Understanding my ABG…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I have no problem with letting you know the results of most of my medical tests. I’ve always been an open person. I feel that it is how people learn things that may relate to them or who may be too afraid to ask. So, by talking about my test results, it’s my way of helping those who are not only curious but confused.

Understanding ABGs (Arterial Blood Gas) results are confusing because the body is a complex thing. As always, if you are confused about what your ABG means, ask your doctor. Let me remind you again what my results are:

Here is my ABG results:
ph – 7.37 range: 7.35-7.45
PCO2- 65.9 range: 34-45 mmHg
PO2- 118 range: 92-100 mmHg
HCO3- 38.2 range: 22-26 MMOL/L
O2sat- 98% range: 94-100%
Total CO2 calc ABG- 40 range:19-24 MMOL/L

The HCO3 is the bicarbonate and mine is high. Because the CO2 is high, which is the Carbon Dioxide. My lungs can not exhale enough CO2 because they are becoming stiffer over time (not so elastic). They are small due to scoliosis which has deformed my ribs to the point it reduces the room for my lungs to expand. Hence the reason why I have Pulmonary Hypertension. My lungs are small, stiff, and have a difficult time exchanging the carbon dioxide with oxygen that it needs to keep my body moving. This is why my CO2 is so high. My carbon dioxide is high because my lungs can not make that necessary exchange making my breathing problem a mechanical one.

My heart works hard to make up for the demand of oxygen that my body needs. It senses that it needs to pump more blood into my lungs to get those gases exchanged which also causes the pulmonary hypertension. My heart can not keep up the demand of my body. What you see as the pH is a good thing. Because the HCO3 is so high it balances out the CO2 to make my pH within the normal range. Had the the pH been low with the results of the CO2 and HCO3, I would be in trouble from what I understand.

What this all means is my breathing problems are mechanical. Because of my scoliosis and the rib deformity, my lungs over time can not do the job they are meant to do, especially while exerting myself. I know in my heart that this is sad but I still find whatever positive I can from these results. I see that the pH is normal which means my one and only kidney (since birth) is holding up and doing its job. YEA! I see that the PO2 is lower than the last ABGs results of 212mmHg. 212mmHg is bad because that can trigger the brain to retain too much CO2. So, yes, there are a few positive things from this test and that’s how I choose to look at it. It would be easy to sink down into depression thinking that my life and my health is getting worse. But why do that? Why waste that energy when I’m still here and still able to have fun? Yes, I’m a little slower and yes, I need to use the wheelchair quite a bit more. But using that wheelchair gets me out the door. So… I have to use more oxygen. So what! Right? I’m here.. talking to you.. my friends.

What is my goal? It is always to try to maintain my health and keep it stable. It’s to keep myself out of the hospital. It means that I rest when I need to rest, use my oxygen (which I always do!) and take my medicine. The most important thing to do is to keep myself away from sick people.

Don’t forget to email me to enter the giveaway. I put a Need a Hug? menu button at the top of my blog to make it easier to know the giveaway deadlines and to see the current lapghan/afghan that is being given away. This giveaway is open to everyone.. even international (outside the US).

How long will I survive when I’m dependent on oxygen?

Living On Oxygen for Life

This is a common question that I see when people find my blog. It’s an honest question that we all want to know the answer to. Unfortunately, unless you are psychic (which I’m not), we just won’t know what that answer will be. With that being said, how long you will live really depends on a few things. Living longer means wearing your oxygen as prescribed, taking your medicine as prescribed, staying active but rest when your body says you need a break, and be smart about taking care of yourself. Don’t expose yourself to people who are sick, eat right, and never give up the fight to live a quality life you deserve. Make this a goal.

I’ve used oxygen for the past 27 years. It’s started out at night time use only when I slept. Now it’s 24/7. It is worth it to fight hard for living longer. By fighting hard, what I mean is to keep a positive attitude. Somedays it will be harder than others. Sometimes you may just want to crawl into your bed and just throw the covers over your head. Crawling in bed or having a bad day or having a lazy day is ok as long as you remember that this is temporary and that you are not going to cave in… or just give up. Because, once you give up, your health declines.

Having a someone close to you who you can turn to when those down days occur and you need a pep talk is a fabulous thing to have. For me, I have my older sister and my husband.

Make everyday one step forward by being aware of how much you love life.