The official blog of the Lung Institute.
When you were first diagnosed with emphysema, you never really thought about the long term—the future. It seemed so far away, and the danger added pressure to your present days. Then as life got more complicated and you realized that your condition was progressive, it dawned on you that things weren’t going to just get better on their own.
Within a few months of your diagnosis, it was becoming impossible to even walk from the mailbox to your front door, let alone walking through the grocery store on your own. Whenever you tried to exert your energy, you quickly became winded and dizzy. The lightheaded feeling just wouldn’t go away. Despite all your efforts, you just couldn’t shake it. Finally, you decided to make a dreaded call to your pulmonologist.
That was the last time you went a day without supplemental oxygen.
At first, you were bitter. The idea of having to drag around a tank anywhere you went was terrifying, but the possibility of limiting yourself to only your house was worse. You thought it would be an additional hindrance in your life. Moreover, you were self-conscious about strapping a backpack of oxygen on or toting a cart around everywhere you go. You’d be different. You would no longer just be you, but the person with the oxygen tank. You were an anomaly.
Life wasn’t quite the same. The ambiance of any surrounding would be filled with the familiar churn of the air releasing through the tubing—a personal soundtrack that followed you everywhere. Between the tubing, the noise and the cart, it was impossible not to stand out. You found that some people who used to speak with you avoided any contact, and small children looked at you in confusion.
Pretty soon, you realized it wasn’t your fault. You were living your life, and what other people thought didn’t matter. The ability to go out and do the things you dream about and the things you want to spend your life experiencing was worth every weird look. You became fearless. With oxygen came confidence, and with confidence came the ability to accept your condition and your life.
Quickly, your oxygen tank became your best friend, rather than your greatest nightmare. Every morning, your oxygen tank became your final accessory. You no longer looked at the backpack with disdain but with graciousness. It was this little machine that made it possible to open the door and experience the world. It was this little machine that made living possible.
Youtube video created by CLAHRC NWL.
While you continued on your journey to breathing easier, you learned that—despite the supplemental oxygen—you weren’t going to get any better. It would make life possible, but it wouldn’t make living longer. Eventually, you decided you wanted more. You didn’t give up your oxygen, but you searched for more options. You searched for a way to breathe easier.
If you or a loved one is using supplemental oxygen as a result of a chronic lung disease, you may have more options. You may have a treatment option that can help you breathe easier. The Lung Institute offers stem cell therapy that may help improve the damaged lung tissue in a patient, which makes life better and breathing easier. For more information, contact the Lung Institute at (800) 729-3065.