The air up there

Now comes the hard part – packing! I’ll certainly get that “I’m forgetting something!” feeling, I think we all do. But I don’t have to worry about my oxygen, it’ll be delivered to my hotel!

I normally sleep with an oxygen cannula in my nose. It was originally prescribed because my Hemoglobin was so high that I was having to have a Phlebotomy – a planned, controlled bleeding – once a month. The high Hemoglobin is caused by  my heart defect: since I’m Cyanotic, my body tries to compensate for the lack of oxygen by producing more of the oxygen carrying molecules in my blood. The body has several little tricks it uses to try to compensate for its own failures!

You can get a Phlebotomy done at the local American Red Cross center with no problem, it’s the same procedure as if you were donating blood. But since the Red Cross can’t use your blood (With that high Hemoglobin reading, they have to discard it) you get charged for their services. It’s been at least ten years since I had to have a Phlebotomy, and back then the charge was $50. Who knows what it could cost now!

When I first started the oxygen therapy, I had to spend a night in the hospital wearing the O2 and a Pulse Oximeter to record my blood oxygen levels. That was probably the easiest hospital stay I have ever had! Just sleep with the cannula in my nose and the little clip on my finger, and no worries about someone coming in the next morning and saying “Your tests results are not what we hoped for…”

I asked the doctor how long it would be before he could tell if the oxygen was working – I expected his answer to be a couple of weeks, or perhaps six months – but he said “Eleven minutes.” Your body starts responding to oxygen therapy almost instantly, but when blood leaves the heart, it takes eleven minutes for that same drop of blood to make one complete circuit of the  the body. Cool, I didn’t know that!

So fast forward to a few months ago, when my doctor said it would probably be beneficial for me to have my oxygen while on the Colorado trip. Usually I don’t have to carry it with me; I’ve never had a problem if I go on a trip and miss a couple of nights. But the surrounding air is going to be thinner than I am used to, so he thought it would be a good idea this time.

For a while I thought I was going to have to figure out how to ship a sixty pound Oxygen Concentrator from my home to Boulder! At least the thing is on wheels, so I wouldn’t have to carry it… much! But thankfully my oxygen Supplier, Apria Healthcare, has a program that can match you with a unit if you travel. I have to give a shout out to them; the O2 will be delivered to the hotel by their local office before I get there, and picked up again right after I leave!

Until next time!

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4 Responses to “The air up there”

  1. carolyn compton Says:

    How interesting about the haemoglobin.

  2. Jesse Says:

    I’ve always been curious as to why you are cyanotic, sats in the 80’s … did you never undergo the Fontan?

    Thanks!

    Jesse

  3. Sequal Eclipse Says:

    I love how there are portable oxygen concentrators out there now. They make it so easy to get on the plane now days. With these FAA machines you can travel, and they fit under the seats!!

    • Steve Says:

      I had a regular oxygen concentrator. Since I don’t have to have O2 to fly (thankfully), the concentrator was waiting for me at the hotel! 🙂

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