Sunday, August 23, 2009

H. O. T.


As in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. I’ve had three treatments so far, 17 more to go. It’s been, shall we say, challenging. In short, let’s put it this way -- I will never become a SCUBA diver.

In HOT you are placed in an airtight glass tube and breath 100% oxygen (usually we breath about 20%) while at the same time you are under greater than normal atmospheric pressure. It can increase the oxygen levels in your body tissues which better enables new blood vessels to grow and can also help treat/prevent infections by supporting white blood cells.

The language the hyperbaric doctors and nurses use is very much like that used by divers -- they talk about taking you down to a level of thus & such feet, but of course you are not actually moving, it’s just referring to the amount of pressure.

My biggest problem has been with my ears. During your descent (again, not really moving) you are supposed to clear your ears…swallowing, yawning, pinching your nose and gently blowing, that sort of thing. Some people can do it a few times and be done with it. Not me – they have to descend me slower than usual and I have to clear my ears vigorously during my entire descent (about 20 minutes). Once I’m down to the right level I lay there watching TV and trying to hear it above the constant whooshing noise of the air. I stay like that for 90 minutes. After that they bring me up slowly again and my ears sound like Rice Krispies on steroids (normal)…but unfortunately they don’t quite fully clear. The doctor examines my ears each time, and each time they are red and have bubbles behind the eardrums. I’ve been repeatedly assured by the hyperbaric doctors and my own private ENT that my ears are in no real danger; it’s just very uncomfortable…like the congestion one might have with a wicked cold. By the time it starts to go away I am back for another session.

Another challenge is that I already have chronic tinnitus. It’s a long story I’ll tell someday but at its onset I was driven nearly insane by the constant ringing, so much so that it drove me to therapy. I managed to overcome it but this process makes it a bit of an issue again so I’m having some anxiety problems as well (as if I didn’t already!)

Not to toot my own horn, but the doctor who runs the hyperbaric program said I was one tough cookie – and since I usually don’t see myself that way I took it as a compliment.

The other challenge is that this place is quite the commute, 45min to get there and about an hour to come home since I hit rush hour traffic. When you add it all up it takes at least 3.5 hours out of my day. I now have a part time job – healing this wound has taken over a huge chunk of my life to say the least.

But bottom line, I am grateful to have the opportunity to do this. It will help to speed my healing which is crucial since I can’t start chemo until this wound is completely healed. The more things I can do to encourage healing, the better. And despite the hassle and challenges I think this therapy is really very interesting and could be promising for a lot of people with various medical problems, so I hope that by sharing this little smattering of info it helps someone else who may need it :)

12 comments:

Brenda said...

Cancer is so much work! And expensive. Good for you for taking such good care of yourself. I hope all this effort pays off for you.

JJ said...

How fascinating. I look forward to hearing your positive results. I wish I had thought of that!

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

This is the strangest therapy I've ever heard of. I took scuba lessons a long time ago and I would have trouble with my ears as well. I remember that crackly sound too. At least you get to watch TV.

notSupermum said...

Well, we already knew you were a tough cookie!

I've never heard of this treatment before, but it sounds very uncomfortable. I hope it gets easier somehow, the more sessions you have. Just remember, each one is one more nearer to the last one.
Hugs to you x

pksarna said...

Interesting to read your review of the HOT. May I ask, is this covered by your insurance?

I've been following along Kayleigh, and wishing you rapid improvement. Its a long road, but you're going to get through this and come out the other end, wiser and healthier.

Puja

Imogen Lamport said...

Glad you're able to do something to promote the healing. Hope it happens quickly for you!

Kayleigh said...

Thanks so much all!

Brenda -- yes it is, and I don't know how folks w/o good insurance (or any for that matter) deal with this. I'm glad your chemo is over, btw...been following your blog all along, just haven't had time to comment.

JJ -- thanks, it IS fascinating, huh? Of course one will never actually know for sure how much it helps since it's hard to quantify something like that, but it sure can't hurt, lol.

Tessa...strange indeed! If my mother hadn't done it for her own wound issues I probably wouldn't have thought of it. It is good I can watch TV but I just wish there was more on than soaps, talk shows and the like ;)

notSupermum -- "Just remember, each one is one more nearer to the last one." -- I think I'm going to make that my new mantra, you are just so damn wise :D It is uncomfortable but at least it's not painful...and I'm also not particularly claustrophobic so that's not an issue. Michael came with me once and took one look at the tank and said "no way!". Who da man now, huh, lol?

pksarna -- yes, I'm VERY lucky, my insurance is covering this. We've got good insurance and DH has a good solid job (union worker)...that's not to say they've covered every cent of all the MANY doctors I saw prior to surgery. Nope, we've paid out a pretty penny too. But all in all we've had the means to take care of me and for that I am HUGELY grateful. It also makes me worry for every single woman that doesn't have the same resources. Thank you so much for your lovely well wishes, too :)

Imogen, thank you so much....me too!!! The quicker the better all the way 'round.

Thanks again everyone!

Sheila said...

Wow, I've never heard of that (aside from Michael Jackson using one). It sounds terrifying.

That doctor is right - you ARE one tough cookie! Don't sell yourself short.

Get better soon, hon.

Kayleigh said...

Hi Sheila -- thanks :)

Yup, me and MJ, lol.

Actually I heard that he used it after that burn he got doing that soda commercial which is one of the top uses for this therapy. But he also clearly had plastic surgery and perhaps it went bad too. I'm not a big follower of the whole story but you practically can't turn on the TV w/o hearing something. I thought I heard he had necrosis on the tip of his nose...so much so that he wore a prosthesis. Makes me wonder if the HOT was to try and fight that.

Who knows, I'm just glad I can manage it and hope it helps me.

Thanks again :)

Karen said...

Kayleigh, I'm a diver, I know what you're feeling in your ears. The tinnitus worries me though...I know it can make you crazy.

Chuck Dilmore said...

yes...
i love when you say "healing!"

and they're right...
you are one tough cookie!

beautiful, Kayleigh.
daily prayers and energies to you~
Chuck

The Writing Instinct said...

You certainly are one TOUGH cookie! You have come such a long way. Keep those 'healing' thoughts.

BTW I too suffer from tinnitis and it is no fun at the best of times. Going up and down a slight mountain is bad enough so I cannot even imagine having even more atmospheric pressure exerted on my ears. You are a real champion.

Thinking of you, always
Mervat
xxoo