Monday, June 02, 2014

Traveling with Oxygen

My recent trip to the American Thoracic Society (ATS) was the first time I’d ever traveled with oxygen. This oxygen world is a whole new wilderness for me. I sometimes wonder if my frustrations and complaints sound silly to those who have been at this longer and have already figured it all out.

I didn’t know I’d need oxygen soon enough for my local provider to get me a portable oxygen concentrator for the trip. I’m not really sure why this is. You’d think they’d keep a few around as it doesn’t seem like that much of an unusual request.

But, rules are rules. So, I ended up having to rent a portable oxygen concentrator for the trip. The problem is I need continuous oxygen at night. I “bleed” the oxygen into my CPAP machine at night. Turns out this makes the whole process more complicated. Instead of the nice, light, looks-like-a-purse concentrator, I got the very heavy (uses the word portable loosely) concentrator. It came on a “cart” like a luggage cart people used to use before everyone’s luggage had wheels.

The problem was the concentrator was really too heavy for this cart. The wheels didn’t work well on carpet, even pretty flat carpet. The handle felt like it was going to break off at any moment when you pulled it. Pulling that much weight also wasn’t easy. It always seems like a sick kind of joke that oxygen equipment is so heavy for someone who is supposed to be ill. 

Compound this with the medications and medical supplies I already have to travel with for my ostomy, sleep apnea etc and well, this girl doesn’t travel light! It was impossible to manage the concentrator and the luggage myself. I spent a little fortune on tipping everyone to help me along the way. 

Thank the Lord Donna had the foresight to rent a wheel chair for the week. I never used the wheel chair because I was too tired to walk – no even once! But, I did put the not-so-portable oxygen concentrator in the wheel chair and pushed it around all week. It was much easier and less exhausting than pulling that crazy thing!!!

While at ATS, I did get turned onto another type of concentrator that might be easier for traveling. I haven’t had time to look into it though. I’ll have to get my pulmo to fill out paperwork, and I’ve been asking a lot of him lately. I think I’ll wait until my next appointment and take him the paperwork then. It seems my provider doesn’t carry this particular machine. What a shame.


2 comments:

Mary Beth said...

Hi Karen, it's Mary Beth from the old Breathe Support group. I hear your frustration with the oxygen equipment..I've often wondered why the equipment designed to deliver AIR to me is so HEAVY. It's crazy and for those of us with chronic illnesses it makes traveling very challenging.
Unfortunately I think you are going to find that any portable that can deliver continuous flow (as opposed to just pulse) is going to be heavier than you would like. The tiny lightweight portables (at least the ones that I know about) only deliver pulse. It's a problem and makes things more difficult for us. You will also find that obtaining one from your provider in general requires some advance notice. These units tend to be quite expensive and the suppliers tend to limit their inventory. Hopefully this is a short term problem. I've got my fingers crossed that you get a transplant and new lungs quickly getting rid of your need for supplemental O2 altogether. Let me know if I can help in any way.
Hugs,
Mary Beth

Mary Beth said...

Hi Karen, it's Mary Beth from the old Breathe Support group. I hear your frustration with the oxygen equipment..I've often wondered why the equipment designed to deliver AIR to me is so HEAVY. It's crazy and for those of us with chronic illnesses it makes traveling very challenging.
Unfortunately I think you are going to find that any portable that can deliver continuous flow (as opposed to just pulse) is going to be heavier than you would like. The tiny lightweight portables (at least the ones that I know about) only deliver pulse. It's a problem and makes things more difficult for us. You will also find that obtaining one from your provider in general requires some advance notice. These units tend to be quite expensive and the suppliers tend to limit their inventory. Hopefully this is a short term problem. I've got my fingers crossed that you get a transplant and new lungs quickly getting rid of your need for supplemental O2 altogether. Let me know if I can help in any way.
Hugs,
Mary Beth