At the End of My Rope
I got my shiny new oxygen concentrator in 2016, and 33 feet of hose to walk around the house with. They provided me with several smaller bottles, a backpack, and a tall emergency bottle in case of a power outage. I was all hooked up and ready to start the next phase of living with COPD.
I was fortunate to have everything I needed on the same floor and within 33 feet if the unit was positioned in the middle of my home. The gentleman that delivered my new supplies gave me a basic tour of how to operate my new equipment.
Firefighting skills didn't transfer
I was a volunteer firefighter for 20 years, with experience fighting multiple house fires, car fires, and having rolled miles and miles of fire hoses during my tenure. So I thought a small plastic hose 33 feet long would be simple enough for me to manage with my eyes closed.
From my bedroom is a straight shot through the living room, past the concentrator, and out to the kitchen. I have a large island in the middle of the kitchen to go around to get to the fridge, stove, and finally the sink. I don't remember the tech who delivered my supplies mentioning that the hose can get caught on the cupboard handles and nearly rip your ears off. How many times did I have to hook a handle, have myself or someone else step on the hose, or snag a floor mat to have my hose ripped off my face before I learned a better method?
Think inside the box
One day I was complaining to my folks about how frustrated I was with my new lifestyle and how I dropped my chili and coffee all over the floor after catching my hose yet again while walking from the kitchen to the living room. Like it was no big deal my dad said, "Why don't I take the knobs off those cupboards on the island for you?" (TADA! Insert magic sound). Four years of catching my hose at least twice a week, and poof, problem solved.
Then my mom, who was a hairdresser for 50 years, said, "I used to give my clippers some extra slack in case I stepped on the cord to prevent them from moving quickly and buzzing up someone's head!" (TADA! Insert magic sound). In one night I lost the tricky knobs that constantly pulled my life down and then gave the hose slack in my hand to look out for my poor ears. Now I never go anywhere without a handful of the hose and my nose and ears are thankful.
Knots are for donuts
We are creatures of habit and are tethered to our machines anyway, so this just happens. Our hoses get all wound up like a cinnamon sugar knot. I used to take my cannula and place it on a hook in the bathroom, unplug the machine, and walk to the kitchen. Now for the most awkward game of skipping the hose before I can't breathe and hear my heart pounding in my ears!
Then I found a much easier way after my hose popped off the concentrator one day. Take approximately the halfway point of the hose and hook it to an anchoring spot like a chair or doorknob. Now pop the hose from your cannula, straighten half of it, and plug it back in. Then pop the hose off the concentrator and straighten out the second half. You should then have the entire length done in smaller workloads and you are right there in case you need to plug in and get fresh O2.
"Breathe free, my friends."
How has your experience been navigating the healthcare system as someone with COPD?