A Big Thank You to O2!

June 30, 2010

….You can interperet this any way you like, but….

I’d like to say a mighty big ‘Thank You’ to the O2 Store in Brent Cross shopping centre.They treated me with utmost respect and care when I turned up to queue for my new iPhone 4G yesterday afternoon.

When I explained I had 2.5hrs of O2 in my concentrator, and after being told the queuing time could be 3 hrs, they took me under their wing. Not by queue jumping, how frightfully unBritish and unsporting that would have been!

But they brought me a chair and kept checking me in the queue every 10 minutes or so. Asking how my oxygen was going and bringing me cups of water. I was soon so waterlogged I began to think I would have to leave the queue to waddle off in search of a restroom! They even asked me if I’d need an ambulance if my oxygen ran out.

But I got to the front after 1hr 20 mins, and was served on a soft sofa by the Manager who understood it would be difficult to ask me to stand at a pod,  and I was presented with my prize for queuing (after presenting my credit card!).

So here is iLudwig 4G as he is affectionally and musically known, and hopefully the last grainy picture on this blog, taken with my old iPhone 3G:

And I am eternally grateful for the kind and considerate way in which all the Staff at Brent Cross treated me, yesterday.

But especially to Danesh, the queue supervisor and Gary the Manager who served me.

It was an impromptu shopping trip, with a superb finale.

But seeing as I am such a great advocate for the little Airsep Freestyle O2 concentrator,

….I do wish the company would hurry up and reply to my email letter….

….You can also read about yesterday’s purchase experience on my Project365 blog, day 29, here!….


The Heat is ON!

June 29, 2010

….And so is our Air Conditioning and the Irrigation system….

We do not experience such hot spells of weather very often in the UK. Global Warming, or rather, Climate Change has affected us differently-more that we get a year long mish mash of temperate weather. So the coldest, snowiest UK winter on record has been followed by what is showing all signs of being a boiling summer. We are officially in a drought now-with no measurable rain for 3 months.

And, being British, we all like to complain about the weather. Every time I look at FB, I see copious numbers of my friends’ updates mentioning ‘it’s too hot’, ‘it’s too humid’, ‘who stole the air’ (guilty for that, I’m sure) and others.

And of course, most of my friends have lung issues of varying degrees and we are all affected differently by the various weather and air conditions.

I for one have wet lungs, and therefore love dry desert heat. I need my daily 5 minutes in a sauna. I love the heat we are currently having but find the pollen, humidity and pollution of living outside of London affecting me badly. But in order to get animated during the current World Cup and Wimbledon matches, I am needing to wear my O2 at rest-because I am almost leaping off the sofa sometimes, and any amount of activity in this hot, airless environment has me gasping!

Others of my friends are moaning so much about our current summer, but then, they also moaned during the winter. We’re British, we moan about the weather-didn’t I already say that?

I have a good friend who loves humidity for her lungs-she goes in the steam room at her club and enjoys Florida holidays-but that would finish me off. It is sad to think I can never go to The Everglades again.

It is too humid in London and my one saving grace is the shade of our cool sunken patio or being able to retreat inside to our air conditioned bedroom.

And so far this Wimbledon they have not had to close the roof over Centre Court for rain. And my school are allowing pupils to leave their Blazers at home and arrive in their shirt sleeves. And we have already had it put to us that if the temperature is above a certain 30C/85F we will cancel Sports Day. Well, it’s supposed to be 30C/85F this Thursday actually! And Sports Day is still 3 weeks away.

Unfortunately though, my £21 million new school campus has windows that don’t open and CO2 vents that still don’t seem to work properly and the worst air con you’ve ever experienced. so I am better off in my at home air, although I do love my job. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have my own oxygen supply permanently on these days at school, I’d really be wilting and even more SOB.

Dear Brits, we get such awful summer weather usually, please try and enjoy this and stop moaning, for once.

Celebrate the sun and it’s healing love and warmth, and be happy about it!

Thank You!

And it’s not just the heat inside and out, it’s the dryness of the ground and gardens. Luckily back in 2003 we installed front and back garden irrigation for ourselves and both of our families have it too. But I am now needing to run it manually as well as on auto, and need to get the sprinklers going on our dried up lawns. Hose pipe bans here we come. Will this be another 1976 when Hyde Park resembled the Gobi desert?

….I dread to think what our electric and water bills are going to be this quarter!….

My Daily Air Alerts!

June 24, 2010

….At approximately 6pm every evening my iPhone beeps….

I subscribe to a free service for people suffering from severe lung disease, called ‘airTEXT, your air for London’. I was introduced to the scheme by my Team of hospital doctors. At about 6pm every evening I receive a text to say what the following day’s air is going to be like, pollen or pollution-wise.

Last night I received this text:

MODERATE air pollution forecast for THURSDAY

Health effects are unlikely to require action.

If unwell, contact GP.

I have often received texts warning of HIGH Air Pollution, and the advice is to ‘Consider reducing exposure by spending less time outdoors’. I do usually ‘twig’ what the air is going to be like pretty much before the text comes through-as by the start of the evening pollen ‘fall-out’, I am suffering! Needless to say, I think this is a great free service. From time to time I receive questionnaires in the post, to help with their research but I think it is a fantastic scheme.

I remember my childhood,  living in Pasadena, California, and frequently having Stage 1, 2, or 3 smog alerts!

….Those were the days of the LA Pea-Soupers!….

Perceptions and Pain

June 20, 2010

….I am not very good at perceiving when I am really getting sick….

Since the Wedding last Saturday, I have been suffering from a bout of severe lung pain, almost entirely on the right side, and through the week it has been becoming gradually more intolerable. By Wednesday I was pretty much in agony-it really hit me on Wednesday evening that I probably shouldn’t be ignoring it any more-although it took me until Friday afternoon to go to the Emergency Care Centre and get it x-rayed in case I had a small pneumothorax developing. I have never forgotten the Doctor who told me I was at risk of them due to the fact that I am tall and skinny as well as with my type of lung condition.

But even then I didn’t entirely give in of my own accord. It was obvious something was up as my results and daily stats (that I show in my RH Sidebar), were basically, in my boots. I had at least whacked up the Pred to try and rescue my ensuing splat, or flare as we like to say here. But I ran my thoughts past Steve, our epic guru and asthma God and he said I needed to be checked out because, and I quote, “it wasn’t usual for asthmatics to feel so much pain“. But there we have it in another nutshell. I am not a usual asthmatic. Who here is!

So it comes to my thoughts about perception. And I do hope Steve will put up a post that explains things his way-I have very poor perception of when my illness is radically taking a turn for the worst. I am not sure why. Is there a stigma, is there an embarrassment factor in this? I am usually the last person who will give in and let me be seen in the ER or A&E. I always think I know best and my numbers, however low they may seem, do not always register in body with my lungs feeling that totally terrible. I didn’t really feel as bad as red zone when I went to school on Friday-but I did by 2pm!

But now that I do know there is or was a reason for my rapid flare from Wednesday evening to Friday, as I’ve been diagnosed with Pleurisy. It is about as painful as having the fires of hell burning in the side of your lungs with a ripping, rasping, sandpapery feel to them, every movement has been hurting like a sore pinch and as for a cough or even a wheeze, no wonder my stats were so low I simply was in too much pain to breathe  much at all, let alone properly. I’m still being treated for a severe asthma attack too, bucket loads of Pred and 2 hourly nebs, but the truck load of antibiotics I am taking for the Pleurisy are sure helping quickly. Praise the Lord indeed!

….I fully intend to be feeling totally better by school on Wednesday. And I am dying to swim again!….

The Cavalry

June 17, 2010

….Ever piled all your nebuliser type equipment in to one place?….

Meet this severe lunger’s cavalry. A kind of respiratory hoard, comprising a mish mash of various sizes of nebs and mouthpieces (and masks in various drawers!), and of course, the newest member of the anti-asthma cavalry of equipment, my Personal Oxygen Concentrator. (Please Mr Airsep, would you read and maybe reply to my email of last week!)

For info, I have the following:

Medix World Traveller Nebuliser

Pari Turbo Boy S Travel Nebuliser

Omron Micro Air pocket Nebuliser

Airsep Freestyle Portable Oxygen Concentrator

I am happy to give advice to anybody being prescribed a home nebuliser, as to which I feel is the best for certain aspects of treatment. My favourite neb is the Medix World Traveller, or as J affectionately calls it, my “big, blue toilet!” It is a very fast and powerful compressor neb and has proved great for the hypertonic saline, which takes about 15 mins to neb through.

I also use a P.E.P. device attached to the mouthpieces, and mentioned in my meds page above, but that’s another post. You can see this device on the mouthpiece above on the right of the P.O.C.-it looks taller than the rest.

Don’t worry, not all that lot comes on holiday with me. These days the neb of choice I take is the Pari (Yellow submarine) one. And Baby Omron goes in my purse. But of course the P.O.C. will be coming everywhere with me now. However, I can remember the times I have passed through LHR with the big blue toilet in my carry-on bag! Heavy!

….Look Out!, lungs, the medical mist, it’s a-coming to beat you!

My Ears Were Blown Away!

June 16, 2010

….This poster, also, literally blew me away!….

“Nothing is more powerful than music.

In a single note it has the ability to make you laugh, cry, dance, even take you back to an exact moment in time”

I saw this poster at the Technology Show we went to yesterday afternoon. It grabbed me, for obvious reasons. And we went in to the little auditorium to have a demo of some fab new equipment (I think it was the JVC 950 projector system). It was superb-the black colours were amazing in the trailer, (we saw-Batman 2 The Dark Knight). And as for the sound system-my ears are still ringing and humming-vibrations right through my body-and even me making me cough like using a Flutter device!

So I was sitting there spell bound after the demo, and one of the Exhibitors came and asked me if I was ‘ok’ (‘Yes’) and was I ‘a CO2 Retainer’ (So I said, ‘Yes, kind of’!) And he continued to talk to me for a few minutes about his Mother who has to wear oxygen as she is a CO2 Retainer. Then he gave me a pat on the back and called me ‘love’. Eugh! I Hate That. It was a perfectly friendly and reasonable conversation until he started getting all “Poor You” about me. I repeat, Eugh! But it was still nice that somebody recognised the nose hose as a good and helpful thing. I try to think it is no worse than wearing glasses all the time (seeing as I have contacts!)

There were other fun things too, lots of freebies (See Day 15 of my Project 365), and lots of nibbles, drinks, demos and luckily for me, quiet areas to sit-and sneak a swift neb with my Omron pocket neb!

And I even got to stand next to The Stig, when he was watching a Panasonic 3D demo….dig Stig’s 3D glasses!!

All in all we had a thoroughly fun afternoon out in London, apart from the airless train ride home and our 2 lines being closed to due a worst case scenario (passenger under a train) so we had to detour round the moon and back, taking 2 hours!

….My legs were so crampy last night that I had to drink a whole litre bottle of  tonic water!….

How does an Oxygen Concentrator work?

June 15, 2010

….People keep asking me this question….

Therefore, because, unlike my Father, Sister and Brother, I am not a scientist, and unlike Julian, I am not an Engineer, I have trawled the web and found this which makes it pretty understandable even for a little blonde thing like me!


How an Oxygen Concentrator Works

Oxygen concentrators make use of adsorption, a phenomenon in which gas molecules stick temporarily to surfaces. Some molecules stick better than others to each surface, a fact that makes it possible to use adsorption to separate various molecules from one another. The heart of an oxygen concentrator is a porous material called zeolite. With a vast
network of tiny holes, zeolite resembles a miniature Swiss cheese, and presents an enormous amount of surface area on which gas molecules can adsorb. Nitrogen molecules stick more often to zeolite than oxygen molecules because
nitrogen molecules bind more strongly to the zeolite surface than do oxygen molecules. Zeolites tend to concentrate oxygen in the air by removing most of the nitrogen molecules. An oxygen concentrator takes in room air, passes the air through a filter to remove any dust particles and raises the air to a pressure of 20 pounds psi by a compressor (see
Figure 1). To extract as much nitrogen as possible, the pressurized air is pumped into a canister containing zeolite (often called “sieve bed”). The zeolites adsorb most of the nitrogen from this air, leaving nearly pure oxygen forbreathing. After about 20 seconds, the zeolites become saturated with nitrogen and cannot extract any more. At this point, a solenoid valve opens to reduce the pressure on the canister to atmospheric pressure, and the nitrogen begins to be released prior
to beginning another cycle. This canister switching process is under electronic control. Some oxygen concentrators employ microprocessors and actual oxygen sensing circuitry that monitors the oxygen percentage in the air and detects when the output gets too low. To keep oxygen flowing at all times, a typical oxygen concentrator has two separate
zeolite-filled canisters. At any given time, one canister is providing oxygen for breathing, while the other is regenerating by releasing its stored nitrogen into the air.

….That made fun reading, huh!