Change and the Concerns that Come with It

Last updated: July 2018

For the vast majority of my adult life, I have worked in a heavy industrial field, both in the petrochemical field as well as the oil and gas field. For the longest time, I have been a pipe fitter and welder by trade. Now days, I am also an instrumentation fitter running hydraulics for drilling rigs. Most recently however, I have been placed in an office job (which I am truly grateful for) doing time and ordering parts, etc.

My current position has allowed me to have a huge break from working in the elements outside. There have recently been some developments that present opportunities for me to get back to my craft in the field again, so I find myself being both excited and nervous about the future. This change would allow me to bring home more money, which would be helpful since my wife has been placed on disability and is easily making less than half of what she used to bring home when she was working in the oil and gas industry herself.

Help of a New Lung Doctor

My current lung doctor has been great at helping me find ways to reduce the effects of my symptoms. He has made changes like altering a completely unrelated medication because it had a side effect that was causing my coughing to be worse. Which of course, none of my other doctors seemed to know anything about this side effect. Now on most days, I do not even have to use my rescue inhaler for a nice change.

Work Opportunity

Being given the opportunity to go back in the actual field means I will be able to earn considerably more for the household; but I worry about the environmental changes and how my COPD will be affected by it all. Metal fabrication type of work is always dirty. Unfortunately, there is no way around that fact. There is flying debris from grinding stones, metal dust and metal shavings. Of course, with the welding aspect, there is also Argon that must be handled. Argon is an asphyxiant but is otherwise harmless.

What it Means for my COPD

What that means for me is a definite need to carry my rescue inhaler with me to work. The combination of heat from the welding coupled with the use of Argon has a tendency of making me cough. All by itself it is not that big of a deal, but when you add in all of the other stuff, mentioned above, in the air it can be difficult to deal with.

I believe in this case the best thing I can do is to utilize paper dust masks to minimize the inhalation of the different particles in the air and take breaks accordingly to get fresh air into my lungs throughout the workday. We do have plenty of that dust masks at home, if there are none at the job site, because my wife’s mom sent us a ton after Hurricane Harvey to make sure my wife’s lungs were not compromised during demolition.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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