Living with Ralph

Life can get interesting with Ralph. That’s the name of the tube that connects my cannula to the concentrator. Cuz told me I had to name it and that it would need to be a man’s name because it follows me wherever I go.

Invacare PlatinumThe tubing is 50′ long so I can go from one end of the house to the other. I just have to remember to go back the way I came or I can get all wound up. No more circling through one end of the kitchen and out the other. The concentrator lives by the front door and that’s a little more to the right of the center of the house but close enough.

Then there’s the bed. Get too close to it on my way through the living room and I can be pulled up short if the connector gets caught on the wheel. If I’m not wearing the headband and my ears are supporting the cannula, it can be very painful.

Standing up is another thing. I have to be conscious of where my feet are. If one is planted on the tubing, I can get halfway up before I’m stopped in a crouch.

Walking for a distance means having enough free tubing to do it. If it gets caught on anything or is wound up around itself, I might have to backtrack to free it up and continue on.

Going out to feed the Catz is a process. Standing by the front door, I coil the tubing at least 10 or 11 times, open the storm door and drop the coil on the deck. Then I fill the container and go out to fill the bowls. That done and Catz petted, I head back to the house. Holding the door open with my butt, I put down the container and coil the tubing again. This time, I drop it on the floor and hope it doesn’t get tangled.

Every day or two, I go over the length of the tubing to make sure there are no places that have folded in on themselves. It’s happened before and the concentrator is supposed to sound an alarm if the flow is cut off so it must not cut it off completely since the alarm has only sounded when I turn the concentrator on. It only gets turned off when I’m cleaning the filter. It’s a piece of foam that’s supposed to trap Stuff and keep it out of my air supply. I vacuum it and then wash it with soapy water, wring as much of the water out as possible, roll it up with a paper towel and when it’s almost dry, put it back in and turn the machine on. That’s when it gives a high pitched “BEEP!!”

I learned, early on, to hold the tubing in my hand and pull it along rather than trying to pull it with my head. Sometimes it’s hard to carry things because one hand always has to have the tubing.

Getting up at night and going to the bathroom in the dark can be interesting but I’ve learned to pick up my feet. There’s no way I want to trip and fall when Cuz is an hour away.

Portable_Oxygen_Tank_with_BagThere’s the matter of George. George is the portable oxygen tank and gear that it takes for me to venture beyond the 50′ allowed by the tubing. It’s a pain in the patooty. It has a life span of about two hours if I’m lucky and the tank has been filled to capacity. Then there’s the chance that a spark or something else flammable will get to it and blow me to kingdom come.

Cuz and my CIL can operate George. I’m sure I could, too, if I applied myself but I don’t want to. What I really want is to trade George in on a portable concentrator like this one. That’s what the DME supplier said they won’t dispense because my insurance doesn’t pay enough. I still need to get in touch with my doctor and ask him to order it as a rental. That’s what the case worker at Humana said for me to do. With that, I could conceivably work my way up to walking to the mailbox and back. I wouldn’t fool with George to do that.

It was a revelation to Cuz that portable concentrators exist. I’d seen a man with one at the Mother Ship and he was moving on at a good clip. The concentrator was on his left hip and, I guess, it was somehow fastened on his belt. When I got home, I’d looked them up and I’ve wanted one ever since. The day Cuz found out about them was the last time I went to see the pulmonologist. There were two of us with Georges and the third oxygen sniffer had the portable concentrator. I knew what it was but the other sniffer asked about it. The lady told her it plugged into the wall or the lighter plug in the car to charge. Cuz was amazed.

Not really early this morning, the phone rang and woke me. It was my friend from church. She said she was going to Chattanooga and did I need anything? I wish I’d known before so I could’ve given her my watch to have a battery put in. By that time, it was too late. I told her I still had the teacher’s quarterly she’d loaned me and that I’d need to swap for a regular one when it’s picked up. She told me one of the couples from church want to visit but they were still a bit under the weather and didn’t want to make me sick. I appreciated that. I don’t want to get any sicker than I already am.

Cuz and the rest came home this afternoon to be here through the weekend. When I told her about the impending visit, she said her sister had told her the pastor wants to visit me, too. I guess I can look forward to coughing sessions all the way around. That’s what I did a lot of when we were trying to talk.

She brought me some zucchini and a cucumber from her garden at the other house. She let the yellow zucchini get normal size so I’ll have several meals out of it. The cucumber is a small one of the burpless variety. She said it was soft but it feels about right to me. There are three of the zucchini and four crookneck squash. I won’t have to worry about fresh veggies.

I spent some time installing PaintShop Pro X8. It’s a big program so that took a while. Now I’ll have to familiarize myself with a whole new program that looks nothing whatsoever like X3. It’s supposed to do everything but wash dishes and mop floors so I have high hopes.

Next time she came over, I was in the kitchen making soup. It was egg free noodles, kale I’d frozen and garbanzos. I flavored it with Harvest2000 chicken flavored bouillon. I ordered it direct from the company and got it for a whole lot less. After it had cooked, I added some hing (asafetida). BTW, if you read the reviews, you’ll find there aren’t really good reasons for most of the ones giving low ratings. After I threw it in, I offered to let Cuz smell the container of hing but she begged off. She said she could smell it fine from where she stood.

I’d asked her for her sun visor the other day. She presented it this afternoon and said I might have to adjust it bigger since her head is small. If I hadn’t had the cannula on, it would have probably fallen around my neck when I set it on my head. The reason I wanted it was to see how it would do with my Ear Buddies before I invested in one for myself. She said I need to wear it and take another selfie. That’s for another time. Not tonight.

She’d already put in a full day. Her construction partner had to go for an MRI this afternoon plus she’d had to load everything up to move here for a couple of days. When she left, she said she had to find something else to do or she’d go to sleep. She did. It wasn’t long before I heard (and felt) the lawn mower going.

It was already dark when she came in for the last time. Of course, I was coughing more than talking. It does get so tiresome. I told her I was thinking about getting an air purifier. I have one of the ionizers but it quit working years ago and is pretty much just taking up space on top of the fridge. Both Cuz and her partner have worked on it but neither one could fix it. I’ve noticed I don’t cough as much when I’m away from the house as I do here so it may be that only part of it is reflux.

Speaking of reflux, I’ve put a live stream on my calendar for June 17. Since the crusade is in California, it will be two hours later TT. The name of the session is Acid Reflux: What You Don’t Know. Maybe I’ll learn something but I’m pretty much familiar with all the ins and outs.

Cuz wanted to know if she needed to change the bed tomorrow. I assured her I can do it. If I could manage flipping and rotating the mattress last week AND changing the bed, I think I can handle it. Mother used to say, “Let me do what I can while I can.” I’m beginning to understand. I may have to stop and rest but I’ll get ‘er done.

My CIL is going to do the shopping AND he doesn’t mind price matching. I made the list for both the Dollar Tree and Walmart. Cuz took wrappers and labels for some things plus the ads and I’m sure she’ll school him on how to pick good blueberries. As for the cantaloupe and watermelon, they can be an unknown quantity until they’re cut. My sister got a very unripe one from ALDI. She said she couldn’t find a phone number (they don’t publish one) but she’d try to get a replacement next week. I sent her the link for their double guarantee.

When I fed the Catz this morning, I was able to get closer to Gray than I ever have before. As soon as it noticed, though, it bolted. Cuz and I talked about Black Tom this afternoon and she said she didn’t want me paying for the neutering because, technically, he’s her cat. I told her I feel like they are half mine because I feed them most of the time. She agreed with that. We left it with I’ll call the vet and find out how much it costs. If she took him to the place where they got the females spayed, it could be a month or two before it would be scheduled. By that time, he could be torn limb from limb by some competing tom cat.

I’m having to stop and cough — a lot. When I’m coughing, I can’t type. This is already too long so I’ll break it off here. Later, dudes and dudettes.

4 Responses to Living with Ralph

  1. Mary Jane Graves June 10, 2016 at 6:35 am #

    Oh for the energy that “Cuz” has!

    • Tommie June 10, 2016 at 9:22 am #

      I disagree. She’s fueled by Mountain Dew.

  2. Lila June 10, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    I am amazed at the price of the portable oxygen tank, if that is the right term. I wonder how much money goes into manufacturing it. Maybe you could set up a Gofundme and get rid of all that tubing. Seems to work for other people!

    • Tommie June 10, 2016 at 10:08 am #

      It’s “portable concentrator”. I already have the portable tanks. It wouldn’t take the place of Ralph. I’d still be tethered at home. It would make it handier to get OUT of the house. I’ll try getting it through Humana first. Gofundme works for some and not for others.

      I have no idea as far as the cost of manufacturing is concerned. I do know it’s a sophisticated little machine. It has to do all the big one does and just as fast so it doesn’t last as long. You can find out how they work here if you’re interested.

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