By Christopher Green
First of all, the latest tax season was very, well, taxing for me. It took all I had and then some to get it all done on time. I was happy that I only had to file a few extensions and that I was able to get most of the returns back to my clients in a reasonable amount of time. My clients really understand and I cannot tell them how much their loyalty has meant to me over the last few years.
As I had mentioned before, I was able to mask my exhaustion in past years by cranking up the old O2 machine, drink in that concentrated Oxygen like the hipsters in O2 bars in one of those trends from the coasts that never quite hit the heartland. I could operate, if not on all cylinders, at least with enough to keep me going.
But this year, it just wasn’t enough. It has taken me more than two full days now just to get up off my day bed and start functioning with something resembling my normal routine. Day bed? Where did that come from? I must have left the TV on one night when I drifted off to sleep and Sorry Wrong Number or some other such Barbara Stanwick tragic movie came on and entered my subconscious.
Not that sometimes, now and then, I don’t view my own life as tragic drama. But I try to get over it as quick as I can because I have seen up real close and personal what letting your condition take over your life can do to a person.
I remember this guy from a rehab class I was advised to take back in 2004. The class was designed to show people with COPD how to go about the day aware of your limitations and how to get around new obstacles. It was right after I was fitted for O2 for the first time. His name was Chris as well and we kind of hit it off. We were the two Chris’s. We laughed, did our exercises and generally kept the class light hearted and fun.
But then some personal stuff came up and I had to miss class for about three weeks. When I came back, the other Chris was no longer coming to class. Seems Chris had had a relapse of sorts and was missing, staying out for another month or so.
When he finally came back, I noticed a huge change in his attitude. He was timid, not sure of himself. I chalked it up to being hit low by a bug and that he would be back to his old self in a while. But he never did rebound.
It all came into focus for me a few days later when I found him wandering aimlessly around the parking garage after class. He could not remember on which floor he had parked his car. He was getting very antsy, almost to a point of panic and then tears started to stream down his face. He was way out of breath and I thought he was going to pass out. I noticed that his O2 canister was running low.
I stopped the car and told him to get in. I didn’t know what to do. It had been a long time since I had seen a grown man cry. (If I get around to that chunk of my life sometime, I might tell that sordid little tale because it does have a lot to do with how I came to be like I am.)
He sat down hard. “I can’t do this anymore; I can’t pretend that things are normal, that all of this,” he waved back at the hospital where we met every Tuesday and Thursday for rehab, “is somehow going to change anything for any of us.”
I didn’t know what to say. I was, at that time, back in 2004, in full denial mode. I wasn’t going to let an O2 tube change my life. I was going to beat this thing, keep my life as normal as I could. But Chris kept going on.
“I can’t remember anything anymore.” He said. “I can’t find my keys; I can’t remember my brothers’ phone number.”
All I could say was, “Don’t worry, we’ll find your car if it takes all day.”
He got quiet then and we drove around until we found it. Turns out he had walked right passed his little Volvo and didn’t even see it. He never came back to the class while I was there. I checked out about three or four weeks later feeling that I couldn’t get any more from the class.
I hadn’t thought about Chris for a long time now. I don’t know his last name, so I can’t find him that way. I’m suppose to go back to the class as prep for my transplant orientation, so I guess I can ask the head nurse, if she is still there, if she knows what happened to him.
Why I’m telling you this is that these last few weeks when I was working hard just to work hard, I started to ask myself a lot of questions. Some are very personal and are on the lines of how much do I have left to give up before I don’t have anything more let go?
This I can tell you, that’s a real tough place to be. No wonder the other Chris was having such anxiety about everything around him as little by little his world was being taken away from him until he was left wandering around a parking garage trying to find his car just so he could get back to the safety of his home. That was all he had. His world was closing in on him fast.
But it is also a great way for me to accept the fact that the transplant will change my life and that little by little I can reclaim those parts of the world that I have lost along the way.
I was going to write about how the payment for O2 equipment is handled by insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid. But then this part of my every evolving saga came back to me and I thought it was the perfect way to work my way back to the Blog.
Don’t worry, I will get into that soon because it is important that you all know how the crazy ways this stuff is paid for. But it will keep because the big Health Care Reform bill didn’t tackle this at all and it is sure one place where changing the way patients get access to long term health care equipment can save boatloads of money.