Why I’m connected to my portable concentrator most of the day

The tubing on my stationary device is good for some things, awful for others

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by Caroline Gainer |

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Oxygen therapy is required for many of us with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). My column’s name, in fact, comes from my need to be connected to an oxygen concentrator. I have an Inogen G4 Hip Bag to carry my portable version; it’s pricey, but worth it for me.

I usually change to my portable concentrator from the stationary one after I get dressed, brush my teeth, comb my hair, and put on a little makeup in the morning. I make the shift for several reasons, the main one being the 50 feet of tubing on the stationary version.

When thinking about that tubing, I’m reminded of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 (“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”), only with slightly different wording: “Oxygen tubing, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.”

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My public debut tethered to my portable personal oxygen device

The troubles of tubing

The tubing connected to the stationary concentrator in my house is always getting underfoot, getting caught on objects and becoming knotted up and kinked. I’ve learned to wind it up as I go toward the concentrator and unwind it as I move away, but sometimes I need my hands free. Problems arise, though, when I’m not tending the tubing.

It’s exasperating to operate a corded sweeper while connected to the stationary concentrator. The tubing and the electrical cord get tangled together and become knotted in ways that can’t be explained logically. The learning curve from this frustration does have an upside: I’ve learned to untangle my neck chains much more easily now.

There’s nothing to compare to the feeling when the tubing is caught on something when I’m hurrying to the bathroom, making my head snap back and the cannula become dislodged from my nose.

My insurance company performs a safety check in my home and points out potential hazards. My oxygen tubing makes the list because it can trip me. If you’re on oxygen, you’ll understand that the tubing has an uncanny affinity for your ankles, and it’s quite difficult to shake loose.

Many times I’ve been working away and wondered why I’m becoming short of breath. When that happens, I check my oxygen saturation; if it’s low, I try to determine why by removing the cannula from my nose and allowing it to blow against my upper lip or tongue. If I don’t feel oxygen coming through the cannula, I check my connections. And that’s when I usually find that the tubing has become unhooked from the concentrator, or the connection between the two 25-foot pieces is gone.

The many problems with the oxygen tubing on my stationary device are why I choose to wear my portable concentrator during the day. It gets in the way when I’m bathing and sleeping, though; for those two activities, I’m grateful to have the stationary version.

Note: COPD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of COPD News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


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