Oxygen Tubing…Everywhere

COPD and Need for Oxygen
COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Denny had that disease for many years. I don’t see online where anyone has found a cure for it yet. There are recommended treatments, and Denny took the medicines doctors recommended, but his lungs seemed to be gradually worsening. At one point, the doctor said he should be on oxygen at home. So, instead of carrying a tube of oxygen around, Denny ordered a home oxygen generator machine. Man, those were expensive. I think we paid somewhere around $600 to $1,000 for it, which sounded expensive to ME, anyway. But it was worth it, not having to pay an oxygen supplier monthly for the oxygen tubes and all. We kept the generator up in the family area, where Den would have access to it when he was watching TV and working at his computer. But he started needing the oxygen at night, too, so I moved the machine downstairs–when the basement became his refuge.

LONG Tubing
We had long oxygen tubing to affix to that generator, then a canula [or mask if necessary] on the other end of the tubing that would go on Denny’s nose or over his nose and mouth. As his COPD worsened, the oxygen tubing lengthened so that it could not only reach him in bed, but also go down the hall with him into the bathroom. So we ended up putting the generator midway between bathroom and bedroom, and the oxygen tubing would follow Denny wherever he went.

But long oxygen tubing all over the floor in the basement seemed like an accident waiting to happen, since that tubing could so easily have tripped him. That never ended up happening AMAZINGLY! It was sure hard to clean downstairs, with all that tubing running the gamut of the hallway from bedroom to bathroom, but it was worth it to have Denny feeling better on oxygen. And it was a MESS when we had our flooding times [see post “Water, Water Everywhere!”], let me tell you! Well, I won’t tell you. Just imagine it.

One day I went downstairs to help Denny. He was heading into his bed, so I rolled the oxygen machine a bit closer and brought his canula over to him so he could wear the oxygen in bed. He said, “I don’t need that anymore!”

Well. That took me aback. But I remembered a handful of years ago, when I took Denny to Denver to meet with his pulmonologist. That doctor had seen Denny often over the years, monitoring Denny’s COPD and lung health. The doctor announced to him that year, “You no longer have asthma!” Denny had suffered from asthma ever since he was a small boy. His asthma was quite severe when we were first married. He had to take medicines continually to avoid bad asthma attacks. I remember early in our life together that he would go out and mow the grass in the summer with his little Scotty and Westie doggies trotting along behind him. After two lengths of lawn, he would have to stop and pull out his inhaler and take another whiff. The dogs appreciated the frequent breaks and would go lie down in the shade under the bushes. But Denny took SO MUCH inhaler on grass mowing days that he ended up with a bad headache for the next few days. He was a wreck.

So I finally stepped up back in those bad asthma days and said, “Let me try taking over the mowing. I am healthier than you are, and it would be good exercise for me.” This coming from the pansy of the Engstrom family. I remember growing up in Rawlins, where Daddy typically did the mowing when we were younger. Then sisters Lorie and Connie started doing it, getting their lovely tans and working out to help. I did not like being outside, getting hot, or getting suntans (I just burned), so I was happy the sisters were doing it. All that to say, it was a minor miracle that I even thought to offer such assistance.

But back to the story…the doctor was right: Denny did not have any more asthma attacks. He was tested fully and showed no signs of asthma. We were super excited about that, thanking God for such a healing. [Hey, just occurred to me that Denny didn’t take back the mowing job! Whoa! That was sneaky of him to avoid that. I’ll need to process that…]

So who was I to say that Denny could not all of the sudden be healed of the need for extra oxygen? That was my thinking. I had thought God had healed him of asthma; so why couldn’t God just have healed him from COPD?! If Denny didn’t need the oxygen, who but Denny could say he did or didn’t need it? Denny had been quite addicted to having the oxygen on him for years. So that was AMAZING that he didn’t want or need it now! I was elated for him! Stupid me! So we rolled up his oxygen tubing off the floor and set it on one counter, out of the way and out of use. In retrospect, this was in the summer of 2020 I think. We didn’t get the dementia diagnosis until 2021.

Though his breathing seemed fine, he always had a cough. He felt like something was lodged in the lower tip of one of his lungs, and he would cough really hard trying to break that /bring that up. That severe coughing ended up producing an umbilical hernia! We only knew what it was, since daughter Emma was having her little baby in August of 2020 and had been reading about infant umbilical hernias. Yay for Emma! Anyway, I remember calling the doctor’s office that Friday to tell them about it. They scheduled me to bring him into the doctor’s office on Monday morning. The hernia worsened over the weekend, and I wondered if I should take him to the ER, but Denny wanted to wait until the doctor’s office opened on Monday. So Sunday night was rough. Denny was quite sick. We got him ready Monday morning, walked into the doc’s office, doc takes one look and admitted him to the hospital, performing emergency surgery that morning.

When Denny was in the hospital, the nurses said his oxygen stats were really low, so told me he needed to be on oxygen 24/7. I told them he told ME he didn’t need the oxygen anymore. They recommended I purchase a pulse oximeter to measure his oxygen level, and not take his word for it anymore. So I did. I feel so wise, finally knowing what a pulse oximeter is and how to use it! I’ve been so clueless most of my life, so let’s take time to celebrate one small victory!

So I took all the oxygen tubing from the nice tidy place where I had stored it at home, and spread it all over the floor again, from bedroom to bathroom, welcoming him home from the hospital with trails of tubing. Hoping against hope that constant oxygen would improve his mind.

I hope to have a post titled “Wires, Wires, Everywhere” next week, with several starring characters. See you then!

2 thoughts on “Oxygen Tubing…Everywhere”

  1. I was excited to receive this Betty Blog this morning. I had received your initial one, but didn’t know why I wasn’t getting new ones you said you were going to write. The tubing and oxygen concentators hit home to me as I dealt with them with both parents — best location, watching out to avoid falls, etc.
    I had the pleasure of know all of the Hitchcock brothers, their wives and their children, even David and his wife, their kids and even Verna, and of course, dear you, and your family. I am grateful for your stories, and will look forward to continue to read them . I did notice when I received today’s that I could go back and read the others which I am looking forward to doing. Continued Blessings in Abundance, and much love to you all in C Springs. Fondly , Dan

    1. Oh, so nice to hear from you, Danny!!! I’m sorry you hadn’t received earlier posts. But I did take quite a break from posting for a season, since my mind went somewhere and took a while to come back following Denny’s death, a move to my own place, and trying to adjust to new life here in the Springs. Sure do miss Laramie! The kids often talk of you — they loved having you as teacher! And I am enjoying the posts you put out on Facebook. Hoping all is going well with you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Sign up to be notified when there is a new post