• We wish you and yours a very happy, healthy Thanksgiving!
  • Have you heard of Avian or Bird Flu?
  • Do you find yourself looking up at every flock of birds flying overhead and shudder with memories of Alfred Hitchcock? To get the straight scoop, go to the end of this newsletter and read what Dr. Tom has to say. We know that anyone smart enough to subscribe to this newsletter will already have gotten their flu shot for this year, since the old fashioned flu right now is a greater immediate threat to those with pulmonary disease than is the potential threat of bird flu. But, just in case you haven't yet gotten around to it, call your doctor right now for an ASAP appointment! A word of warning. Flu shots do not protect you against all flu. And they do not offer total protection from any flu. However, even if you are unlucky enough to come down with the flu, despite having gotten a protective shot, it should be a milder case rather than that life threatening disease that causes so many deaths each year. And just to be on the safe side, carry around a bottle of hand sanitizers, or handy wipes, and follow the all the other suggestions of Dr. Tom.

  • We, and all of our readers, offer our sympathies
  • Condolences and best wishes to those of you who were involved in either of the hurricanes that devastated the Southeastern United States and the Gulf Coast. If you have any stories of how you managed to overcome some of the problems you had to deal with we would like to share them with other readers.

  • Oxygen concentrators and loss of power
  • Many of our patients on oxygen concentrators have expressed concern, and fear, about the effect a loss of power might have on them. There have been stories, exaggerated by the newspapers, suggesting that patients on concentrators or oxygen are in serious danger. Some articles even suggested heading for the nearest fire station or hospital in the event of a black out. Not necessary, folks and your local fire department begs you not to even consider it!

    Even if you don't have a back-up tank of oxygen just about every one of you, unless you are on a ventilator and totally unable to breathe, can get by for much, much longer than you realize without supplemental oxygen.

    Ventilator patients are a different matter, but by law these patients always have stand-by emergency equipment in case of a power failure. These patients should also notify local police and fire departments that they are on a ventilator. Their oxygen company also should put them first on the list of patients to help immediately. But again, this is not considered necessary for those on oxygen concentrators.

    Craig Murga, RRT, a Manager of Lincare, gave us some other disaster tips for the Second Wind back in 2002 that deserve repeating.

    Gas Generators:

    Some patients have purchased gas-powered generators to alleviate their anxiety. In many parts of the country it is an annual event to experience long-term power interruptions because of blizzards, electrical storms, or flooding. The recent hurricanes have made all of us aware of the need to prepare for a natural disaster.

    Gas-powered generators are wonderful when it comes to running a light bulb. But, because of the low output on most generators, typically they are insufficient to run a concentrator. Also, generators tend to constantly cycle, causing concentrators to blow fuses. So, if you're going to use a generator to run a concentrator, make sure it works, and find out where the reset button is located on the concentrator.

    Then there's the problem of storing gasoline for the generator. How much gas do you store? Can you store it in a safe location away from any heat source? How often do you rotate your supply? Gasoline does go bad!

  • Financial Help
  • Do all of you who use concentrators know that by contacting your local electrical company you will get a rate reduction in your electricity costs? This is true for all electrically driven medical equipment including nebulizers and electrical beds. If you live in a hot climate and your doctor feels you need air conditioning, even that may be eligible for a refund. If you have not done so already, call today and request information about the Medical Baseline form. This may have a different name in different parts of the country, but all electrical companies should have a similar program.

    If you are on a concentrator you can help yourself by always maintaining a sufficient stock of cylinder gas to see you through an extended power failure. If you use 2 LPM (liters per minute), three E-cylinders will give you about 18 hours of oxygen. By reducing the oxygen flow to 1 LPM you will get approximately 25 hours of oxygen usage. If you think you might be without oxygen replacements longer than that, try turning the flow down to 1/2 lpm or even turning it off when you are at rest. If you have an oximeter you can titrate your oxygen, not using it unless you go below 89% or 88% saturation.

    You may have forgotten this, but I'll bet many of you probably qualified for oxygen many months before you started using it. Remember this, and more importantly remember that you not only survived, but you probably resisted using oxygen when it was first prescribed for you! Don't panic and you will probably be fine until you get your oxygen supply again. Remember, most oxygen users can go without oxygen for moderate periods of time without suffering major debilitating effects.
  • PLB
  • Also remember that, properly done, in some people pursed lip breathing can bring your oxygen level as high as 2 lpm of oxygen can. This is the time to learn good breathing techniques, if you have not already done so. (If you have an oximeter, try using it to improve your breathing techniques by monitoring your improved oxygen saturations.) Confidence in your breathing techniques will help you prevent panic.
  • Disaster Plan
  • Have you planed on an alternative location to which you could relocate in the event of a disaster? Notify your oxygen supplier in advance of this other location so that they can find you if the occasion arises. All oxygen suppliers should have a disaster plan policy in place to prepare for the inevitable. If you are unaware of your company's policy ask them to send you a written copy. Take a few moments to prepare a disaster kit to be kept in a safe area.

  • Include a particle mask if you are prone to bronchospasm from dust.
  • Have an extra inhaler and medications in the kit. When you store medications be aware of the expiration dates on your meds since you will need to rotate them on a regular basis.
  • You should also have a portable radio with long life batteries stored separately to help you find relocation centers if necessary. A radio also helps you connect with the rest of your community, which reduces the level of stress, one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
  • Don't forget a few bottles of water and some easy to eat food.

  • You can find more information on disaster preparedness by checking the front pages of your phone book, contacting your city hall, or checking with your local chapter of the American Red Cross or American Lung Association as well as your oxygen provider.