A Long Awaited Update! September/October 2017

Living On Oxygen for Life

Let’s be honest… I’ve missed blogging and I know it’s been since before my birthday (last month) that I’ve posted anything on my blog for you to read. In my defense, the last two months have been incredibly… what’s the word I’m looking for?… trying?…no. Hectic? You could say that. Let’s throw in challenging with a bit of a MacGyver twist and super stressful at times. If you wrap all that up and include my two road trips that I took (one to Oklahoma to see my family & one to South Padre Island for my birthday/25th anniversary), I have to admit, it’s been a pretty awesome adventure.

It all started with my birthday/anniversary vacation that we try to take every year. We both took turns driving down to South Padre Island which took us about 9 hours even while having to stop nearing every two hours (when K was driving) to get out and stretch our legs and walk the dog. Rocco loved sniffing new territory but I hated having to use convenient store or McDonald’s bathrooms. Not just because I never knew what to expect going into one of those things but also because getting in and out of the car and walking to the bathroom now wears me out and makes me short of breath in the worst way. That’s something new.


We made it to Padre and it was overcast but that’s ok because we knew Hurricane Harvey just past by and almost everything was up and running again on the island. Yay for us! Two days after we arrived, a boat washed up on the beach which drew everyone, including the Padre Beach police, to check the boat out. We should have set up a beach chair next to it and charged people for us to take their picture! It took nearly a week for the boat to wash up this far on the beach.


K and I normally go for a nice steak dinner for our anniversary celebration. But who knew that there wasn’t a restaurant on the island, nor close by on the mainland, that sells a good steak? Instead, we had a small party of two at our condo with a gigantic birthday/anniversary cake that K intended to share with the waitstaff had we gone to a restaurant. Thankfully we brought our big ice chest and I had some square foil pans to save the leftover cake to freeze and take home. You better believe that I ate it all once I got home (K had the last piece..darn him!). I LOVE birthday cake!

We really had a lot of fun and took a few goofy pictures. I was even a pirate! Argh! After ten days in Padre, it was time to go home and on the way home, the craziness began. We were north of Austin, Texas when it happened. I was reading and K was driving… thankfully. Our grill from the front of our van broke loose and flew over the hood and smacked our windshield and then continued over the top of the van. It scared us so bad. Thankfully, no one was behind us and we looked but didn’t see it land on the highway. We get home ok and called our mechanic to see what it would cost to get it replaced. $600! Are you kidding me? The thing was made mostly of plastic. K and I had the same idea… look on eBay for the part. K said he could fix it himself and I was, like, “You go Rambo…you get into that MacGyver mode!” Sure enough, it cost us a total of $200 and K attached it with no problems! YAY K!

What K didn’t tell me was that on the way home from Padre was that he was starting to see floaters in his right eye. Then when he went to work, he called his optometrist and they told him to come in RIGHT NOW. He had a detached retina. I was so worried because now he had to have surgery and this was his eyesight!. The first time I went with K to his optometrist, K told me that he had been telling the doctor about me because he has a daughter who has some similar health conditions. Let me tell you that I have no problem that K talked about me. I mean, I blog… so of course I don’t mind. I was really excited about meeting this doctor to learn more if he wanted to talk about it. Naturally, I knew this appointment was about K but I did bring a printed copy of an x-ray showing my scoliosis. This doctor was really neat and very personable. K and I really like him. But what excited me the most was his waiting room. Holy cow… the moment I walked into the building, I was thinking that EVERY waiting room should be like this one. There were crocheted afghans on a blanket rack next to the door and in each waiting area there was a card table with a puzzle to be put together. I immediately zoned in on the puzzle. K knows. I love puzzles and there was an older man sitting there working on the one I noticed. I just blurted out … “Oh yay a puzzle!!!” (I know you’re visualizing that.. aren’t you? haha!) The man heard me and started to get up saying that I could work on it. I told him to please stay and I can work on it with you. I told him that I love puzzles and this reminds me of when I worked on puzzles with my dad. Awww! I know, right? I was so engrossed that I didn’t even hear K’s name called by the nurse. What’s so awesome was that there was ANOTHER puzzle in the waiting room in the back! I was in waiting-room heaven!

K’s surgery went well but I wore myself out having to drive him to appointments and waking up to check to see if he wasn’t sleeping on his back for the first week after surgery. That was stressful but after the first week, he could sleep on his side but NOT on his back. You would think that it wouldn’t be a big deal but people move around while they sleep and K is accustomed to sleeping on his back. So, I had a lot of waking up to do to check on him. With everything that was going on with K, I truly had an eye opening experience about how much he does for me without complaining. He drives me to doctor appointments that are an hour away, he pushes me in a wheelchair when I need it, he takes care of everything in the background when I have migraines, not to mention doing most of the chores and all of the grocery shopping now…and most of this is done without me having to ask. I got a taste of what he does for me when I needed to take care of him for a change. I was definitely humbled and I gained a new appreciation for what he does for me. Not that I never appreciated it but my health is changing faster now, requiring K to do more and I don’t always see what he does for me.

Lots of love to you all! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to follow along! Leave a comment too! Have a great day!!!

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Happy September!!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Happy September everyone! I’m super excited! First because it’s September! Second because it’s almost my birthday. Third because it’s almost my 25th wedding anniversary! And fourth because, well, it’s almost Christmas!!! haha! Here in Texas the heat of the summer is starting to cool down. Unfortunately, a hurricane hit. It’s very sad. People are struggling to clean up the mess after realizing everything they owned is ruined or washed away. It’s most likely going to go down in the books as the worst hurricane disaster in the United States’ history. Hurricane Harvey dumped 25 trillion gallons of rain on Houston and the Southeast area of Texas. Please donate to Red Cross Organization if you can. God bless Texas.

I have been away from blogging for a bit (2 months!) and for that, I’m super sorry. I have been going through some health changes that needed some “lifestyle” adjustments (again)… which blows… However, I’m here now, ready to entertain you once again with my exciting life of living on oxygen. So, let’s begin! YAY!

Today, I went to my doctor appointment. As the nurse weighed me, she asked if I wanted to get my flu shot today. I was like, “What? You have them already???” [insert confused, surprised look on my face] I normally get my flu shot in October. Not that I find it superstitious to wait until October, but it’s always been my thing. Ok, maybe it’s a little superstitious. hehe! I could get it now but I don’t want to feel tired and achy around my birthday and 25th wedding anniversary. So, I’ll wait until next month. I never miss getting my flu shot. It really helps!

If you can get a flu shot, do it, but I know some people have negative reactions to them. Be extra diligent about washing hands after touching things in public.

As I was driving home from the doctor’s office, I was looking at the gas stations. They still have no gas in them. Some have diesel fuel left but not unleaded. A lot of people panicked and ran out to get their gas tanks topped off, filled up and some even filled a gas can the last few days. Now, no one has gas left. I’m sitting on just under a quarter of tank of gas. K’s car had a quarter tank left this morning but I’m not sure if he’ll have enough to get to work tomorrow. I hope gas comes soon. It’s starting to freak me out.

Crazy Awesome Weekend with Family!

Living On Oxygen for Life

I had a very long but fun weekend. First was the Pulmonary Hypertension doctor appointment and an Arterial Blood Gas drawn. Then we ate lunch at McDonald’s because we had other things we needed to do. We had to run to Walmart to return some stuff and pick up some forgotten thing from the grocery trip K did the previous day. Plus we picked up a new inhaler at the pharmacy. That was all on Friday.

When we came home from the errands, we got busy finishing up with cleaning the house because family was coming!!!! Yay!

After I made it to bed feeling exhausted, I knew I had to get up way early again for another appointment on Saturday that was a little over an hours drive away.

While we were at the appointment, my sister & her family already arrived at our house (we call it The Chateau), and we finally got home around 2pm. Yay! 

We got to babysit my niece for 4 hours, which was super fun but by the time they got back, K and I were wiped out.  My niece must have some sort of super-charged mega-battery that keeps her pumped up with energy.  I asked to borrow it but I didn’t think it’s transferable. Darn! 

We had so much fun but I’m glad we didn’t go to lunch with them today. It’s time for this girl to crash. I need sleep or at least down time. My niece is 7 and she asked me lots of questions (even taught me a two person hand-slapping song that was called Lemonade. I think?!) about my bipap mask that I was using when she snuck in my room to see if I was awake yet yesterday during my very short nap. She wanted her own cannula. She also wanted to see what it felt like with it connected to the oxygen. 

So, like a fun Auntie that I am, I used it as a learning experience for her. I got her a 7 foot cannula (like the ones used with portable tanks), connected it to one of my oxygen tanks, and I turned the oxygen on to 2 liters first. She wasn’t really impressed. So I told her, “Ok, now this is was it feels like at the amount that I have to use which 6 liters.” Her eyes got really wide when she felt it in her nose and she said, “Whoa! How do you do that?” “Baby girl, I do it because it helps me breathe.” 

I always want to make sure that she knows it’s ok to ask questions about me or my equipment. Curiosity can be a good thing when paired with learning about something that will expand her mind. We had a great time this weekend and I feel happy as I always do when I get to see one or both of my sisters. It’s like medicine to my soul. Sounds a little corny but it works for me. 

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!

Up all night…

Living On Oxygen for Life

Officially, it is Friday and Veterans Day. First, I would like to take a moment to say Thank You to all of men and women who have and are putting themselves in harms way to protect our freedom and our way of life. Many have sacrificed their life to give us the freedoms that we should never take for granted. We should always remember the price those men and women, throughout history, have paid for our rights and our freedom of choice.

Last night I was super tired and ended up going to bed at 8pm only to have to get back up at 9pm to take my Tikosyn. Because, you know, that pill has to be taken every 12 stinkin’ hours! Argh! Fear not, I was still super tired and promptly fell right back asleep. That is, until now, 1 o’clock in the morning.

I’m here under the covers in the dark bringing you my late, late, night ramblings of what happened to make me so tired. Yesterday, I had a doctor appointment. I got there a wee bit too early. I had to sit in my van for nearly 30 minutes because I wasn’t sure my portable oxygen tank would last long enough if I went in early. I have a 75 pound liquid oxygen reservoir tank in my van that I use to drive around on and to refill my portable. After about 30 minutes, I went into my doctor’s office for my annual physical. Yay what fun right? Actually, my family doctor is pretty darn cool!

According to all the labs I had done about two weeks prior, it looks like I should live another few years, at least! My doctor was surprised at how awesome my cholesterol and other test results were. Yay! I can continue to eat my pop tarts! Haha! As usual, my bicarbonate was high and my chloride was low but my kidney is keeping my pH level in balance. Thank you Jesus!

We did talk about pain management. Because my lungs don’t work as well as they use to (which wasn’t that great!), my options for pain management is VERY limited. My scoliosis is getting worse in the lumbar area of my spine and causing right hip pain which can be horrible at times when I sit or stand too long. Taking a whole Tylenol3 pill (that has Tylenol and codeine) is far too much for my body to handle. I have to break the tablet into quarters and take a fourth of a pill at a time. Even that much sometimes causes a migraine and troubled breathing. Alcohol has the same effect on me now. Instead of being able to drink a glass or two of wine or alcoholic drink like in the past, I can only drink about 1/3 of a cup before my breathing is affected. I still pour about 1/2 inch of wine in a glass occasionally to drink but never go for refills. It’s just not worth it. I think it affects my heart too much which I think is causing the breathing problems.

When I got home from my doctor appointment, I promptly took my diuretic medicine because I had to skip the morning dose. Then I dove right into making dinner, meatloaf, only to find out K will be late coming home. So instead of a full meal, we ended up eating meatloaf sandwiches. We love meatloaf sandwiches!! I’m not very good at being able to coordinate having all of the meal cooked and ready to sit down at the table to eat at the same time. I just don’t have that talent. haha! K is VERY good at it. He use to be a chef. No, before you ask, he does not cook on a regular basis at home. That’s my job. I don’t know where I went wrong in this scenario because he’s really good.

For the rest of the day, I plan to spend time with K. I am thinking about making a batch of my famous peanut butter cookies. I don’t bake cookies as much as I use to because it’s become harder and harder to mix the cookie dough. I don’t have a heavy duty KitchenAide mixer but I’m hinting towards one for Christmas. I can only get so far with a hand mixer and the rest has to be mixed by hand. The hardest cookie dough I’ve ever had to mix are the Chocolate with peanut butter chip cookies. Next would be Oatmeal Scotchies. Both cookies I LOVE! There’s nothing like a homemade cookie, right?

I’ve already started my next Need a Hug afghan. The last one was sent out to Jenny who lives here in the U.S. Click Need a Hug in the menu above to see how you can get your name on the list for one of my Need a Hug afghans.

I hope everyone has a great day. Stay well and warm. It’s finally down in the 70s here!

Sleep Study Time

Living On Oxygen for Life

There are different reasons for a person who may require a sleep study. Sleep Apnea is one of them. I’ve had quite a few sleep studies dating all the way back to 1993. Even though I was already on oxygen at night only, my lungs couldn’t work well enough while I slept to blow off the CO2 that my body was retaining. My breathing was too shallow. I would have really bad dreams and I’d stop breathing while I slept most nights and the problem was only getting worse.

I was seeing a Pulmonologist in Dallas, TX, in 1993, who realized that my scoliosis played a large role in my breathing problems. Because my ribs are so deformed from my scoliosis-curved spine, it reduced the lung capacity that I had to breathe. Twenty-four years ago, my lung volume was approximately 25% of what a normal, healthy person my current age back then. Today, it measured at 16% at my annual physical. So, over the span of 23 years, my lung capacity has lost about 1/3rd of it’s former volume. Now, if you add the complication of Pulmonary Hypertension to the mechanical difficulties of Restrictive Lung Disease (from my deformed ribs due to Scoliosis), my health becomes difficult to treat. Now, add heart complications. I was born with an ASD (closed on its own) and an VSD (surgically repaired at the age of 10 years old) but also currently have trouble with Ventricular Tachycardia & SupraVentricular Tachycardia. This is the challenge my doctors face. How do you treat one problem without it affecting the others? The answer? Very, very careful trial and error. I make myself heard and understood. I carry test results from one doctor to all my other doctors. We are a team.

So, when I was starting to have a noticeably difficult time breathing earlier this year, I decided to systematically figure out what is causing this large step back in health. I started with my PH doctor. Then went to my Electrophysiology-Cardiologist. After that, I went to my family doctor to bring him up to date. Next, I went to my Pulmonologist who follows my bipap machine. We set up a sleep study. Not my favorite thing to do. I hadn’t had a sleep study since 2009. Maybe I just needed my bipap setting tritrated and that would solve everything… but I don’t think it will. I’m still thinking it has to do with Tikosyn.. the new cardiac medicine I started taking in place of Cordarone.

Next week… I see my normal cardiologist for an ECHO and to ask for a second opinion about this Tikosyn. I’m not giving up until I’ve tried everything to figure out what triggered this breathing setback. I don’t want this to be my new normal. Sure, it’s nice that K does all the grocery shopping on his own but sometimes we have fun together doing it. It just makes me too tired now.

If you’ve never had a sleep study done and you’re curious about them because you have been told you need one, well, wonder no more!

SleepStudy

Here I am all wired up for my sleep study. There are a LOT of wired that are attached to your head, arms, upper chest, and legs. Don’t forget a few weird places like under your chin and next to your eye. Those get a little itchy! You also get an upper chest band and an abdomen band that monitors your breathing. I was able to bring my 3 pillows that I use and my own bipap mask because I already use a bipap. There is a dress code for pajamas. Some sleep studies are done in the hospital and some are done in a stand alone building. If you are to have a sleep study and you use oxygen 24/7, be sure to mention that and take a tour of their “bedrooms.” If you are doing a sleep study outside a hospital and you use a high flow of oxygen 24/7, like me, make sure they can accommodate your oxygen needs. I had to bring my splitter so that I can use two oxygen concentrators together; each set at 3LPM to be able to have enough oxygen while doing my sleep study.

Once you are in your sleep study, if you are having trouble breathing or with the mask they gave you to try, speak up. Let the technician know what’s going on. They’ll try to help as much as they can according to the doctor’s orders. Make sure you understand what your doctor wants to try during the sleep study before you have your sleep study. They really want you to be comfortable so that you can sleep as best as you can. Tell them how you sleep in bed. They’ll want you to try to sleep on your back for a while but my tech let me roll over (which was pretty hard to do with all the wires!) onto my stomach to try to fall asleep.

Seriously, I’d love to hear your comments, experience and advice for future sleep study patients. I know that the Bipap or Cpap machines can be a challenge at first to get use to but, once you do, they can help by improving the quality of your life… at least your sleeping life. *wink* My bipap machine has kept me alive for the last 23 years. I’m glad I didn’t give up on mine.

October Means Flu Shots

Living On Oxygen for Life

A little nervous. I have a doctor appointment tomorrow (Monday) and should be getting my flu shot. I’m nervous because last year when I got the Prevnar13 shot (a different Pneumonia shot) it nearly kicked my reared, leaving me feeling sore and wiped out. I told K that I wasn’t ever getting that shot again. He said, “Yes you will.” That shot is what stands between me and a stay in the hospital if I get sick and it progresses into pneumonia. I just hope the flu shot won’t hit me as hard as the Prevnar 13 shot did last year.

The flu shot usually gives my arm & joints achy pain as well an achy body with a mild sore throat and low grade temp (99 degrees) for a day maybe two. But that’s normal for me. It’s natural for your body to respond in such a way, to a degree, when it detects a foreign body. It tries to attack it and then it builds up antibodies to it to prevent future similar infections of that kind.

I hope if you haven’t yet gotten your flu shot and are not the few who have an allergic reaction to its ingredients, please get the flu shot. It can really help if you get a cold. It will help prevent that cold from turning into the flu or even pneumonia.

Here’s some information about Prevnar 13. Click on the picture to enlarge and read. This is the information my doctor gave me last year. You can also search my blog using the search box for a post I did about Prevnar 13.

PCV13