Monday, February 4, 2013
Oxygen Tank Tango!!
Before I went to the wellness center I was getting weaker and more depressed. I went to a sleep center and had all the tests and found out that I had sleep apnea. I was instructed on how to use a VPAP. It is a machine just like the CPAP but it forces puffs of air into your lungs at a regular rhythm. Meaning I was not breathing on my own much. I was told that I should never ever sleep with out the machine not even for a short nap. I did not know how bad I was until that same day the man came to set up my machine and told me that I was also to be on Oxygen during sleep and most the time during the day. He then gave me a long tube that would reach through my house and still reach the concentrator that would deliver the oxygen. I was given little portable tanks to put on a little cart and wheel with me when I went out and some emergency cylinders for if the power went out. I would walk through my house dragging my new hose along and would constantly get tangled. I was struggling to wear the mask at night and the rubber seal that goes around your mouth and nose would irritate the bridge of my nose. I would put tape or bandages on the sore parts then they would tear off my skin when I removed them. I tried multiple masks until I did find something that worked. People would say it was the best thing they ever found when they finally got use to their machine and would get great sleep..I would just look at them and think. REALLY???? Not long after I started using this "new friend" my family decided we should still go on our annual camping trip to the cabin in Bear Valley. Well, I had a little problem. At one time we considered taking a generator and concentrator and running it all night for the VPAP and O2. I knew no one would sleep with both the generator and concentrator running. I then decided to go without the VPAP for the night and only take O2 in the cylinders. The cylinders would supply me for 4-5 hours so would have to get up in the night to change that. We have a cabin that we usually save for the grands to sleep in because it is much, much warmer and we can fire up the stove to help keep them warm. So my husband and I were out in a tent with me tucked in next to my oxygen tank which had it own sleeping bag to keep it warm..... About 2 A.M. after not sleeping because I was worried about running out of O2 and worrying I would stop breathing in my sleep it came time to change that tank. Bear Valley is well known for how COLD it gets after the sun goes down. We were trying to change that tank being very quiet to not wake the others in tents around us and freezing our butts off. The flash light was not doing a great job of lighting up what we needed to see. I was crying hard at causing such a problem. We woke everyone up with our struggles. Lets just say it is a night I nor my husband will ever forget. It was that next summer after I was able to get off the narcotic medications that I asked for another sleep study. My sleep specialist said he had never seen nor heard of such improvement in a person as sick as I was. He acknowledged that narcotics can cause breathing problems but was very surprised at the improvement I had made. Off the O2 at that time and the VPAP was changed to a CPAP with very low pressure for assistance. Then I began to get very serious about healthy eating and exercise and now I do not even need the CPAP. I look back at some of these things and wonder how I lived through it. I am so glad that I listened to that little whispering in my head that would say, "what if it is the pain medication? what if?" I should not be here and I am grateful for everyday that I have and for the many many people who have helped me battle back from the edge of death.