Springtime brings the good and the bad…

Living On Oxygen for Life

Spring is coming!!! Ok… Here in Texas, it feels like Summer will be here soon. It’s already touched 80 degrees. So, that has encouraged me to string my 50ft cannula out the back door to watch K construct my newest raised garden for planting vegetables. He asked me how big I wanted it to be and I told him at least 8 feet long. He replied, how about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide? And then we began the negotiations for the height. I accomplished 16 inches in height which means we both were happy in the end. He was afraid if he made it bigger, it would tire me too much. He said he’d build another one if I wanted later. We just want to see how I do with this add-on garden. Don’t forget… I still have my 4ft elevated bed from last year that I’m using again.

This is a great way that K and I keep myself moving and motivated. There’s nothing like watching something grow into a plant you can eat!! Remember my 3 lemons? I made some awesome lemonade?

I made lemonade from the lemons I grew!

I made lemonade from the lemons I grew!

Lately, I’ve discovered myself in a battle with a nocturnal cat. The stinker likes digging in my gardens and darn near killed my basil. Well, I’ll show it who’s boss! I went to Walmart a bought a whole bolt of toile netting and then off to Home Depot with K to but some PVC tubing. I feel a MacGyver Moment coming on. I created a dome netting to cover each garden!

My 2016 garden adventure!

My 2016 garden adventure!

In the upper left corner of the above picture shows a bunch of orange blossoms on my dwarf orange tree K bought me about a month ago. Even my lemon tree is budding flowers again. Yay!

Ok now the not-so-great news. With the warming weather, it brings along pollen and other breathing irritants such as what seems like more air pollution. With warm weather, my body starts to retain water causing swelling and difficulty breathing which means I have to move a little slower. Well, ok, a lot slower. Right now, I’m starting my practice of getting my body ready for our Texas summer heat. I go outside on warm days for short periods of time and then go back inside to rest. I only go out in short bursts and gradually increase my tire outside allowing my body time to adjust.

My first Homemade fresh fruit Popsicles that I made. Raspberry (sieved to make seedless), mango, lemon.

My first Homemade fresh fruit Popsicles that I made. Raspberry (sieved to make seedless), mango, lemon.

For a while I’ve wanted Popsicle molds. I finally found some cute one and tried my hand at making my very first fresh fruit Popsicles. Getting the seeds out of the raspberries with my sieve was super slow going. That was a lot of work. I hope they taste good. I made them a few days ago. I’m going to try them tonight. K and I are trying to eat fresher food. We no longer eat canned vegetables. Food tastes so much better fresh.

I have exciting news coming up in my next post. I thought I’d catch you up with what’s going on in my life. I hope you are doing and breathing well.

I’m still taking questions for my Q & A video that I’m going to make and post on my blog. If you have a question about me, oxygen, Bipap/Cpap, living with oxygen, Klondike (my rubber chicken) and his adventures, or even Rocco, you should email me your questions at goredrider@gmail.com I’ll try to answer your question in my video.

For the disabled…

Living On Oxygen for Life

handicap

I was out at a doctor’s office and K parked the van in a handicap parking space because I have difficulty walking from the parking lot to the building. It’s a longer than average walk to the doctor’s office compared to walking from a restaurant parking lot… just to give you a comparison. K takes out the wheelchair from the back of the van and puts the legs on and then pushes it to my side of the van for me to hop in my four-wheelin’ ride! Woohoo! Look at me go! Now I don’t always use the wheelchair but I do always use my oxygen. So, when you see me pulling into a handicap parking space and I slap up my handicap placard on my rearview mirror, you would see that I’m obviously disabled in someway. Right? I mean, it’s pretty darn obvious now-a-days with the oxygen canula and all.

However, my “disability” hasn’t always been so obvious. Even though I still had all those internal medical conditions, it wasn’t until just before I quit working that I applied for a handicap placard for my vehicle. I wasn’t using oxygen 24/7 at the time and when I used the placard that I had EVERY right to use, I felt weird about it because I didn’t LOOK obviously handicap. But, do I quit using it and subject my heart to the extra stress from the exertion of walking from a further parking spot? You know me… I’m a rebel! I didn’t care what others could possibly think of me. I did what was right for ME.

Getting a handicap placard isn’t as easy as getting a can of soda from a vending machine. Though, sometimes even that can be a pain in the butt! *bang* *bang* *bang* Give me my soda!!!. It’s not like you walk up to the counter and say, I want a handicap placard. You have to have a doctor approve of it first by filling out paperwork. Yuck! Paperwork! There are temporary placards and permanent placards. Temporary are for those who have temporary ailments that will last a short time.. like a broken leg or toe. A permenant placard is for people who have permanent disabilities on a long term status. Even permanent disabled placards need to be renewed every 5 years.

Before I was able to post this entry on my blog, one of my readers, Nicole, had written an EXCELLENT letter to her newspaper that they published. The letter is titled: Not all disabilities are visible. I think this letter speak of all people who do not have a visible disability but still need a handicap placard. I highly recommend everyone to read it. Nicole… YOU GO GIRL!!! Lots of love to you!

Don’t be afraid to use your handicap placard. You have it for a reason. Use it to help your body.

I will be having another “Need a Hug” afghan giveaway in May. If you would like to enter that drawing, please click on the above “NEED A HUG” menu link to read what you need to include in your email to me. You can email me anytime at goredrider@gmail.com to enter before the giveaway has started. Take a minute to sign up to follow my blog so you won’t miss a thing! Life is good and Summer is finally showing itself here. It’s getting pretty hot! I planted my tomato plant and a jalepeno plant just yesterday. My raspberry bush has tiny raspberries already!!! I’m SOOO excited! I hope they don’t die. I’m a first-timer gardener. Be well everyone!

A little about my childhood…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I was born as the middle child of two sisters. Both are healthy.. thank goodness! Growing up, I was restricted from certain gym class activities; things like running, jump roping, or anything that made me breathe hard from exerting myself too much. What was so great was that my family, especially my sisters never treated me like I was a fragile flower. In a way, that made me stronger inside. Even though I was born with serious heart and breathing problems along with the scoliosis that had me wearing a Milwaukee brace, I was still a kid who rode a bike chasing after the ice cream man, played two years of girls’ league baseball (wasn’t very good), and I was even in a bowling league. I’m sure wasn’t suppose to do all that because of my health but my parents tried to let me experience life as close to normal as possible. There were times where I had to sit out from the fun because it was just too beyond my capability.

I was born and raised until I was 12 in Fort Wayne, IN. My cardiologist was in Indianapolis, IN and my Orthopedic doctor was in Minnesota. So there was some traveling for doctor appointments and surgeries. The doctors kept putting off my open-heart surgery to patch the Ventricle Septal Defect (the hole in the wall between the ventricle chambers of the heart) because my pulmonary function was so bad (remember my deformed ribs?). They didn’t think I’d make it through the surgery. By the time I was 10 years old, my step-father convinced the doctors to go ahead with the surgery. For some reason, I knew that I’d be okay but my step-father was worried. Before the surgery, he paid for us to take a ride in a helicopter (he was a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam war) and then he played catch (baseball) in the hospital courtyard with me. I knew what he was doing. I made him a bet before the surgery that I would be in the hospital a total of 7 days. Three days in ICU and four days in regular ward. I think I surprised the pastor of the hospital who came to pray with me before the surgery. I knew in my heart that I would be okay. If I won the bet, I would get a Hershey candy bar. Well, I won and I got my candy bar.

It wasn’t until high school that my lungs and heart started showing more signs of trouble. My CO2 was too high and my O2 was too low. I would get tired fast, forget what homework I had to do, I had headaches, and then I got pneumonia. That’s when the doctors figured out that I needed oxygen at night when I slept. It helped some but it didn’t prevent the occasional blackouts I started to have. Those were scary, especially when I started driving. Then depression hit me hard. I became suicidal but never acted on it. I thought about it all the time. I wanted to be normal but I wasn’t and I just had to come to terms with that. After the final car accident I had because I blacked out and totaled the car, my parents revoked my driving privileges for a year. I didn’t KNOW what the blackouts I was having were.

After graduating high school, I took a year off from everything and just lived with my parents and got my head on straight. I grew as a person without all the stress of school and no set requirements of daily activities besides living. Then I went out in the world, got a job and found the man who will always love me. I can say I’ve survived a lot in life. I feel as if I’m a survivor. In my opinion, to become a survivor is to live your life in a way that makes you happy even with setbacks in your life. You have to go out in world and find that thing that makes you happy as a person despite your challenges.

Summer Vacation Tips

Living On Oxygen for Life

So, you use oxygen and are disabled. First thing, when planning to go on vacation, is to know your limitations. Just because you have limitations, (ie: get short of breath while walking, need help unloading luggage from the car, need time to take naps and even time to take your medication), it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun. You just need to make sure that the people you are going to be with on your vacation are aware of your need for help.

The hardest thing for me to accept when I started using oxygen 24/7 was that it was okay to ask for help. I would visit my sister and would need help unloading my things from my van. I would need help with some things that I normally would have been able to do years ago. I was afraid of asking because I felt like a burden. But my sister set me straight. She said she was family and family and friends would always willing help me and not consider me a burden. All I had to do was ask. They may not be aware of the help you need.

Try not to over think your vacation preparations but be prepared. AAA is good to have while traveling. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere while on oxygen. Before you leave home, talk with the person you may be traveling with and whomever you’re staying with once you get to your destination. Let them know what kind of things you might need help with. A major thing for me is to let people know that I need the air conditioner turned down to about 72 degrees. I need cool air to help with my breathing. It is only temporary for the time that I’m there but it is necessary for dry, cool air. If people are walking too fast for you, ask them to slow down. It shouldn’t be a big deal to them. If you are tired, rest, rest, rest. Remember that vacations are suppose to be fun and it can’t be all that fun if you let yourself get drained of energy. Remember your medicine and a prescription for your oxygen.

If you are going to a place on your vacation that requires a bit of walking, you might want to invest in a wheelchair. I bought mine from Amazon for a great deal. Invacare LightWeight Tracer EX2 Wheelchair 20″ with Swingaway Footrest-Blue (Folding, Assembled) Don’t forget the seat cushion.

This is me in my wheelchair. Notice how my husband hangs my portable tank on the handle bars. Behind the tank, I hung my tote bag where I kept whatever I needed in it. Driving a long, long, long distance and you use a bipap? Something interesting to have is a converter that plugs into a cigarette lighter and gives you a regular plug outlet for those machines, toys, and gadgets that don’t have a car charger. I’ve actually used the converter to plug in and use my bipap machine in the van for a quick power nap on the way to Las Vegas.

Make a list of all the things you need to take with you. Don’t forget your medicine and a cellphone. I always take my roadtrip mascot, Mr. Chicken. He’s my rubber chicken that poses in some of my pictures on vacation. There are a lot of ways to create fun on vacations. Just remember, you are not a nuisance or a burden. You use oxygen and people know that you need a little extra help. And that’s ok. So, relax and have fun. Take lots of pictures!!!