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April 29 2013 Tips for the Newbie oxygen user

Posted Apr 30 2013 5:20am
 Tips for   the “Newbie” oxygen user  (learned from personal experience,   from on-line oxygen support groups,   at a Better breathers meeting, and at Pulmonary Rehab.   My reaction (of ten years past), to the delivery of oxygen equipment…    Presented with an E- tank of compressed gas/oxygen,

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“I’m not THAT old!”   (as if age has anything to do with it).  Don’t you have anything smaller?”And so began my journey through the maze of oxygen equipment and how delivery systems differ: compressed gas O2, Liquid oxygen, concentrator oxygen made from the room air, each with different purity, the different weights and sizes of portables, and of major importance…what our Oxygen supplier   company –-will provide to us .   In my experience there wasn’t any information about what they had to supply, THAT the patient often needs to figure out on their own.   One needs to become their own advocate- and this takes time and energy and can be exhausting.   Those phone menus drive me crazy.

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Concentrators- noisy, hot, (do not locate it under your home thermostat, I did and it practically cut off the house heat), it pushes up ones electric bill it is expensive… but is allowed as a deduction for tax purposes.   These machines go off when power is out, best you learn real quickly that you must have a back up supply of oxygen handy at home or where ever you go.   The good old E tank, keep several   extra at home and in your car- extra in case your outing is delayed by traffic, accident, weather, whatever.

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Liquid oxygen portablesare lighter weight and last longer, but they eventually lose their oxygen whether used or not, so you keep the E tanks for back up.   If you are lucky enough to have your doctor prescribe liquid O2 for you, and you have a concentrator… you have to argue to be allowed to have the compressed gas cylinders as back up.   Pressing the safety issue, for my life & breathing,   my company allowed me to keep some e tanks and smaller portable one- with regulators.

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When a provider gives you a negative experience tell your doctor to make it clear/prescribe what your needs are, how much oxygen delivery you need at rest AND for exertion or exercise.   Have them give your highest delivery requirement, otherwise, the supplier will not deliver suitable equipment.   Example if you need over 6 liters for exercise, you will need a larger concentrator that delivers up to 10 L, as the one they normally deliver only goes up to 5 L.   Then, if you use gas cylinders, you will need a regulator that is for higher flow delivery.   The same with liquid O2,   portables deliver 1-6 Liters, and then high flow ones that deliver   1-15 Liters per minute.   The supplier/provider will not give you these without the doctors explicit Prescription.

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Then the actual method of delivery of your oxygen to you:

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The cannula and tubing, long and short, thick or soft, clear or green, long prongs - short ones- stiffer – curved, and even some that downright smell awful.     If you are lucky and were sent to pulmonary rehabilitation classes you will learn a lot there, but lacking that, If you have a problem, and do not have a computer where you can find information easily, you shouldn’t hesitate to call your oxygen provider and ask about anything that bothers you about your cannula or how to use your systems.   Some give good instructions or paper copy explanations, but 10 years ago, my introduction was 20 minutes and I was left without paper copy of how to operate… a scary and frustrating situation.   Thank goodness I was sent for Pulmonary rehab, and I urge everyone to ask your doctor about it.

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The long tubesattach to your concentrator or liquid oxygen reservoirs that can have a humidifier attachment.  Humidity is extremely important for your lung/comfort when the supplementary oxygen is being blown into you.   Get that bottle on properly, not cross threaded or you lose – leak out the oxygen there - before it goes to the long tube to you.   One of the first things everyone learns is – ones ears feel like they are being shaved off when someone steps on their long tube and it brings them to a screeching stop.

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     Eliminate those sore ears.   Clip the tube to your waist line, so the tug goes there instead of up to your ears.    Badge clips, office clips, anything that will hold it there.   Some even put a loop around their wrist by the ‘swivel ‘connector.   Smell of cannula objectionable?   ask for another brand, we all have various sensitivities,   some like an especially “soft” hose – a brand for which you have to pay extra that is not routinely supplied.

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    Lubricate your nostrils.  Water-basedlubricants help prevent dryness, irritation and cracking of the nose associated with supplemental oxygen therapy, BiPap and CPAP.   Two other machines that help with sleep apnea, they do now have humidifiers – which I found wonderful since I am a high flow user when exercising.  Prongs too long?   You can snip them down or ask for another model cannula.

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  Different pulse deliveries give different pulses, almost ‘blasts’ of oxygen, that over time can actually cause holes.   The compressed oxygen cylinders give a harder bolus of oxygen,   most of the liquid portables that I have tested are somewhat softer in the delivery of a pulse/puff.

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   Long tube tangles & snarls can be controlled.   Carefully coil the 25 or 50 ft long tube neatly placed into a net lingerie bag, into the clothes drier with a few buffer towels around it.    Remove after 10 minutes…check it to see if warm, nice- soft and supple.   Quickly upon removal stretch it out its full length –( nice to have a helper) here one at each end to pull then lay it out flat to cool.   Using swivel connectors between tube lengths help too.   Ask the provider for them.   No dryer? Hot, not boiling water will do the trick to soften kinky hose, but is messy, or even lying tubing out in the hot sunshine will soften it and reduce those kinks to slinky softness where it slithers about behind you.

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LOVE YOUR SUPPLEMENTAL OXYGEN – IT IS A LIFE LINE, NOT A LEASH.   It supplies the energy that every cell in your body needs.ALTERNATIVESIf the cannula is objectionable, you can use Oxy-View Glasses – they are good for delivery up to 4 L. Telephone Toll free in the US -- (877) 699-8439  Postal address14 Inverness Drive East, Suite H-100 Englewood, Colorado 80112   or  http://www.oxyview.com/   

Get everything off your face, check out Transtracheal Oxygen systems TOLL FREE 1-800-527-2667 ASK for them to send a brochure and video tape.  That is the system I switched to after almost 4 years and now I am “necking with oxygen” almost 7 years- fabulous, kicked myself that I hadn’t done it sooner.www.tto2.com   I have no financial interest in these companies, I just know them to be great products from which I have benefitted tremendously. I even run my own TTO support group – AND and exercise group on line now.

TTO user support grouphttp://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/TranstrachealOxygenUsers/

M'n M's Movin'More 2 B fithttp://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/mn-m/    the exercise group, M n M's is open topic, share attachments & photos.

What ever you do KEEP MOVING!

Lyn (Roxlyn G Cole) roxlyngcd@comcast.net

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