Which is to say the 50-foot plastic hose that hooks onto the oxygen concentrator that is currently making my office feel like an oven. This contraption is about as big as one of those wheeled carry on baggage things. It plugs in, so it has some kind of electric motor, which puts out so much heat that it’s raised the temperature in my office by about 5 degrees, — which doesn’t sound like much until you take into account that my thermostat for the AC is set on 80F (26.6C) so my electric bills are not heart-stoppingly huge. Right now in my office, the thermometer on the clock atop my computer reads 85F (29.4C).
You know those air brakes like buses and big trucks have and that PPSSSSSSSHHTT noise they make when you take your foot off the brake pedal? That’s the kind of noise this oxygen concentrator makes literally every 5 seconds, constantly. I originally had it in my bedroom, but it got so hot back there I could hardly sleep, so I moved it into my office, which actually helped with the hose thing — at least now it reaches (just barely) to the front door. (My office is closer to the front door than my bedroom.) I have it set on 1 liter — which means I get a cubic liter of oxygen pfffftted up my nose every minute (like the inside of my nose wasn’t already dry enough . . .). I went home from the hospital on 2 liters, so that’s down by half in just three weeks.
In the last week or so, whenever I had to get up and do something, like going into the kitchen to get something or make a meal, or going into the bathroom to do bathroom things, or taking a shower, I’ve been taking the hose off and doing it without oxygen. (I hate having to drag that stupid hose around everywhere I go.) I always take my blood oxygen saturation (O2sat) reading just before I put the oxygen back on. In the last couple of days, it’s been reading 90-91% even when I’ve been off the oxygen for 10-15 minutes. Last night, I changed the sheets on my bed, which requires a good deal more physical exertion than say getting up and getting something from the refrigerator. I had to stop and rest three times before I got it done, but I went without oxygen the whole time. I would fall down into the 80s (85-86%), but as soon as I would sit down and rest, it would quickly come back up to at least 90%, which I am viewing as a major triumph.
The fact that I found changing the sheets on my bed physically exhausting tells you how debilitated I am at the moment. It’s gotten to the point where I get to do one “major” thing per day. If I try to do more than that, I run out of “spoons”. Like today, I schlepped that stupid oxygen tank to knitting group and back, and that was my “major” thing for today. The rest of the day I was conserving spoons by sitting at the computer working on a story I’m writing. (I’m not trying to get published or anything; I just like writing stories.) (Another spoon conserving activity I engage in is sitting and knitting.)
Tomorrow, my mom and I are going to get a pedicure, so that will be my “major” thing for tomorrow. The dirty sheets and towels that are piled on the floor in my bedroom will stay there until Friday, when my “major” thing will be to wash and dry them and the dirty clothes in the clothes hamper, and hopefully get everything folded and put away (the folding and putting away may get bumped to Saturday). Thursday, my “major” thing will be to take the garbage to the dumpster in the alley, which I will have to do either in a couple of trips without oxygen (resting and wearing oxygen in between trips), or in multiple trips one bag at a time while pulling that stupid oxygen tank with me. Do I need to elaborate on how screamingly frustrating I find this whole situation? Even three months ago, I would have been able to accomplish everything I mentioned in this paragraph in one day. I’d have been pooped by the end of the day, but I would have gotten it all done.
I’ve just about made up my mind that tomorrow, I’m going to leave the oxygen tank at home. Changing the sheets on my bed (without oxygen) is much more physically demanding than walking from the house to the car, and from the car into the nail place to sit quietly and have my pedicure. I can walk from one end of the house to the other and back off oxygen and without desaturating below 90%, so I’ll be OK. I’ll bring my pulse oximeter with me and check my O2sat from time to time, but I’m going to bet it doesn’t fall below 90%. Now if I can just keep my mom from freaking out when I go out to get in her car without that stupid oxygen bottle. . . .