Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I slept in a bedroom above a busy factory last night. At least that's how it sounded to me, as I lay down and waited for sleep to come my way. The respiratory supply company which provided my CPAP machine and all its supplies delivered my oxygen equipment that my doctor and now the Sleep Disorders Center at a local hospital had ordered. I wore a oxygen monitor awhile back, all night long, and the results from that showed that my oxy saturation level was approaching a critically low state while I slept -- something that's not uncommon at all, I was told. That low saturation level was, in fact, what triggered that vicious attack of the gasps that sent me to an ER in West Virginia a month or so ago and ultimately led to my current state of unemployment, they now believe. Low oxygen in the blood, coupled with sleep apnea, is not a good thing at all. Trust me on that one.

So, I signed for some equipment I can't possibly pay for, with my healthcare insurance on the verge of lapsing forever. The insurance company had to pre-authorize it before they delivered it, so I'm covered for now. But when it does lapse (and it will,) I have nothing to pay for COBRA with until the check for the partial distribution of my 401K money arrives and/or I find some kind of employment that I can do without losing my breath and passing out. As is typical in these cases, the more you need that money the longer it will take to get it. Never fails!!! I'm already collecting 'past due' notices all over the place. Should I frame them?? Maybe submit this to Guinness? I may be setting some kind of record here.

A tech delivered my new gear and explained its usage to me in a long session yesterday afternoon. The equipment consists of a little green oxygen cylinder on a wheeled cart that is still sitting in a corner of my living room, where it will remain until and unless I need it. That's just for emergency use -- in case the power conks out. Only good for about three hours. The main machine is another wheeled device that looks like one of the portable A/C recharging stations that you see in car repair shops. It's called an Oxygen Concentrator and it takes up a whole corner of my bedroom.

[Now I can see carrying that thing out with me on a truck every week, can't you?? Yeah. Right. Where would I sleep? It would consume half my sleeper space. So, yet another reason why my departure from my former occupation was well-justified, even though my doctor still stubbornly clings to her belief that I can still drive a truck. Well, yeah, I could drive one, true enough. But to put up with all the other crap that the treatment of my ailment entails??!!! I think not, doc. I strongly disagree. Maybe I can physically drive, but it's the other baggage that now goes with it that screws the pooch.]

Anyway, my oxgen constipator -- uh, I mean, oxygen concentrator sucks. Literally. It sucks in air on one side, separates the oxygen from it, dumps the other stuff back into the atmosphere, then pipes the oxy through a plastic hose out the other side and into the output fitting on my CPAP. What this all means is that the air my CPAP compresses and pumps out into my mask now has pure oxygen mixed in with it. This keeps my oxygen level up during the night when I'm asleep (and unable to take a nebulizer treatment) and allows me to sleep much better, as well as preventing another attack of the gaspies. And it works quite well, if the first night was any indication, because I awoke feeling much more refreshed this morning and breathing quite easily. I went about my early morning business casually, not rushing headlong into the kitchen and grabbing for my nebulizer cup, as had been my habit since I got that machine, two weeks ago. A large improvement.

So what I now have in my bedroom amounts to a neat little oxygen factory. Ain't technology amazing?? It's also expensive -- and noisy. It puts out a steady throbbing beat that's punctuated at regular intervals by sighing noises, not unlike a low-volume version of the air 'dump valve' opening on a truck that's idling in traffic. It also makes a sort of groaning noise from time to time. In short, it's a little "symphony" on wheels, located about four feet from my bed. I chuckled to myself last night, amused by the thought that my bedroom was somewhere on an upper floor, with an operational manufacturing plant of some kind below me. I could swear I heard a metallic 'clang' down there, at one point, mixed in with the other sounds. Midnight at the foundry, and I'm the night watchman, trying to steal a little shut-eye on the job!!

But I went out like a light and slept well. I'll get used to it quickly. Heck, if I can get so used to a diesel truck engine idling all night long that I never notice it, this will be a piece of cake!! It's worth it for a good night's sleep, for the first time in nearly two months, ever since my latest personal journey began. A welcome relief.


Dirk said...

Technology is really something now. Hoping you're 401K money comes soon, but really hoping you can find a job that will be compatible with your condition.

I've never been a truck driver, & apparently neither has your doctor. Was your doctor aware that you did not pull a flatbed with a forklift piggyback to haul all that equipment? Your doctor may be taking that position too because she may not want to get into a "disability war."

Hoping & praying everything will work out for you & fall into place.


Wil said...

Glad to hear the concentrator is working out. Ask the RT about the adapter to refill the 30 minute bottles and how many, given the rate of flow you need, would you need to carry to work as a local driver... it may be doable. Good luck, Larry.