to use Xanex but now I’m a pro at using my bipap and couldn’t be without it when I sleep or need to do some serious resting while awake to give my lungs a break. The secret to a successful night of sleep with a bipap is relaxation.

I’d really like to hear from you. What are the experiences you are having with using a bipap machine?  There are different types of masks such as a full mask that covers both nose and mouth for those who like sleeping while breathing through their mouth, nasal pillows (my least favorite… too much direct air pressure into the nose), and the nose mask. I’ve even used my bipap in my car during a roadtrip! Who doesn’t like roadtrips???

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