When unexpected things happen…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I know… I know… It’s been since January of this year since I added a post to my blog. SOoooo much has happened since then. K had surgery on his eyes…. AGAIN, and his momma passed away which had hit us HARD to name a few. I even started a new heart medicine. It’s been a year full of challenges so far but we are taking each challenge head on. Battling them like you would expect us to do. Go team!

Yesterday, (Tuesday) brought us a new challenge or should I say frustration. K and I had a doctor appointment in Dallas that had us getting up at 5:45 IN THE MORNiNG.. Yeah, I know.. Me getting up that early is unheard of. I kid you not. I tend to get insomnia a lot, especially when I have somewhere important to go the next day. So, I don’t get much sleep the night before I have to wake up. K is always telling me, “Go to sleep Chris.” Ugh! I wish I could.

Well, I got up on time. I know, I’m very impressed with myself. I’m even ready to leave on time. WHAT???? Yeah… I’m shocked too. K filled both of my liquid portables for me AND took care of our dogs and cat for me. Awww. I know, right? He’s soooo sweet.

In my van, I have a 75lb liquid oxygen reservoir which was filled on the day before at 1:30pm (Monday) and K went out to the garage to strap the tank in. He also took one of my liquid portables out to my van so I’m only having to carry one portable when I’m ready to leave. He’s thoughtful like that. Well, he came back inside and told me my van reservoir was bone dry. He even led me out to the garage and pulled it out of my van with one hand. I was SO mad. Even though I have 2 portable that would last me 4 1/2 hours on 6LPM which is 2LPM less than my normal 8LPM I usually need, we can not risk driving all the way to Dallas with no backup, my reservoir, which I totally depend on. That means K & I had to cancel my appointment and I just hate doing that.

The inconvenient part of this story is that I called my oxygen provider and told them what happened. They were extremely nice about everything. They agreed with me that the reservoir should not have bled dry within 18 hours of being filled, even if the thing was turned on, which it was (on 6LPM) by no fault of ours. They told me they would bring me a replacement today (Tuesday) because I told them that I missed a doctor appointment this morning in Dallas. They even apologized but they didn’t show up today and I ended up waiting ALL day for them and I was exhausted even with getting a short nap while K waited for the phone call that they were support to make to let us know they were on their way.

So that was my Tuesday. They better show up tomorrow (Wednesday). Grrr…. =o) I just hope I don’t have to wait around all day again. You can count on me calling them first thing in the morning. Being on oxygen 24/7 and not able to function without it makes it a really scary to have things break on me. Thankfully, K is usually with me when we leave the house.

My next post will be good news! YAY! I hope everyone is having a great Summer. It’s scorching hot here (99 – 100 degrees this week) and I’ll be indoors a lot! Have a great day!!!! OH! And Willow, my puppy is just ADORABLE and I love her!! (and Rocco too!)

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!!!

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

IMG_6738

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

Day Three — Tikosyn & the following month

Living On Oxygen for Life

By now, you probably realize that I went home with a seven day supply of Tikosyn. Hooray and Lucky Me! I get to be on another high-dollar Specialty medication that THANKFULLY my health insurance will cover. I’m kneeling down and thanking Jesus right now….and…. *amen!*

Getting Tikosyn from a pharmacy was a pain in the rear end because it is a Specialty medicine and it must go through the “specialty” mail order pharmacy which is different than the regular mail order pharmacy. I could have gotten my first month’s supply of Tikosyn through a regular pharmacy like a CVS or Walgreen’s but I would’ve had to pay $600 for the 30-day supply. Yeah, right. I don’t think so. I’ll do the little extra leg-work to get the prescription faxed to my “specialty pharmacy” myself. That’s what I did. I got the correct fax number, stopped off at a CVS, explained what I needed them to do (showed them my notes I took while on the phone with the specialty pharmacy while in my hospital room), and off the fax went into cyberspace to hopefully not get lost on the way. I called numerous times everyday until they could verify that they received it but it had one tiny problem on the prescription. There was no pill count on it, making it impossible for the pharmacy to process it. Now I had to somehow get the doctor’s staff on the phone with the pharmacy (each saying that the OTHER needs to call them first). OH! You’ve heard of that game too? Grrr… I finally got the pharmacy to put me on hold to dial the doctor’s number to correct the prescription. Finally, that’s taken care of which was great because I wasn’t going to go back into the hospital for 3 more days because they couldn’t iron this problem out in time. I had to have my 30-day supply within 7 days or it’s back in the hospital for me to restart Tikosyn.

Tikosyn is NOT a medicine that a person can take just whatever time she or he remembers to take it. Oh no! This stuff, I actually have to set my alarm clock on my cellphone at the same times everyday, twelve hours apart. Granted when I left the hospital, they had my doses at 4am and 4pm. If you know me like I think you should by now (okay… I’ll cut the newest readers a break.. Here’s your chance to learn something new about me. *cheesy grin*), I am a night person. I don’t like waking early in the morning because that’s when I get my best sleep. Makes sense to me too! So, over the first week and a half at home, I slowly bumped the night time medicine time an hour later every few days and adjusted the morning time accordingly. By the end of two weeks, my medication time was 7am and 7pm. That’s a bit more achievable for me.

Now that I’m good and into taking Tikosyn, I’ve noticed that my blood pressure is back to normal but I have increased shortness of breath which is very noticeable. I’m getting very discouraged because I went today to the Cardiologist who prescribed Tikosyn. He ran an EKG and said it was normal and that my shortness of breath isn’t from the heart medicine. If I got paid for every time I heard THAT sentence…well, I could buy myself a whole lot of ice cream with the money! Ugh! I just realized I’m out of ice cream too! I should have stopped on the way home. Drats!!!

My cardiologist said for me to talk to my PH doctor. Sometimes, I feel like I’m on a Merri-Go-Round without all the pretty horses to ride. Or is that a Carousel? At least I still have things to look forward to in life. It looks like Klondike, my rubber chicken will be off on another adventure next week and next month I will attend the PH International Conference. I’m super excited about both. My next post will be about Klondike’s adventure! Stay tuned in!

Be well! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss anything exciting!

A new PH medicine to be added..

Living Oxygen for Life

Well, I’m pretty nervous because I’m going to subject myself to trying another Pulmonary Hypertension medication that’s fairly new. It’s called Adempas. It will be added to the PH medicine that I’m already taking, Tracleer.

It’s so complicated, with all of my health problems, to treat Pulmonary Hypertension. With each PH medicine I try (with the exception to Tracleer at half dose), my body isn’t able to tolerate them because of my scoliosis that created my Restrictive Lung Disease problem.

What’s suppose to help one of my problems creates terrible results for my other problems. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for K to watch me go through this and not be able to do anything to help make trying new medicines any easier. Spouses go through so much along with the patients. It’s just as heart wrenching and maddening as being the one trying a new medicine, unsure if this is the one to either make me feel me feel better or make me feel so much worse. There is no cure. We can only hope to slow its progression until a cure is found.

So, here I am after my Pulmonary Hypertension doctor appointment today, waiting to hear if the specialty medication application was approved which will probably be some time next week. Then, I’ll find out how much more this will cost me or if I will qualify for Co-Pay assistance. PH medicine does not come cheaply and can only be dispensed from a “Specialty” Pharmcy. Thankfully, my PH doctor has agreed for me to be titrated up on this medicine slower than normal. We’re hoping by going a little slower, I may be able to tolerate this medicine a little more smoothly.

Meanwhile, it’s raining like crazy here. The air is holding on to all that moisture as long as it can to make me suffer, I’m sure! haha! Not to worry! I have ice cream in the freezer. It helps me to survive anything. Probably even a Zombie Apocalypse too! You never know! Don’t doubt the power of ice cream!!! Mwahahaha!

Be well everyone! Have fun with the Trick-or-Treaters. May you actually have “little” kids show up at your door this year. Be safe.

Remember that November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness month.

May Update 2015

Living On Oxygen for Life

You may have heard of all the rain Texas has been getting over, what seems like, the longest month of May in history. Even my garden plants have developed a fungus on the leaves. I’m hoping I can salvage the vegetable garden I’ve put a lot of work on.

It’s been extremely humid here and that has taken a huge toll on my breathing and energy level… not to mention triggering a number of migraines. When I get this way, I tend to get in a funk. I hate funks! So, if you’ve noticed me being pretty quiet on my blog lately, that’s why. I was getting a bit of the funk. Even the kitchen reno has taken a pause. Yikes! That’s scary!

But slowly I’m coming back around… that fun, personable, groovy self that you all know and look forward to hearing from, right? haha!

On May 22, 2015, I had my Pulmonary Hypertension appointment where I was hoodwinked into doing a 6 – minute walk. Darn those doctors!!!! I have no idea how far I walked. I forgot to ask. I walked with 6 LPM of oxygen and still felt really winded. Oh well.. better luck next time, right? I don’t pay much attention to the results anyway. They are way too easy to skew the results. hehe! Even K thinks so. We had a fun discussion about that.

After the PH appointment, I had my CT Scan on my heart. It was to measure my ascending aorta (my aorta aneurysm — it sounds more dramatic saying aorta aneurysm!). My Cardiologist measured it with a Echocardiogram at 5.1cm late last month, which TOTALLY freaked me out. At 5.5cm, he would order a stint. But, he wanted the CT done because my heart is positioned in a way that it’s difficult to measure.

I have to tell you that I was pretty stressed over it. I wanted to know the size of it, right NOW! Luckily, with a bunch of people thinking about and praying for me, all has ended much better that I could hope for. Thank you so so so much, y’all! Much love to you! The CT Scan came back with the measurement of 4.3cm which is significantly lower but still considered dilated. My Cardiologist will continue to monitor it annually or semi-annually. It’s just so weird because I don’t have a reason for this aneurysm to happen.

I did get to go to Oklahoma to see my niece in her first ever dance recital and on the way (I drove alone!), I nearly had ANOTHER blowout with a tire that looked almost brand new. I had to pull off the highway because my van was making a really weird noise. When I looked, I couldn’t see the missing tread because it must have been on the bottom of the tire. That’s got to be Murphy’s Law! Thankfully, I was very close to my sister’s house and my brother-in-law handled it from there. This is a prime example of why we have AAA.com.

May has been a very trying time interspersed with a bit of joy. Just when we thought everything was going well in the beginning of the month, our heat pump (a/c) died and we had to get it replaced. That was NO FUN! But I did set up a donation GoFundMe account so that I can continue to create and send FREE of all charges crocheted afghans and lapghans to those who have breathing problems. This project has been so important to me. I recently sent out an afghan this month and will be sending out a few more within the next couple of weeks. It really keeps me busy and makes me feel happy to spread joy and comfort to those who need a hug and reminded that we all care about what they are going through. I want them to know that they’re not alone. So check out the Need a Hug tab above to see how you can qualify to receive a special made afghan/lapghan. Or, if you can spread the word about donating to this great cause, please do! www.gofundme.com/HelpNeedaHug. I keep this page updated as much as possible.

Have a great day everyone!

Health update… with pictures!

Living On Oxygen for Life

There are so many things to talk about but this time I’m going to concentrate on the doctor appointment I had yesterday with my Endocrinologist. One thing I want to bring up that makes me frustrated about the “New” computerized digital medical records system vs. paper records, is that it seems like most doctors do not take time to review a patients records (i.e.: lab results that have come in recently or any paper questionnaire that we fill out prior to making it back into the patient room) before they open the door to the patient room. I’m not even sure the doctor read the questionnaire, because she just asked me to tell her what’s been going on since the last appointment. I actually had to tell the Endocrinologist that, yes, I did my labs like you requested a few weeks ago and they SHOULD already be faxed to her for to have ALREADY been reviewed. She had to leave the room and ask to see if they had been faxed from the lab. Guess what? They were waiting for her.

Ok, I’m feeling a little disgruntled. It’s just that when the doctor left the room, K and I looked at each other and both did the “eye roll” and we knew we were both thinking…“Here we go again..” Surely you’ve been there before, right? =oP Alright… the doctor walks in with the results and you can see below what they were. Just click on the picture if you can’t read it.

TSH March 2015

I had to correct her about how many milligrams of Methimazole a day that I was taking and explained that she had decreased my dosage last month. She looked in the computer to see that, yes, I was right. She asked me how I was feeling. I told her I felt better since the decrease. In fact, I told her a big no-no that I did. (I had to confess and I’m glad that I did) You see, after the TSH labs that I did nearly 2 weeks ago, I decreased my dose again without her authorization. Shame on me… I know! Instead of 10mg a day, I started taking 10mg every other day. So, it was really 5mg everyday. She was ok with that, which totally surprised me. I told her that on the days that I was not taking the medicine, I felt a little more energetic. I DO NOT RECOMMEND TO ANYONE TO DO WHAT I AM DOING! Since my TSH has shown a pattern of going up instead of being low as in Hyperthyroid, taking less Methimazole was only logical to me. Now she wants me to take only 5mg every other day, have labs done in 7 weeks, and then again in 4 months. I’m hoping before 4 months, I can totally be off the medicine which is the goal.

Unfortuately, it takes the thyroid a long time to become balanced. That’s why my doctor is going slowly with decreasing my medicine. Ok, enough about the doctor appointment! Let’s get into the fun stuff. After the appointment we decided to go to the Dallas Arboretum since the tulips where in bloom. How can ANYONE pass up looking at tulips. They are gorgeous! I will post some gorgeous pictures that K and I took from the arboretum, hopefully tomorrow… or later today. I have to go through all of them. I took about 265 pictures! Here’s a few to get you started…

Dallas Arboretum March 2015

Dallas Arboretum
March 2015

Christine at the Dallas Arboretum March 2015

Christine at the Dallas Arboretum
March 2015

I hope everyone has a great week! Stay in touch by finding me in Instagram, Facebook, or just email me! All those links are on the right side of your screen.

P.S. Keep on the look out for a video that I will post about oxygen concentrator filters and my hobby updates! Way cool stuff! Coming soon!

[April 2015]

Random Picture Day #13

Living On Oxygen for Life

Hello everyone! Wow… time sure does fly quickly. Doesn’t it? Well, I guess it seems kind of slow if you are snowed under. I hope you have sunshine by now. It’s starting to peek out more and more here in Texas. It is amazing how much a little bit of sunshine can change a person’s mood… from rainy-gloomy-cabin-fever blues to rip-the-doors-off-the-house-and-let-me-at-the-glorious-sunshine happiness. This Winter has been a heck of a roller coaster. So, I guess Spring has sprung and all that sweet sunshine has brought our daffodils up and blooming. That is until someone came by and cut and stole them from our front lawn. K was crushed. All that work and now it’s like he has nothing to show for it. The thing is.. he told me that he would have been happy to give them to whomever wanted a few if he’d just ask for them. K would have felt like someone sweet, other than me… of course *wink*, was going to enjoy them and appreciate his effort. But no… someone stole them. I’m a little worried about the tulips that are starting to come up. As you know, daffodils and tulips, make their appearance once a year in the Spring and they are beautiful. Majestic, really, which makes our next outing plans super exciting. It’s a wheelchair adventure with my new camera I got for Christmas! Thank you Santa!

We are going to a place that is GLORIOUSLY filled with tulips, daffodils, and so many more types of flowers. The last time we went to appreciate the flowers was about 5 years ago. Here’s two pictures that I took there.

tulips

cottage

Taking pictures with my Nikon dslr 5200 camera is something I LOVE doing. It’s something that is easy to do while having to use oxygen. It doesn’t take a lot of energy unless I am having to move about a room like at a wedding reception. I like taking candid, spontaneous pictures of people in the moment instead of posed people in a group picture. But nature, by far, is my favorite to photograph. K has really developed an eye for photography. Sometimes my hands are too shaky because I get tired or my oxygen saturation drops and that gets me frustrated because pictures can blur. So, K will drag the tripod around with us if I end up needing it, we’ll have it handy.

So, what am I really like? You read my blog. Do you wonder… what is she really like in person? Here’s a bit of a weird bio.. I’ll try to add a little bio each time I remember!:

  • I have to say that I am pretty goofy.
  • I’m afraid to tell you that I can be a bit cranky or fussy when I’m tired but who isn’t, right?
  • I read a LOT! I should list the books I’m currently reading or at least, the books I’ve read that I think are good. I get most of my books through Amazon and read them on my Kindle app on my cellphone. Did you know that they have a boat load of free books? Just use the filter to look at the LOWEST cost books first. (you’re welcome for that tip!).. Thank you Thomas K., my Scottish friend! *wink*
  • I’ll only eat spinach in a salad. I love it raw/uncooked!
  • I’ve never been to college but I’ve been to a trade school. (Travel Academy)
  • Daisies are my favorite flowers. There’s something about them with their simple, innocent look.
  • I love my wheelchair and it’s driver (aka: my husband)
  • I believe in training a dog with the reward system versus punishment system.
  • To motivate myself in getting things done that I really DON’T want to do is by rewards (no I’m not a dog! *wink*). Those rewards can be ice cream, ice cream, and maybe some more ice cream.. but if I’m out of the ice cream (watch out!) then I’ll take whatever it takes to make me smile and moving with a pep in my step.

 

Now finally, here’s the part you are waiting for… Ready? My health update… YAY!!!: I did some lab work last week because my Endocrinologist asked me to. Instead of my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) being too low, it’s flipped out and gone the other way. Needless to say, since I switched back to Tracleer (bosentan) from Opsumit (macitentan) and started taking Methimazole, it has worked especially well. Unfortunately, it worked too well and I have had to cut back on the Methimazole two weeks ago. I’m thinking that I’ll be off the medicine all together after my next Endocrine appointment at the end of this month. The weird thing is… I asked my Pulmonary Hypertension doctor if they have heard of any other PH patients on Opsumit having the same TSH problems. She said no. That’s why they keep telling me that they think it’s my Cordarone (Amiodarone). Though, Amiodarone, is not a good medicine to be on, it’s the one medicine that I could tolerate when my heart started it’s arrhythmia problems back in 1993. I’ll be going to see my Cardiologist for an Echo and to discuss this more and maybe see what else is out there that can replace Amiodarone. I mean it’s been 20 years. Surely, something better and MUCH more expensive is available by now. Though, Tikosyn was recommended to me as my first option last April but I’m not too thrilled with it. I don’t have A-fib and I’m not ready to subject myself to a new medicine that I’m not at least 75% sure that it’s something that will do more good than harm. I’m just not one of those patients that blindly go where doctors lead me. I read up on everything they suggest.

Stay in touch because I love to hear from you. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram or email: goredrider@gmail.com *HUGS* to you all!

Health Update..

Living on Oxygen for Life

Hello! I hope you read my last blog post and realized this is my health update. What’s crazy is that it seems like it’s been so long since I blogged last. What’s wrong with me??? My motivation has tanked badly but never fear. I am STILL here! I post on Facebook and Instagram. So, you can get a glimpse of my life that way. In fact, if you don’t have Facebook or Instagram, you can come to my blog and on the lower right side column you can see what I post in those two apps. I try to make it accommodating for those who do not wish to have FB or Instagram. I don’t want you to feel excluded. I love you all! haha! *hugs*

Ok Ok! I’ll get started already on my health update. Where should I begin? You probably already know that since August of this year, I have magically become Hyperthyroid. Don’t ask me how, because no one… I mean NO ONE knows for sure. One doctor says it’s from my heart medicine, the others think it could be hereditary through my father’s side. If it was caused by my heart medicine (Cordarone), I should be Hypothyroid which I am not. Before taking Opsumit, my TSH was teetering on the “Hypo” side and WHAM-O I’m Hyperthyroid. Confused yet? Yeah, join the club. *sigh*

So, for the last few months, I’ve been taking thyroid medicine. Cause you know that I love having to take just ONE MORE PILL! Oh wait, I take 3 of those pills a day. Ok Ok… 3 MORE PILLS a day! I had my annual physical last month and was thinking, hey the doctor can get all my thyroid blood tests done and all the other labs done all in one stick. Unfortunately, he only ordered the TSH and not the T3 and T4 labs. That’s what I get for assuming and not double checking with the doctor. I had to rush over to the lab again to get restabbed. Always a joy! *wink*

Needless to say, it took a crazy long time to get the lab results back for my thyroid. The T3 and T4 are finally within normal range. Hallelujah!! However, the TSH is still pretty low at .02. The Endocrinologist said it will take time to get my TSH back to where it belongs but she is hopeful that I will not have to be on a steroid medication. I am avoiding that. I don’t do well on oral steroids. It makes me swell up and retain water. I only do well on IV steroids. So, my doctor was REALLY hoping that my thyroid would respond to Methimazole (Tapazole) and because it’s responding, I’m to continue with the medication. Labs every two months and an appointment back with her in 4 months. She reminded me to call the pulmanologist if I have a fever and start feeling like I’m coming down with something (sore throat) so that I can have my white blood cells checked. Methimazole can affect the White Blood Count and leave you vulnerable to infections. Hooray!! This was especially nice to hear after the fact that I had a terribly sore throat last week. Since I’m always on top of these things, you can bet my phone was dialing my primary doctor before I even could say, “I better call my doctor for antibiotics!”

Now, you are probably wondering if this is overuse of antibiotics. For me? No way. I rarely have need of them because I’m very careful about my health and being around others who may be sick. In fact, I think I’ve only needed antibiotic about once a year and that’s precautionary. My lung volume is so low that I can’t wait long to see if I will recover from a sore throat. Why risk it? In the past, I’ve gone from sore throat to pneumonia overnight. Ask my mom, she’ll tell you. So not fun.

Now that I’ve been off Opsumit for two months, my breathing is no longer so labored when I do chores. That’s not to say that I don’t have shortness of breath while I vacuum a room. That’s a given but at least I’m not bent over gasping for air either. Thank you Jesus! I am definitely happier for that bit of mercy. I think some of this happiness comes from the oasis my husband had built for me. Our back patio is now where I can come outside and sit down to enjoy some outdoor peace. I will have to show you some pictures of it on my next Random Picture Day which will be soon.

Be well everyone! Take care of yourself. I hope you have a great Halloween! You can always reach me through my email at: goredrider@gmail.com

The evil that I know… Tracleer!

Living On Oxygen for Life

I bet you were wondering what happened to me? Well, you know I had that doctor appointment with the Pulmonary Hypertension doctor, right? That was on September 5th. I wrote the September 5th blog post before I went to see the doctor. Did you know that the pediatric dosage weight limit for Tracleer is at 40kg? My doctor didn’t even see a pediatric dosing weight for Opsumit. You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this, right? Well, it’s because I only weigh 98lbs which converted to Kilograms turns out to be nearly 45kg. So I’m pretty close to 40kg.

The whole time I’ve been on Tracleer, K and I have told my PH doctor that during the first month of taking Tracleer, I did and felt really great. Tracleer is started on half dose… IE: 62.5mg twice a day for a month. After the first month, the dosage goes up to 125mg twice a day. When I went up to full dose and after a few months, I started to feel bad. I lost endurance and my shortness of breath became worse over time. I even lost interest in a lot of things. Opsumit was much worse for me and I ended up in the hospital (August 5th of this year). I know, it’s crazy! Why aren’t the doctors listening to me and K?

Finally, during and after the hospital stay in August, K and I were at our limits with the whole PH medication thing. I actually told the hospital PH doctor (the partner to my doctor) that… “With me and the way my body reacts to certain medications, you have to start thinking outside the box to treat me.” I told her, “I want to be a part of the decision making for the treatment care to my body.” Not that I felt that I wasn’t on the team but I just wanted to remind them that I’m not stupid or gullible or even a non-active participant in this whole hospital situation. Shoot, I was on a roll! I told her that I wanted off of Opsumit and back on Tracleer. Heck, it was the evil that I knew.

So, at the doctor appointment on September 5th, we saw my PH doctor. K and I laid it all out there about how very frustrated we were. I think we finally got her to see the light. I do not have primary pulmonary hypertension. My pulmonary hypertension is something that I was born with and is due to malformation of my ribs that decrease my lung volume and due to the heart problems that I was also born with. They tried a lot of PH medication to treat the Pulmonary Hypertension and Tracleer does bring my PH pressures down but it costs me my breathing ability and the quality of life I would like to have. I didn’t start having my Pulmonary Hypertension treated until year 2006.

I bet you’re thinking: Now what? Right? Well don’t fret, y’all! We got a plan. It’s pretty shady but I finally got the doctor to agree to let me try it. The doctor, K and I all agreed that I could either come off of PH medicines all together or take Tracleer at half dose for the next 3 months and then do a heart cath in December. The way I see it is that however much the medicine brings down the pressure, if it’s bringing it down, it’s still considered HELPING whether at full or half dose. Of course, it could just not work at all like the PH doctors think will happen because according to all the clinical trials, Tracleer doesn’t work at half dose. I wonder how many lightweight people they did the Tracleer clinical trial on. I can’t even take long-acting type of medicine for this reason.

I’m thankful I still have a whole bottle of Tracleer leftover from switching to Opsumit. That way the doctor doesn’t have to do the paperwork yet for Tracleer full dose.. just for the half dose. It’s a little complicated. Technically, I’m not suppose to break the 125mg pill in half myself. The doctor said it shouldn’t be done. K and I looked at each other in the office and rolled our eyes. I’m breaking my own darn pills! Why get MORE Tracleer when I have pills I can break in half?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Summer! You know what season it is, right? It’s FLU SHOT season! Get yours this month! I’m getting mine early next month at my doctor appointment for my annual physical. I’m still battling to get my thyroid under control but I have hope that since I’m back on Tracleer…all will be well again!

Stay well! FOLLOW my blog!!! Lots of love to you all!