Sunday, September 15, 2013

Back home again...

    I slipped off to Vermont last month, not long after my last post. I didn't want to "jinx" myself by talking about it beforehand, as on the health front things were just too "iffy" to be sure I could get there and back OK. Nothing went as planned, but everything worked out despite Murphy and his laws...

   The oxygen company dropped off a portable concentrater for me to use the day before I left. I'd tried to get one a few weekends before to experiment with, but they said they had none extra as it was peak vacation season. They were also supposed to drop off a smaller 5 liter machine for me to take with me, but it got left off their list. Dottie had already decided I was taking my 10 liter one from home, and the compressor for the walk-around bottles I've been using for the last 8 months, and I was lucky enough that the guy who drives the truck came up with another high-pressure bottle for me as well. Between the 4 that I have I can make 12-14 hours right now just on bottles, depending on my activity level.

    We packed and she loaded most of the car the night before; the morning we were leaving she loaded the two machines last, we put the portable in the backseat between them, and plugged it into the cigarette lighter. It alarmed immediately, and I went through the troubleshooting stuff and couldn't make it stop. We did the last errand we had in town as I called them and they asked if I could stop there on my way out of  town. We lost an hour, but they traded me machines and the 2nd one worked OK. On 12 volts it would maintain my numbers as long as I was sitting or driving-if I tried to walk I crashed immediately as it doesn't have the reserve to allow multiple "puffs" in the same breath like the bottles do. So when I was in the car I used the machine; each time we stopped I switched to one of my bottles.

   That night, in the first motel, I tried to shower and did OK in the beginning, but by the time I'd done my legs and feet, my numbers were down in the 70's and I was close to passing out. The directions said you could put a 50 foot hose on it; I only used a 25 and had it turned all the way up running on 110 from the motel. My lungs were aching for 3 days after that...every time my numbers get that low it's bad for a while.

   The 2nd night we made Vermont. We had worried about the 2700 foot passes going in, and I wore my oximeter the whole time, tracking my numbers and stayed at 98% while on the portable. After we cleared the passes, Dottie said she was too tired to drive further, so I took the wheel for the last 3 hours to her sister's.

   Of course, it was right after that she said that she was really hoping she'd get to see a moose this time, as I had 2 trips ago with her brother-in-law Tom. I'm driving, it's 11 at night and starting to get foggier by the minute. Somehow I just knew her moose was going to appear in front of the car, especially when it got to the point of foggy you could only see about 3 car lengths and I was down to minimum highway speed!

   Instead I drove into rain, and the visibility got a bit better. She never did get to see her moose this time (thank goodness)!

    When we got to her sister's, I'd used 2 of my medium bottles, I still had the smallest and largest full. We got things unloaded and started the machines up and then I slept about 10 hours.

   Since none of us were sure if this was my last trip over the mountains or not, instead of spending most of the time visiting family, they decided to take me all the places I'd always wanted to go in 36 years of visits, but hadn't been to, along with a few new ones I'd found that even they didn't know of. We managed new places almost every day of the two weeks, along with a couple of wonderful family barbecues. I managed to hit a few bookstores and bring home some new treats as well, all used but one. One is a 138 year old Library of Congress "extra" that gives the inventory of the library/art gallery Dottie's great-great-uncle gave the town of St. Johnsbury!

    The first Wednesday back I saw my pulmonologist. She said my lung capacity was back up just a smidge (42% up to 45%) and that I'd done well enough that if I promised not to try to "tough it out" and turn around and come back if things didn't work well, I could try to go to Colorado after Bill and Laura's first child is born in November. They are due early in the month and when they were here for Labor Day, Bill figured out that he most likely won't be able to travel at Thanksgiving. I really don't want them on the plains right then anyway, if there's any chance of them getting stuck. I-70 is the only place I've ever seen gates on the freeway ramps that they can padlock to keep you from getting on, and with a newborn that worries me!

   This last Tuesday I went in and had a new PICC line put into my right arm. They pulled the one in my left before the trip as it was 7 months old, which is old for one of those, and had a bit of a kink besides. It was so nice not having to travel with it, to wrap it to shower and to have my skin have a chance to heal!

   The new one is taking some getting used to as besides being in my right arm, it's also more towards the front and so every time the bicep moves it is in the way. Friday I had chemo, and after they cleaned all the dried blood and stuff from the PICC site at least the itch has stopped for the last few days! Between taking prednizone for that and the pre-chemo steroids I was a bit of an emotional wreck!

   After things settle down a bit I'll touch up and post some of the trip photos I came home with. Not as much scenery as I wish I'd shot, but some interesting places we visited.

    I hope life is being kind to each of you!




Kranki said...

So glad to hear that you had a wonderful vacation with friends and family. Sounds like a great trip. The picc line sounds not so much fun. I still have my port-o-cath in and that only requires a quick flush with saline once a month when not in use. Do you think you could get one of those put in instead? It isn't always appropriate for everybody, though. Thanks for the update! So happy to see you online again.

robin andrea said...

Sounds like a really good trip, alan. I am so glad you were able to make it. Hope the kids are okay in Colorado. That was quite a flood in Boulder County.

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