The Challenge of Traveling with Oxygen
As a pulmonary fibrosis patient, I try to stay as active as possible. But as my disease has progressed, it has been harder and harder to travel. Just a few days ago, my husband and I traveled 400 miles to see my 94-year-old father whose health is failing. The trip was really hard to do, but seeing my father was worth it. I’m still recovering.
I use 8 liters per minute of supplemental oxygen. To travel, I need to bring two liquid oxygen tanks in my car. These tanks provide me oxygen to use in the car and allow me to fill my portable oxygen tanks. When I’m at the hotel, I use my oxygen concentrator. The picture to the right shows my backseat with the two tanks, the concentrator, and one of my portable tanks and cart.
Traveling really wears me out and I can only tolerate sitting in the car for four hours at a time. We took two days to drive to see my dad, and two days to get back home, plus some time to visit. While we were there, we also were able to see my sister, our son, and a good friend.
All the details came together, for which I am so grateful. The result is I’m tired — very tired. We’ve been home two days, and I am worn out. I’ve barely left my recliner, and can’t imagine leaving home anytime soon.
I pushed myself to see my dad, because I wanted to see him before he passes on, and I didn’t know how much longer I could make a trip like this. I used to be able to fly with a portable oxygen concentrator, which would have made this trip a lot easier. Now that I am using oxygen at such a high level, there are no portable oxygen concentrators that function at high enough elevations for me to be able to fly.
One option of traveling with oxygen is having your oxygen provider deliver a concentrator and oxygen tanks to you wherever you are staying. That is a good option but makes me nervous. I’ve had spotty success doing this in the past. I prefer to bring what I need with me if possible, but it is a lot of extra work, especially for my husband who had to haul the heavy concentrator in and out of the car every day.
It’s gotten to where I really need to evaluate what type of travel I’m willing to do because it is such an expenditure of my energy. Besides the actual travel, a lot of effort goes into getting ready beforehand and unpacking after. My suitcase still isn’t unpacked.
Last May, I did a fundraiser to hire an air ambulance to take my husband and me to our son’s wedding 2,000 miles away. That was one of the happiest moments of my life, and I am forever grateful to those who gave so I could be there. Here’s a link to a column I wrote about it with all the details and pictures. I’m smiling just thinking about it.
This trip was worth all the effort, and I’m glad I went. I doubt there will be much travel in the future, if at all. My encouragement to you is to really think about any trips you’d like to take, and do them soon if at all possible. Our health can change fast, so seize the moment while you can!
I’d love to hear from you
What are your experiences traveling with oxygen? What are some tips that make traveling easier? What jumped out at you from this post?
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