As one with diminished lung functionality, it is imperative that my supplemental oxygen stay at the desired level (4-5 Liters) and at a constant flow. At home, the electric powered concentrator creates and distributes oxygen through a 100ft cord, giving me reliability and the mobility to carry on home activities. To travel or doing errands, I use oxygen canisters. The tanks are less constraining and give me the opportunity to roam independently around town. The drawback is, baring #7, they are not as dependable as the home machine. One tank only lasts a couple hours, so a long afternoon outing means loading multiple tanks in my car and doing activities in 2-4 hour incriments. Both oxygen systems have advantages and disadvantages. Overcoming the disadvantages forces me to confront life and death fears. Here is my list of real breathing worries I’ve encountered in my daily life.
10. Having enough tanks to last me on an outing. *Each tank lasts me approx. 2 hours so a lunch/movie afternoon is usually a double-duty.*
9. Remembering to carry the tank “key” with me. *While I’m out, the tank will bump into something or come loose, causing the oxygen to leak and hiss. I need the key to turn it ‘off’, unfasten and re-fasten the nasal. Hopefully that will fix it.*
8. Carrying an extra washer for the O2 tank nasal. *Sometimes the inside washer comes undone and there’s nothing you can do except remove it and snap on a new, undamaged washer.*
7. Black Outs. *Luckily, where I live doesn’t get many blackouts but the first one cut power to the concentrator. I didn’t know what was happening and my mind thought the worst. Would I suffocate to death?? After that, my oxygen company provided me with a MONSTER O2 tank that would last for 8 HOURS! Unless the end of the world came….I’d be fine.*
6. Miscalculating the amount of tanks necessary. (see #10)
5. Remembering to keep an eye on my tank output. * I’ve been with friends and, not wanting to miss the convo to exchange tanks, I’ll turn down my Liter Output a notch, saving time before the tank is empty. Obviously I intended to turn it up a few minutes later but a few times I’ve forgotten, leaving me dizzy and unsociable. Whenever I’d get disagreeable with my parents, they’d ask, “Is your oxygen low??” LOL….jerks.
4. Wearing oxygen at night. *I used to wear the nose prongs during sleep but somehow would swipe them off my head. What was I dreaming about? I was also what they call a “mouth breather.” Waking up head-achy and dizzy from low oxygen was a pain in the butt…..until I picked up a Bipap machine.* #WINNING!
3. Having a small crack in the tubing- reducing the air pressure and the lower oxygen flow going unnoticed until I’m dizzy and cranky.
2. Forgetting to call the company ahead of time to exchange empty tanks for full ones. Otherwise, I’m stuck at home an extra 1-4 days.
1. The #1 thing to worry about as an oxygen user is hooking up a lone canister for an outing to find out the company accidentally filled it with Easy Spray Cheese! Good thing I have crackers in my nostrils!