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.

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Son of a gun and I’ll be dagnabit!!!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Have you ever had something go wrong every time you tried to do one particular thing? I have to say that I’m pretty darn upset and frustrated about it but there is good news… We made it to Oklahoma!!! I’ve been super excited about this trip to see my family. K’s family lives close to us in Texas but mine, well, they live in Oklahoma which means I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like.

So, for my birthday, K decided to take some time off from work to drive me and Rocco to Oklahoma. We had almost made it to our destination when, wouldn’t you know it, another tire (from Firestone!!!) on my van started making the same noise as it did on my solo trip to Oklahoma in May this year. This will make the 3rd brand new Firestone tire to fail on me. The tread is coming off or at least that’s what we think is wrong. K is going to take a closer look at the tire in the morning. I’m just glad K was with me this time.

I was so tired when we got here in Oklahoma. I didn’t want to take my diuretics but knew if I didn’t, I would start to have trouble breathing. My family is really good at going at my speed and letting me decide on what I want to do while I’m here. They know I tire easily and they do whatever is necessary to accommodate my needs. They turn the air conditioner down (shhh…it feels like a meat locker but I can breathe better!) plus, they let K and I come and go as we like. I feel so blessed to have such an understanding family.

I can’t wait until Friday because the whole family is getting together for a combination birthday party for me and one of my parents. It will be so much fun and there will be birthday cake!!! Who doesn’t love birthday cakes?? This year is a special milestone for me and on Friday, I’ll tell you all about it. So, stay tuned in!!

Be well and breathe easier. *hugs*

[2015]

Reality…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I’m not invincible. Though, I like to think I am… *grin* I have weaknesses and I cry. I have bad days that make me feel like I’m dying and I struggle to find the one thing that will show me the goodness of life. A lot of the times it is the memories of fun things I’ve done with my sisters, family or with K. Other times, it is the comments or emails that I receive through this blog or my Facebook page. I take a lot of pictures and turn them into photo books for this reason too.

While in the hospital, earlier this month, my younger sister called me. She was surprised that I was laughing and cheerful and she asked me how I could be that way. I told her that it’s better to laugh about it than to cry. She asked me if I was scared and I said laughing, “Heck yeah I’m scared.”

Even though I have all these medical problems that make me feel bad (a lot!), I don’t want to leave with them a memory of me crying. I’d rather have them think of me as a happy person. Does that make sense to y’all? That doesn’t mean that I never break down and cry. There is only so much stress, bad news, pain, and struggling to breathe I can handle.

It’s ok to cry. It doesn’t mean that you feel sorry for yourself as long as you don’t wallow in it. To me, it’s like a reset button or a relief valve on the mounting stress. So, am I always the happy-go-lucky gal you see? No, because life is hard and filled with challenges. Filled with tests of strength. I’m up for the challenge. It’s just sometimes it gets to be too much.

This month has been exceptionally challenging. Thank you all for being there for me. *hugs*

The Weather Blows…

Living On Oxygen for Life

I get this phone call telling me I have to get up from my nap and go fax something IMPORTANT. Keyword: Important… which means that I HAVE to get up and go. So, I get up and get ready to leave all excited because now I have an excuse to go to Walmart. I mean, hey, if I’m getting out of the house… why not make it to my advantage. Right? I’ve been thinking about crocheting a cotton rug for the kitchen.

I gather all my things like paperwork, purse, oxygen tank (can’t leave home without that!) and my keys. I sit in my van in the garage, a little out of breath, resting a moment. I notice that it’s getting warmer outside because the garage is warm. Pretty good deducing on my part, right? I know, I’m a regular Sherlock Holmes! haha! So, I crank the a/c on in my van and back out of the driveway. Whooo… the sun is bright on this weird gloomy day. I pop on my sunglasses because you know I have extra sensitive eyes when it comes to sunlight. NO! I’m not a vampire! I leave all that blood-sucking to the Lab technicians! It’s thankfully not Labwork day.

I get to where I’m going and notice there are NO close parking places next to the door. That means I have walk which is not my favorite thing when I have to tote my own portable oxygen tank. But, remember, this is IMPORTANT! So, out of the van I go. HOLY SMOKES! It’s really, really humid and I’m huffing and puffing like I’m a dragon or something that huffs and puffs. Not really attractive, I know, but I’ve got to get that air in my lungs somehow. I’ve already got my oxygen up on 6LPM. So depressing.

I get done with the IMPORTANT thing that I HAD to do and now I have to walk back to my van in the hot humid weather outside. Not looking forward to it but I went. I get to my van and decide right there that I just don’t think going to Walmart is going to make my itinerary today. It’s just too difficult for me to breathe. I had great intentions but when it comes to the weather… I’m at its mercy. Hot humid weather kicks my butt every time.

So, now I’m at home finding something constructive and entertaining to do while the weather blows by. There is potential for a storm this evening. My lungs and head feel it before it arrives. No worries, for there is always tomorrow. An adventure awaits me tomorrow.

What to expect… when expecting… (a heart cath!)

This is a post that I originally had posted on my very first blog at Bravejournal.com in 2006. There are those of you who have yet to go through a Right-side Heart Cath and are curious about what to expect. Well, this post is about my first heart cath that I had in Texas. I’ve had numerous heart catherizations when I was a kid but times have changed. Doctors no longer need to put you asleep while you undergo this procedure and you no longer need to stay in the hospital afterwards. I know you are nervous and it does seem a little scary with the fact that you are awake and all. If you are very nervous, you could ask your doctor for medication to take before the procedure to help you remain calm. This is up to your doctor though. You can always ask! Remember, there are NO dumb questions. This is your body and if you have questions, then you have the right to ask them.

*******

I survived and am well recovered from the Heart Cath. It sure took longer than I expected. I had forgotten how much it would take out of me. The last time, before this one, that I had undergone a heart cath was when I was 11 yrs old. That was 25 yrs ago. [Remember, I wrote this in 2006]

For those of you who want to know how the Heart Cath went, here are the details:

I woke up at (an unGodly hour) 5am, took a shower and had the great sense to wear sweats to the hospital. I didn’t realize until after the procedure how glad I was that I wore sweats. We were out the door with my mother at 5:45am. We drove an hour to get to the hospital. [I know… I’m stunned that I was able to get myself out the door within 45 minutes too!] I took my ONE pill of Xanex at 7am. We (my older sister, her husband, my mother, my husband and me) were in the pre-op, recovery room and met the doctor who was going to perform the procedure. I’d never met him before but I did ask about him previously. He’s really nice!! All I know was that other hospital personnel who knew this doctor, told me to ask him about “Duke.” So, I thought about it and thought about it some more. I mean, what is this Duke? Is Duke his dog? Is he the Duke of Earl? I was going on and on with my imagination. Finally, I got my chance to ask him what this Duke business was about when I asked him, “What’s this Duke business about? Is he your dog?” Of course, this gets a laugh because apparently it wasn’t a dog. It is the name of the school he went to. I was like, Oh. I was all excited that it was going to be something adventurous!

The doctor told me that they were not going in at the neck but in at the groin area and they were going to inject 3 doses of Flolan (or it could have been Flovan– can’t remember) during the procedure. Of course, my oxygen had to be removed for the majority of this test. I was thankful for the Xanex because I panic at the thought of being without my oxygen. Yes, people can become mentally dependant on oxygen.

The flolan, when injected each time, made me feel really light headed and short of breath. I felt like I was going to pass out each time. That was no fun. But the staff in the procedure room were GREAT. The guy who watched the monitors who was standing next to my head, joked with me about the bottom monitor being used for karaoke. I was suppose to think of a song so they could put the lyrics up there for me to sing. Silly, I know.

When they were finally done with the test, they pulled the catheter out of my heart & vein and held pressure at the site for a little bit. Unfortunately, they didn’t hold it long enough because I began to bleed again in recovery and now I have a huge bruise that’s hideous! I was told to lay down and lounge around for 4 days. No heavy lifting over 10 pounds.

When I got home, I had shortness of breath and chest pain for two days and a migraine. On the 3rd day, I started feeling better. I got out of bed to lounge on the couch for a change of scenery.

And here I am today.. telling you all about it!

[Since this first heart cath that was done for the approval of Tracleer, I’ve not had my oxygen removed during the remaining heart caths that I’ve had done. And, they now go through my neck. YEA! The only part that hurts a little is the numbing up part. That stuff stings! Don’t let them fool you, it is worse than a bee sting but it numbs up fast. So after the first couple of sticks in your neck, you won’t feel anything after that. I recover faster from heart caths done in the neck but I still have mild problems breathing and my heart aches for a day or so afterwards. I have to take it easy the whole rest of the day and the next day.]

Have a great day! Don’t forget to follow my blog so you won’t miss out on future posts! The Olympics are GREAT!! Aren’t they?

Just no two ways about it..

Living On Oxygen for Life

Correct me if I’m wrong but I think we all hate going to see the doctor. Especially, if we don’t feel so bad. Right? Friday is going to be the day that I make my quarterly appearance at the Pulmonologist office. Yippee! Not! I’m grumbling… I’m sorry. It’s just going to be a very long day and I’m already telling myself… I don’t want to go… I don’t want to go… I REALLY don’t want to go! *sigh*

Friday will start out at an unGodly hour. I’m thankfully NOT going to take my diuretic in the morning. So, that will be a bonus. However, not taking it for the morning will leave me feeling a bit like a water balloon. It’s a gamble.. I know. I’d rather not take it before the doctor appointment than get overly tired before I leave for the appointment and end up having a migraine all the way home. Clear across two towns. It can be a very uncomfortable ride for both K and me. Me, because I feel so bad. K, because I usually am throwing up all the way home. Yeah, in the car. YUCK! Too much information? Sorry! haha!

Ok. So, after arriving in town for this appointment, the first thing to accomplish is to get a CT Scan of my heart and lungs. I have a dilated ascending aorta that they’ve been keeping an eye on. It’s getting closer to the need for surgical intervention. Not cool. I try not to worry about that so much. The doctors tell me to not let my blood pressure get too high. I never thought it was high to begin with. (It’s not!) So, maybe they mean something else? Anyhoo, after the CT Scan, we have to get back in the car and drive to another building for the doctor appointment.

Then after the appointment, I get to do my least favorite thing. Oh wait.. that would be a blood gas draw and I’m not doing that hopefully ever again! I’m talking about the super-duper 6 minute walk! That’s right. For 6 whole minutes, I too will be in the Olympics this year. Just kidding. I do try to imagine something fun while I’m walking. Though, K walks with me up and down the hall dragging the bottled oxygen the hospital supplies me for while I’m there so I don’t run out of my own. K’s pretty entertaining to walk with. He matches my rate of walking and talks to me while I huff and puff. I’m not suppose to talk during the walk. It can skew the results.

When I started going to this pulmonary doctor in 2006, they had me start the 6-minute walk with no oxygen. That was not cool. They of course noticed that I needed oxygen. So they stopped me and put me on oxygen at a low level and kept checking the pulse oximeter monitor. They would adjust the oxygen as needed and make notes of my results each time I had to walk. I only have to do the 6-minute walk now every 4 to 8 months. I try to talk them out of making me do it though. I know.. I’m so bad. *wink*

I try to have a reward in mind for after the doctor appointment. It gives me something good to look forward to. Normally, it’s just lunch out with K or we’ll stop for ice cream. I love ice cream. Sometimes, K will just surprise me. Wish me luck!!

I hope you will FOLLOW my blog to learn more about Living On Oxygen for Life. Don’t forget about the NEED A HUG? giveaway. You can enter for your chance of a lapghan or afghan that I personally crochet. Please read the Need a Hug? post for instructions on how to enter.

A Duracell battery can tell you so much…

Living on Oxygen for Life

One day when I was about 6 or 7 years old, I was lying on the carpet of my parent’s family room watching television. A commercial came on and it was for the Duracell battery. Back then I was really into commercial jingles. I pretty much knew them all and sang along with the commercials. You remember the “Ding, ding, DONG!” of the Duracell ad, right? The coppertop battery! Well, it was on this day that this commercial came on that, for some reason, I had placed my hand over my left ear during the “ding, ding, dong” part (well it was SO loud, wasn’t it?). I made a huge discovery. My right ear didn’t work so well. I tested my left ear and it worked just fine. So like I said, I’m only 6 or 7 years old – making this discovery on my own – and I’m about to let my mom know my big news!

I’m telling my mom the big news and she’s like wearing this facial expression that’s hard to describe. It reminds me of the Seinfeld tv show when the phrase, “Serenity Now!” was popular. I’m her child and she’s been through so much with me. There was the tube feeding from one month old when she finally was able to bring me home from the hospital, my first spine fusion with the halo traction, and all those doctor appointments in between the heart catherizations. Now, it was my ear?? That was something unexpected. So, it was another round of doctor appointments and a surgery that fixed nothing. Now, I’m without hearing in my right ear.

It’s funny though because my sisters grew up with me like this and they still forget that they have to walk on the left side of me so that I can hear what they are saying. I’ve had many challenges in my life but this one makes me laugh every time I think about the Duracell battery commercial.

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