Breathing Better

This was a request for donations to help me purchase a portable oxygen concentrator. I received a goodly number of contributions which, when added to my meager savings allowed me to purchase an Inogen g3 unit. Therefor have closed the Go Fund Me account. Thanks to everyone that helped.

I’m not sure I’d call this a “Good Adventure” but I entered a new stage of my life Last Wednesday: living with supplemental oxygen. Breathing has gotten much more difficult over the last year. A couple of weeks ago I went to the pulmonologist received a prescription for supplemental oxygen. Since I live on a small sailboat on a canal off the Saint Johns River in Central Florida the use of oxygen tanks was out of the question. The solution had to be a portable oxygen concentrator. I spent hours on line looking at various makes and models. I decided that either the Inogen G3 or the G5 would be what I wanted. The Inogen G3 is one of the concentrators most often mentioned as a top unit in dependability and durability. Trying to find out what the damned things actually cost, and I mean this about ALL the manufacturers, not just Inogen, is worse than trying to get an auto insurance quote online. Everyone requires you to give them an email address so they can clutter up your email inbox with spam for the rest of your life. I finally broke down and gave my info to a couple of companies that seemed to offer the best info, less prices. A brand new unit runs a bit over $3K.

Doesn’t Medicare cover the expense? Well, sometimes, but not often and it’s really convoluted. What it boils down to is you have to require oxygen 24/7. I don’t. Even if you do, then Medicare will ONLY cover the costs of RENTING a unit from an oxygen supplier. I was sorta stuck, so I have to go ahead an buy one.

I talked to someone who had a G3 for sale on Facebook Market Place for $800, but after sleeping on it for a night decided I didn’t want to take the chance on a used unit with no warranty. But I did find a refurbished Imogen G3 with a one year warranty for a grand less than a brand new one with a three year warranty. Hell, I might not even be around in three years what with three stents in my heart as is so the single year is okay by me.

So Wednesday the unit arrived. We’ll see if it actually changes my life.

There are two lithium ion batteries. Of course it’s shipped with the smaller one but that’s supposed to give four hours running time alone at the second setting. They claim the “double” battery, at $350+ will give up to 10 hours running time.

It’s not very big. Nine inches high, eight and three-quarters wide, and three inches thick. It weighs in at a bit over five pounds. Came with a carrying case with a shoulder strap, a 110 volt power supply that charges the battery while also operating the unit, and a car cigarette lighter plug thingy to charge it while you’re driving.

I was a copywriter for an ad agency once so I know how all that stuff works. In all the literature about the various portable oxygen concentrators there are pictures of people with these things stuck up their noses doing stuff like running marathons, playing rugby and white water rafting. Not that I’d be doing any of that crap if I didn’t have COPD and I did exaggerate a tad about what people are doing in that promotional literature, but they all have cat that ate the canary grins on their faces. Me? I’ll be happy if I can walk a city block without collapsing as I did in Chicago in July. Well, not total collapse, but I had to stop three times in one block and the last time I was down on a knee because I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs.

When I got back to The Swamp with the unit it only took a couple of minutes to set it up and hit the power-on button. I’d watched several YouTube vids in advance. So, after going on my boat for my computer in a backpack and my oxymeter on its cord over my neck I sat at the picnic table a little winded. as usual. The oxymeter gave me a blood/oxygen reading of 91%. I put the cannula on and within a couple of minutes the reading was up to 97%. I kept a log of my blood oxygen levels through the month of August and rarely saw it hit above 92%. Generally it was hovering in the upper 80s and lower 90s.

I gathered my stuff and headed to the air conditioned “pod” a couple of hundred feet away. I know that’s not far for almost everyone who might be reading this, but often I would have to stop at the half to three quarters mark until I could breathe well enough to continue, and when I’d get to the table outside the pod I was usually done in and need to take a couple of hits off my inhaler.

The G3 is NOT a miracle. But I was able to make it all the way to the table in one go and, while winded, I didn’t feel the need to use the inhaler. Honest I didn’t.

My 02 reading said 91% but it was back up to 97% in under a minute and I was breathing like the rest of the world shortly after that.

All the literature about COPD and the doctors I’ve consulted all say that exercise, while seemingly counter intuitive, is necessary for patients to do. I have some exercises I’m supposed to be doing and now I’m going to start walking again to build up strength in my lungs once more.

Next will be going out in public with this thing stuck under my nose. But I’m sure I’ll get over the embarrassment, Took me a little while to get over the embarrassment of holding a stupid sign at the airports when I was doing pick ups for a limo service pre-9/11. And if anyone it going to offer me sympathy because of my condition I’m going to milk it to the max!


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