Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oxygen, gifts and tears

It arrived! I braved the steady rain to pick up Beth’s brand new Inogen One Portable Oxygen concentrator yesterday afternoon. It’s a great little machine – much quieter than the Evergo we had borrowed for the Seattle trip. Here are most of the components – the machine, the power supply, a carry bag and the cart it fits on for people who would walk with it.

What’s not displayed are the adapter to use the machine in a vehicle (via the cigarette lighter) or on an airplane. These I have but weren’t picture worthy. What I am also missing is the second battery and external power charger which were ordered but not included. So, I’ve got another phone call to make, sigh!

Here’s Beth breaking the machine in, while sitting at her computer.

The top and hoodie she is wearing are two of the great finds from our Seattle shopping trip and I think she looks hot it them. You should see the new jeans hiding under my grandma's afghan - very sexy. Hot clothes aside, every time I take a picture of Beth I am struck by how much weight she has lost - mostly in her face - and it makes me sad to see her wasting away.

Right now we’ve got the concentrator beside her which is a good thing as with the old concentrator being in a separate room, she would ask me to turn it on and I would forget and Beth would be working for hours while her fingers were getting more and more purple and white. With the Inogen being much quieter she now has the power!

While reading the manual – I know, I’m one of the weird ones who actually reads manuals – they mentioned a satellite setting. Umm, satellite? What happens – can it beam oxygen to you? Well, I kept reading and basically it’s like a pager which allows you to be in a different room from the unit and turn it on and off and adjust the settings from the comfort of your chair. The satellite accessory is the conduit between the extension tubing (up to 25 feet) and the cannula tubing which she breathes through. I may have to look into this accessory in the future.

In other news… we’ve received many gifts from you, our readers, over the last few weeks and I just wanted to say a great big thank you to all. I’ve devoured my cheesy romances over the last two weeks. I have little discipline when it comes to them so end up staying up half the night reading – occasionally Beth ends up telling me to go to bed. Talk about role reversal!

The MP3 player arrived on the day our one remaining MP3 player gave up the ghost. This caused a lot of stress in our household as the MP3 is used on a daily basis when the sounds of life are too much on Beth’s sensitive ears. While we were opening packages the neighbours were making a lot of noise next door. Beth was able to download the songs onto the new MP3 quickly which rescued Beth from the noise, removed the panic and reduced the urgency in fixing the old one. (Beth was later able to revive it so we have a zombie MP3 as backup.)

We also got some great supplies for the postcard project – rubber stamps, postcards and stickers. We will continue to post the items we need the most for the project. We have a huge selection of general postcards and stickers which readers have donated. So much in fact, that I don’t think we’ll need more general stuff for months and months so please hold off sending any more. What we’re really lacking are anime girls, yuri and yaoi stuff and specific nature cards.

Beth spends a lot of time searching online for the anime supplies and has come up with some creative ways to source them. Let me share one with you… remember David the guy from Japan with all the cats? He sells shitajiki boards (laminated boards of anime pictures). When he found out about the postcard project he said he often gets postcards and will send them to Beth with any orders she makes. So Beth buys boards she wants (either for herself or for gifts) and as a bonus she gets postcards. David gets the cash so he and his cats benefit.

But with my reduced salary due to being on sick leave that’s put a real crunch in Beth’s buying. She’s been so conscientious about purchases to help me. Now being so careful is a wonderful gift to me but it also puts a lot of stress on Beth as it restricts her freedom and choices which in turn makes her feel like she has even less control over life.

Beth, being resourceful, found out that David also takes Amazon gift certificates as payment. We received a couple of certificates from readers and they went towards her purchases with David. We should be receiving our next shipment in a couple of weeks and hopefully there will be some great cards we can send to people. So if you ever want to send Amazon gift certificates in small denominations they will always be put to good use. It’s the gift the keeps on giving – it helps me, Beth, David, his cats, and postcard and gift recipients.

One last thing, I was listening to the radio the other day while running errands and heard a song called ‘I will take care of you’ by Amy Sky.

Amy writes in a commentary that music has tiny fingers, and can reach places in the heart that words alone cannot. What a great and accurate metaphor. Her song made me think of Beth and made my heart ache with grief, bringing tears to my eyes. Even now my eyes water each time I hear the chorus.

Amy mentions that a lot of people cry when she sings it and she was surprised to hear that people are grateful for the chance to revisit their own losses. “Far from making sorrow worse, every time you shed tears you actually accept your grief a little more. Our wounds need the dignity of our attention, in order to heal.” I thought this was insightful as I sometimes feel embarrassed by tears I let escape. Maybe I can take it easier on myself and let them fall freely every once in a while.

Beth, this one’s for you…

Chorus lyrics:
I will take care of you
the very best that I can
With all of the love here in my heart
and all of the strength in my hands
Your every joy I'll share
for every tear I'll be there
my whole life through
I will take care of you


yanub said...

I'm so happy to learn that the concentrator has arrived! That's a great start to the new year.

No doubt, you will always take care of Beth with the same love and determination you have shown already. I think it is extra special that Beth was wrapped in your grandma's afghan--truly a symbol of your family's love and warmth.

Anonymous said...

So, you haven't been to Seattle for the clinic yet? When are you going?
I didn't quite get Elizabeths new post. Are there any new news about her conditions?
Take care

Kate J said...

I wonder if the bed-pad thing I ordered via Amazon arrived OK?
So glad to hear you've finally got the portable oxygen supply - that will hopefully make life a little more comfortable for Beth... and for you too.
Love & peace

Lene Andersen said...

I was bawling by the end of that. I made a CD for my father's memorial and one of the songs was "You'll Live Forever" by The Ennis Sisters. It's haunting, beautiful and makes me cry every time I hear it. Your song reminded me of that.

So glad the concentrator arrived! Yay!

Crying's important. Annoying, but important. I'm here for you, too.

JaneB said...

Thank you for keeping us updated, and for letting us know how we can help with at least some of the little things. It must be so hard trying to be strong all the time - I've found music and tears to be a great safety valve sometimes, and I hope you continue to find those things that help YOU.

Optistatic said...

Yay! That's excellent news! I do hope that it gives you both more freedom, and gives Elizabeth a bit more independence.

As far as postcards and stickers are concerned, I'm afraid I got your message too late. Sorry about that. Ah well; I daresay they will all end up in good homes eventually. I will do better next time! ;-)

wendryn said...

Thank you for updating. I'm really glad the concentrator is there and making life a little easier.

We'll keep sending things when we can. We have a reasonable used bookstore here - if I see any of the books on your list, I'll pick them up and send them along.

*hugs* - you are in our thoughts, too, although we communicate more with Elizabeth. If there's anything we can do, tell us, please. We sent two stamps this week, and the pictures looked very pretty.

Neil said...

The concentrator's arrival is wonderful news! I hope it counts as last year's purchase, though.

Love and hugs,

Raccoon said...

Yay! For the concentrator!

Yay! For the gifties!

Very touching sentimentalities. Thank you for sharing that with us.

I'm supposed to be moving some stuff tomorrow, but I'll give a call in the next couple of days.

Yay! For family heirlooms that can provide such comfort!

Unknown said...

Marvellous, one more step. One more thing. I'm so pleased this came through. I hope the quietness is helping!

The concentrator looks beautifully compact and I hope this will make life easier for both of you. I feel for you having to find places for lots of extra equipment-things in an apartment (presumably a finite size unless it's a tardis!).

I'm not sure if I can send things from Amazon; would have to arrange with a friend with credit card. However, it's a great idea for contributing.

I really like the idea of the wish list for the 2 of you, makes it easy for people to show practical appreciation and I'm glad there are things like the books on there for you. Keep listing them up there and if I can find a way, I'll contribute to something like that for you as well as for Elizabeth.