Today was a bit of a red-letter day - we went out for a walk!
You are starting at me, wondering what is going on here.
A couple of days ago I had a conversation with a respiratory nurse regarding an appointment for oxygen assessment. In view of the amount of covid that is around, we have deferred the appointment until April or May.
However, this appointment was to assess whether using oxygen would help me when I am going for a walk. The problem is that I already have quite severe pulmonary fibrosis, meaning that the oxygen can't get through the membrane of my lungs into my bloodstream. Because tests showed that my levels dip below what is sensible when I am asleep, I have to use an oxygen concentrator overnight.
Any exertion such as going upstairs, or getting dressed in a hurry because I've forgotten about a piano lesson, or walking up a slight incline, leaves me gasping like a landed fish.
Getting low on oxygen is quite unpleasant; it makes me feel grumpy, and anxious. If I have really pushed myself too far, I start panicking and have to 'speak firmly' to myself to keep control. I don't think these are 'mental' issues; I think it is part of the physical side of low oxygen, because as soon as I have recovered my breath - three - five minutes - I feel completely normal again. My oxygen saturation levels will dip to below 70%, but will recover to around 90% if I just wait. And gasp.
As a result of talking to the nurse, we decided to take my portable oxygen concentrator, the one we use when we are going away overnight, for a walk. It is 'portable' as in having a carrying strap and weighing 'only' ten pounds...
We set off to test how this would go. Himself acted as porter, we set the machine going and I would the nasal canula around my ears. We also held hands (how sweet!), partly because we always do except when I get grumpy, and partly so that we would remember that we were attached by the canula.
Not only did I do the full loop around the block (a whole kilometre!) but I added an extra length down what I consider to be a hill and back up again (200m) and kept going at a slightly faster snail's pace than normal. I didn't need to stop and catch my breath (although the machine complained a few times that I was breathing too hard) and I didn't get anxious or grumpy or feel I was forcing myself onwards (as far as that drive, as far as that lamp post, as far as that car)
This is excellent news; we had set the machine to deliver 2 litres per minute 'pulse' rather than 'continuous stream', in other words the oxygen is supplied when the machine senses my breathing in. The reason for choosing this setting is that there are a number of smaller, lighter machines around, weighing in at about 2.5 pounds but will can only deliver up to this amount of oxygen, and only on a pulse setting.
The nurse was of the opinion that I would need to use an oxygen bottle delivering 4 litres continuous, and I don't doubt that this is what I would need if I wanted to go cycling or be more active. But for ambling along a promenade, walking along the path through the woods, or
...... joining excursions when having a River Cruise Holiday in France or Brussels or along the Rhine.....
it looks as though the smaller little portable machine might keep me going for a year or two! I could carry the machine and Himself can load the spare batteries into his back pack. I would be able to go off on my own! We need not hold hands! (Although we probably would!)
We shall experiment further over the next day or so, before I try and persuade the nurse to give us the form we would need to buy, or even be prescribed, the lightweight machine.
But I am so encouraged my today's walk - 1.2 km - who would have thought it possible!