Posts Tagged ‘Oxygen’

We’re moving on up!

May 5, 2009

Here’s an interesting research topic: A team of climbers and scientists climbed Mount Everest, and on the way up (and back down) they took Arterial Blood Gas readings from each other. As you may know, Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, is 29,029 feet above sea level. That’s about five and a half miles up!

As they climbed and the air became thinner, the Partial Pressure of Oxygen readings in the sample dropped. However, the amount of Hemoglobin in the blood increased – our bodies can compensate to take care of itself! The readings showed that the extra hemoglobin was able to keep the body thinking that it was functioning at lower altitudes until the climbers reached 23,300 feet. After than, the air was too thin for the extra Hemoglobin to help.

When the group from Denver came to Philadelphia for the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) convention last year, they found out that this theory was true. Living in a city more than one mile above sea level had caused them to develop extra Hemoglobin molecules in their blood – not much, and certainly not outside of the acceptable ranges – but it was there. And when a couple of them decided to work out, they nearly ran the wheels off of the Fitness Center’s treadmills! The thicker air and that extra hemoglobin combined to give them an energy boost.

When I go to Boulder – which is a little higher than Denver – I fear that it is going to work in reverse for me. My blood oxygen is already at 80%, at rest, moving up in altitude will cause it to drop. That is one of the main reasons I’m not participating in the Bolder Boulder: I’m not used to the altitude, and I won’t have a chance to become acclimated enough to participate.

So I’m working hard now, walking every day and doing stair climbing exercises, and I’m going to take it easy in Colorado¬† – use my PulseOx a little more often than usual, chill out, and don’t get a burr under my saddle and decide I’m gonna whip that six mile course anyway. I have supplemental oxygen in the hotel room, just in case.

And my friends are all Funky Hearts too, so if I start falling apart at the seams, they’ll recognize the signs and come to my rescue!

You own it, you pay for it!

October 4, 2008

You had best watch out, your insurance company is up to no good.

I wear a nasal mask connected to an oxygen concentrator when I sleep, breathing 6 liters of oxygen. (I think it’s 6 liters per minute, but just my luck it is a different measurement.) It’s not a “must-have”, and I can miss a few nights. A few years ago I didn’t use it for ten nights in a row while I was on vacation. But it sure does help my batteries recharge, and after about three nights without it, I sure can feel it.

Needless to say, when this thing breaks down, it breaks down during the middle of the night. When else would it, since I don’t use it during the day? And when it goes on the blink, it doesn’t just shut down… it activates a buzzer that stays on until the machine is reset, fixed, or turned off. I’m sure that it is set up that way for anyone who needs their oxygen 24/7 so I can’t really complain, but when you just need it for a little while it can be irritating.

So my concentrator broke down last week. I know a few “tricks” that can usually fix it – press the reset button, wash the filters (they get washed once a week anyway, a buzzer just gets them an extra wash) and sometimes just turn it off and wait a few seconds does the trick. But not this time.

So I make a phone call to the company that rents and maintains the machine; and they look up the records. No problem, we’ll be out tomorrow, and your fee will be $150.

Fee? What fee?

Your father owns these concentrators, and we charge a $75 per concentrator fee for a repair call. And that is just the repair call. Parts and labor will be figured out once the machines are serviced.

Oh, be assured that my father was thrilled to hear that. So we did some investigating. His insurance did originally pay the rent on the concentrators. But after a period of time (usually a year) the insurance company decides that the concentrators have lost some of their value through depreciation. And when that happens, they just buy the machines outright, and transfer them into your name… and never mention it to you. So when it eventually comes time to have them repaired, surprise! Here’s a bill!

And we couldn’t do anything about it. There was never a question of changing the insurance company’s mind – like that’s going to happen – but my father used to work at a textile mill. As time passed, the mill was purchased, mis-managed, and eventually closed. So there is no mill, no insurance company, no customer service or Human Relations Department to fuss at… all that is left is an empty building. I guess I could kick the building, but that probably wouldn’t accomplish very much.

The original insurance plan was great. An unmarried child of an employee was covered from the time he or she was born until they turned 21 or graduated college, whichever came last. And if the child was disabled, they were covered for as long as the employee was covered under the group policy. (In other words, had a job there) That insurance plan paid for the bulk of three heart operations, hospital time, drugs, and Lord knows what else, so I am very thankful for it. But transferring the concentrators without our knowledge just didn’t seem to be quite on the up-and-up.

So the only thing I can recommend to you is to read that policy. Reread it… often.