This article, written by Pete Wilson, appeared in the January 2007 issue of Respiratory News & Views and the March 2007 issue of NHOPA News and is reprinted here for those who do not subscribe to those newsletters..
In the December 2006 issue, I was featured in the quarterly COPD-Digest. The article contained information about what I do and photographs of me in a shirt and tie. This was a big deal for me to be recognized for the work I do. More importantly, it was an opportunity to reach those patients who had never heard about my website or me. Here I am folks—one who wears oxygen helping others with “nose hoses.”
Then, on the Sunday after the Digest was mailed out I got a call from Bob Campbell, the author of the blog www.alphamale.typepad.com. He asked about my use of oxygen—did I wear it all the time, sometimes, or not at all--was his question, after noting that none of the photos showed me with a nose hose. Could what I write be trusted if I had not experienced wearing oxygen as well?
As Bob correctly observed, none of the photogaphs showed me connected to oxygen. The reason was simple. My buttoned-up collar and necktie hid the small catheter that directs oxygen into my trachea. The tubing leading from my oxygen source to the catheter I wear hidden under my clothing. Why in the world would I exchange a cannula for a surgically imbedded catheter, no matter how small, just for breathing?
This is what happened. It was January 1999 that I attended the annual meeting of the National Home Oxygen Patients’ Association (NHOPA). I arrived after the meeting had started, so I took the closest seat and tried to look inconspicuous. My attention was immediately drawn to the presiding officer who, according to the NHOPA Bylaws, must wear oxygen. But, it appeared he was not! Not only that, but he looked healthier than any of us with nose hoses. I found out before I left the meeting that Jon Tiger was breathing his oxygen through something called a “SCOOP.” And, this is a guy who sails a catamaran while wearing oxygen!
There was no time for the two of us to talk about his SCOOP. He directed me to the website www.tto2.com. There I learned that the formal name of the product Jon was wearing is transtrachael oxygen (TTO2) oxygen. I learned from the website, the oxygen bypasses the nose and goes directly to the trachea through a small incision in the neck.
Even though the website indicated the SCOOP would support all of my needs, I laid aside any thoughts of doing anything about it. After all, with the exception of a tonsillectomy at age 6, I had avoided the surgeon’s scalpel for 65 years. I was not willing to allow my body to be invaded by elective surgery. Besides, my wife was not keen at all on it.
Flash ahead two years and you will find both of us more willing to consider transtracheal oxygen. How’s it done, we asked? The process is set up into four phases. During Phase I, I got comfortable about the procedure and my prescribing physician got comfortable about me having it. I discovered that Medicare would pay for the surgery and all the supplies. I was comforted by the fact that should I later choose to return to the cannula, I could do so with ease.
Phase II, or the surgery phase is when a small incision was made in my neck and a dummy catheter is put in place. The surgery takes only about a half-hour but the wait for an after-surgery Xray was about an hour for me.
At the beginning of Phase III, the dummy was replaced with a functional SCOOP, which remained in place for five or six weeks or until the catheter’s tract has matured. I relied solely on the SCOOP to provide me with oxygen, cleaning it in place as ordered by the surgeon. Finally, in Phase IV, I took charge of my SCOOP—removing it, cleaning it, and replacing it.
I have been using the SCOOP for more than five years now. It is far more comfortable, easier to manage, and far less the center of attention than the cannula. Those around me forget I am on oxygen even when I wear open neck shirts that shows the world I am on transtracheal oxygen.
Why I closed the top button of my dress shirt and put on a tie for the article's photographers, I do no know. Let me just say to Bob Campbell and you that I am proud to be wearing the SCOOP.
Pete Wilson is an oxygen user and patients’ advocate. He is the founder of the website “Portable Oxygen: A User’s Perspective” at http://www.portableoxygen.org. Pete has no financial interest in any of the products he uses or reports on.
Peter M. Wilson, Ph.D.
Founder of PortableOxygen.org
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