The Oxygen Balancing Act and My New Toy

Since the last update, I have acquired a new toy. I am not sure why I have never had one of these, but I now have my own pulse-oximeter. This is especially helpful at night. I have tried to go all night without oxygen to avoid the headaches. So far this has totally prevented the headaches. The only problem, is that I was concerned about how low my oxygen blood saturation level would drop by doing so. There were times that I could feel my oxygen level dropping too low, making it difficult to breath.


I tried to buy one of these while in FL. The pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens do not carry them. A home health equip provider said I would need a prescription and the cost was about $180. This seemed a bit ridiculous, so when I got back to Nashville, someone told me to google oximeters. Duh! Walgreen’s Online for $30, free shipping, and now I have my very own.


On high oxygen flow (3 or 4 liters) I can get my O2 sat up to 97 or 98.  That is the level of a normal healthy person. On the prescribed level of 2 liters, my sat is about 92 to 95. Still good. When it gets below 90, the doctors tell me that the heart is at risk. If I exert myself, my O2 sat will drop into the 80’s, and I can definitely feel the difference. Last year such a drop would sideline me for hours and take more than a half hour to recover while on oxygen. Knowing what 81 and 82 feel like after exertion, I am quite sure, that toward the end of 2010 and up until June of this year, minor exertion was knocking my O2 sat to the low 80’s and often below 80.


Now, 2 months post stem cells, exertion can still knock me to the low 80’s, but with oxygen, I can get my O2 sat back to the mid 90’s in less than 5 minutes, and within 15 minutes be back up and moving. The difference in recovery is amazing.


All that said, I was curious about the O2 levels while sleeping off-oxygen.  I have attached 2 pics showing my oximeter. One at rest on oxygen. The other at rest off oxygen. Off oxygen, I can maintain an O2 level above 90 for about 20 or 30 minutes, but as my breathing slows down, the O2 level sometimes drops into the low 80’s.  The physical sensation is deceptive as I do not feel the same as when exertion causes the drop. So I have to be careful at night. I now keep the oxygen running with the tube by my pillow. By switching on and off oxygen, I can get good sleep while avoiding the headaches, but it is a balancing act.  If I put on the oxygen and fall asleep that way, the headaches will wake me up before too long. I try to hit the oxygen for just a few minutes several times during the night. The right balance is giving me some pretty good and restful nights of sleep.


O2 sat level is the top number





I love my new toy.

July 12, 2011


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