Going the extra mile…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I know I’m a lucky person. I have a husband who loves me and takes care of me in ways that I have no idea that he’s doing it. May 26, 2017 was one of those days.

Last year, K found out that U2 was coming to Dallas, Texas in 2017. It’s rare that they come here and they are one of K’s favorite bands of all time, next to Pink Floyd, of course. So, he asked and then begged and told me how important this concert was to him. He said he’d consider it his birthday AND Christmas present if I’d buy these tickets for him. I’m the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of this family. Anything spent, that’s over $100, should be cleared through the CFO. That’s what happens when you’re living with someone who is disabled and has to go to the doctor often and take expensive medicine.

I knew how much K wanted to go to this concert and I won’t lie to you and say that I was really excited about going to the concert at first. I hadn’t been to a concert in YEARS. I didn’t know if I’d be able to last through a whole concert. I mean, how long do concerts last nowadays? That question was the most important question we faced going into planning for this night of fun. Yes, I bought the tickets. In fact, for the first time ever, I bought a seat for the disabled and a companion seat ticket. We decided to use my wheelchair.

The closer we got to the date of the concert, I started getting more and more excited. I asked my younger sister how long concerts last and she thought about 3 hours. So, we thought 2 liquid oxygen portables would be enough. We didn’t want to leave before the end of the concert. Two portables would give me about 4 hours of time safely. Though, when you least expect it, things don’t always go as planned. Do they?

On the day of the concert, I dressed up in my retro dress. It took me a while to figure out what shoes to wear and how to tie the belt around my dress. I’m not a fashionista. At all.. but K kept saying that I looked beautiful. So, how could I NOT wear a dress? How sweet of him!

We finally departed our house and drove to the DeathStar (the new Cowboys stadium) and there was a lot of traffic. I whipped out my handicap placard once we got close to the stadium. I told K to slow down and I rolled down my window. Well, I just pressed a button and it rolled down on it’s own. I stuck my head out the window and waved my handicap placard (like I knew what I was doing!) to a cop directing traffic. Yeah, I’m not shy AT ALL. The policeman walked up to my van and I asked him directions on handicap parking. That’s right. We were going in style! We ended up paying just a little extra (ok.. a bit more than I was comfortable with) to park at the building (a sidewalk away) in the handicap. It was right up there near Valet parking. A parking attendant poked his head in K’s window to scope the inside of our van. I don’t think I need to tell you what they were looking for with what happened in Manchester, UK a few days prior. There were police dogs walking the crowd and police with automatic rifles. Texas is serious with security. No purses allowed unless it was no larger than 5″x8″ in size. I actually took my PH International Conference name ID badge that I got in June 2016. It held my ticket, driver’s license, credit card, insurance card and my cellphone. It was the perfect size!

We got in the building and had no idea where to go. However, we quickly found out that if you are arriving in a wheelchair, not only do you jump through the line to enter the building quicker than anyone else. You get some incredibly friendly help from the Event Staff. It was nothing short of AMAZING! We only had to say we weren’t sure where to go and the Event Staff person we asked not only told us where we needed to be but also, TOOK us there personally. It was awesome! I was all smiles and “Thank YOUs!” I have to say the handicap seating was excellent. We were fairly close and not a single person was in front of us.

U2 concert 2017!

Now the scary part. As K would say, we “GROSSLY” underestimated the amount of oxygen we needed for the concert. I use 6LPM of oxygen 24/7 and my 2 portables would last roughly just over 4 hours. It was already 7pm which was when the concert was scheduled to start. It didn’t start until almost 8pm and it was the Lumineers, not U2. K and I talked about what we would do. I told him that I could turn my oxygen down to 5LPM if I just sit here in my wheelchair but I’d have to turn it back up to use the restroom or if I started feeling bad. He had left me for a little bit to find out about souvenir concert shirts. At least that was part of what he was doing. I didn’t realize he was going down to the police or the Event Agent at the door to see if he could later exit the building to refill my oxygen. He said no. He couldn’t let him back in he building if he left. Well that sucks! Right? So, he next went to the fire department personnel and explained our situation to him. He asked if they had oxygen with them and they said not to worry. If we have problems to bring me straight to them and they would help. Wow! (yes, they had oxygen!)

K came back to his seat without even telling me he had setup a backup plan in case we needed it. He even packed a picnic to leave in the van for after the concert in case we were hungry. We had a lot of fun, with my oxygen turned down to 5LPM, I was able to watch the whole concert from start to finish. We even stayed a little longer to watch some of the breakdown of the stage. That was cool too. It was just after 11:30pm when we finally got back to my van but all was well and we had a great time. Quite a number of the event staff and a police officer asked if we had a good time. I’d like to think this kind of hospitality happens everywhere but being Texan, I’m kinda biased. *hugs* haha!

Waiting for the U2 concert… Lumineers will be first!

Lots of love to 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.