After my pulmonary embolism, I left hospital with an oxygen tank. I was on oxygen for 24/7. The Medical Aid only approved one huge and heavy box of oxygen. I was sooo disappointed, because how could I even start walking or exercising with that box? I immediately asked for a smaller, portable machine as well, which I had to fund myself.
The large machine is electric and can work 24/7. The portable I received had about 3 hours’ of air. It could be charged in the car. We still had some power failures when I left hospital and I was paranoid about being caught in a power failure without oxygen.
I couldn’t keep the small one and return the large one either, because that would not have gotten me through the night.
The worst was the embarrassment, I felt I didn’t want to leave the house like that! I wanted to wear a burka!
The most inspirational story I followed at the time was that of the young, beautiful and talented Jenna Lowe. (Get me to 21) Here was this young woman, setting an example for us all with her courage to live life to the full with her oxygen mask. (Unfortunately she passed away at about the time I got diagnosed.)
So once I emerged from my shell I got on with my life and ignored the stares. I eventually started going off the machine for short periods. I found that I didn’t fall over. I was wondering if I’m going to be stuck to a machine forever. I was unsure of the way forward. I heard of people getting addicted to oxygen – the doctor said “not true”. It probably ends up being a psychological dependence but I didn’t want to end up that way. I started to take myself off the oxygen for longer periods during the day. I felt none the worse around the house. Bath/shower time was an exhausting exercise that would leave me quite out of breath. I think round about November 2015 I weaned myself off completely during the day but still carried the portable oxygen tank around with me in the car “just in case”.
I realised it was becoming too expensive to hang onto the portable machine for “just in case” and finally returned it, after I’d walked my normal 10 minute walk together with the representative from Oxygen & General with the oxygen monitor on my finger. My oxygen level remained acceptable but for safety sake I bought my own oxygen monitor for future use. It is a small device that clips onto the finger to measure vital stats and oxygen level.
At the moment I only use the big machine for sleeping at night but I have stayed out overnight and slept fine without it too.