Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Think It Just Means I’m Really Out of Shape

So for the last three days I haven't been using my oxygen when I'm at home. Not only that, if I'm pretty sure I won't have to walk up any steep hills (read: starting with a grade barely noticeable to the naked eye), I don't even take Moxy. For example, we went to Tilth last night and Moxy stayed home (poor thing—it was an excellent dinner). We ate out at Carmelita last Saturday and I likewise didn't have Moxy, and I was wearing my wig (not the blue one), and it was actually a little weird to look perfectly normal.

A friend took me to the Witch Doctor today and convinced me that Moxy should come, just in case, but she (I guess Moxy is a she—why not?) stayed in the car the whole time. The friend came in.

When the oxygen-filling guy called yesterday morning to check on the levels in my tank (it had been the usual week), it was between 2/3 and 3/4 full, so we told him to come back in a week. My cheeks still feel strangely chilly and bare without the nasal cannula tubes constantly digging into them.

This evening was a real test, though. I went with Ian on a walk with the dogs, and we decided to walk down, then up Burke. Now, Burke has a definite grade, visible even with the naked eye. In fact, our house is midway up a relatively significant hill. The walks that I've taken in the past that I've written about here, the 10 blocks from my massage to L&S's house, those walks have been mostly level. Anyway, Moxy still had some air from the trip this afternoon, so I turned her on and brought her along. My oxygen levels on the way down the street seemed to be at about 93 or 94, with occasional dips down to 92 or jumps up to 96 or 97. To do an experiment, and since I was going downhill, I turned off Moxy. The levels stayed the same.

To extend the experiment, I decided to leave Moxy off as we started back up the other side. My heart rate quickly went up to 160, which is a relatively acceptable level if you're exercising pretty hard. My oxygen levels, however, stayed pretty much where they were on the way down—ranging from 93-96. So I turned Moxy on to 2 liters and continued trudging up the hill. And you know, to my surprise, my oxygen levels stayed basically the same, as did my heart rate.

Now, I suppose if I'd turned Moxy up to 3 or 4 my oxygen levels might have climbed higher, but 93-96 is a pretty okay range, particularly if I'm also exercising. Yes, 95 and up is normal, but 93 means my supplemental oxygen will be taken away soon. I'm not entirely upset about the prospect.

I am a little upset by how immediately I was short of breath climbing a very, very slight hill, though. My strength moving around the house and going to and from my numerous lunch dates has been so much like normal that I keep being surprised by how stairs get me, and how even minor hills get me. The evidence of this evening's oxygen saturation levels seems to imply that when my heart is pounding and I'm breathing hard, it really is an out-of-shape thing, no longer a lack-of-oxygen thing.

Much as I've grown to like Moxy, she is heavy. At this point, after this evening's experiments, if I have to be carrying her up hills I think she really might be more of a liability than a benefit.

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