When my doctor first told me I needed long-term oxygen therapy to manage my chronic bronchitis, I have to admit, I was scared.
Immediately I saw visions of myself strapped to an over-sized metal cylinder taking pull-after-pull from an oxygen mask, confined to a chair in my living room. My mind raced: Would I have to lug an unwieldy tank around with me everywhere I went? Aren’t those things extremely flammable? How about traveling? Would this affect my trips to Seattle to see my four grandchildren? Our annual ski vacation to the Rockies?
Would my life, as I knew it, ever be the same?
Does this sound familiar? Did you have the same conversation with yourself when you learned you needed oxygen therapy?
Here a few things you need to know to ease your fears:
Oxygen therapy had advanced considerably in the last eight years. Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) give patients more options, freedom, and flexibility than ever before.
Gone are the days when oxygen patients have to kiss their Golden Years goodbye. Sure, having lung disease was a serious matter, one you will have to manage for the rest of your years, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy most of the lifestyle you are accustomed to.
Oxygen devices came in many varieties, and knowing which one fits your lifestyle best is vital.
Oxygen can be delivered in gaseous or liquid form. Gaseous oxygen is often provided in cylinders, which are delivered by a homecare provider, or they may be filled from a trans-fill system that is kept in the home. For the home, the most common gaseous oxygen delivery device is the oxygen concentrator, which draws in air and separates the oxygen from other gases. Stationary (or home) concentrators are powerful, but often large, and generally don’t leave the house.
For oxygen on-the-go, portable concentrators are quickly rising to the top as the best source of oxygen. Portable oxygen concentrators are small and easy to carry or wheel on a cart. They work on electrical power in the home, use your car’s battery power when plugged into the automobile outlet, and even work on battery power for maximum portability. That means you can make those travel plans to Seattle to see your grandchildren, or even take that trip to the Rockies.
Keep in mind, you have the right to choose your oxygen equipment provider and not all providers offer the entire range of oxygen systems. So talk to your doctor and do your research.
Being dependent on supplemental oxygen isn’t easy, but it can be manageable.
It’s up to you (and me) to help make it that way.