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When the Power Goes Out – Is Kitsap County a Cold and Lonely Place For COPDers?

January 15th, 2011 by Sharon O'Hara

When the Power Goes Out – Is Kitsap County a Cold and Lonely Place For COPDers?

We had one battery charged lantern and I kept the box handy on the counter because I knew the lights would come on any minute and I could quickly put it away again. Two days later, the lights came on and I put it away.  The laptop puddled in place – a good reminder that better power days were ahead…same with the lamp.  The two drawers full of old candles were not lit…I do not want to inhale candle fumes.

The little shortwave radio was meant as a Christmas present but I’ve kept it – the so welcome sound and information was my connection to the world.

I didn’t know it when I shot this photo but less than two hours later, the tireless power wonders will have restored our power.  It was so very cold….and it felt balmy when the temperature inside finally came up to 50 degrees.

No, only for those on life giving machines such as the C-Pap and Bi-Pap machines – they have nowhere to go to plug in their life sustaining machines.   Seniors on a concentrator bleed-in usually can’t carry the heavy machines.

The plus during the last two day power outage was to discover all the people helping others in a tight fix.

My husband, the Old Guy, spent most of the two days out in the cold trying to fix the generator.

The discovery that the tube he thought would fix it, didn’t,  led to more cell calls to the generator tech folks and ultimately to another  Kitsap County Angel –Ward’s Radiator Shop in Chico.

It turned out that all we needed was an expandable plug that Wards said should work temporarily until he can solder it in this summer.  It worked and is still working!  But not until after the wonderful power workers fixed our power and we went on the emergency source heat pump. Thank you, Ward’s Radiator Shop in Chico!

Our inside temperature dropped to 40 degrees and by the second night the Old Guy fixed our old portable Honda generator and asked if I wanted it hooked to a portable heater or use it on my bi-pap and concentrator.

Well.  Having taken the Mountaineering course at Olympic College some 35 years ago and learning some survival skills,  I didn’t see the sense of blowing 41 degree air into the 98 degree body I’d carefully kept warm by layering.  And, once in bed, I stayed warm and didn’t need a heater.

Question:  Was my concern and decision against blowing 41 degree cold air into my airway wrong?

Would the cold air have been warmed enough by a warm core or would my core have begun to cool to reflect the cold air blowing in?

As it was, many of us went without the machines that keep our airway open and (for some) that keep our vital blood/oxygen numbers up.

Funny thing: With good reason, the Old Guy complains, moans, and groans whenever I ask him to get something out of the freezer and puts on heavy gloves to do it – he has Raynaud’s Disease in his fingers.

During the two day power outage, he spent hours in the below freezing weather working on the generator and never said a word…just went to work trying to fix it…and couldn’t wear the thick, warm gloves.  ‘Caregivers’ is an overdue story for another time.

Bainbridge Seniors at the Senior Center have plans to provide a place to go and I hope they coordinate with oxygen companies to assist those on machines to keep their airways open and for those on concentrators and oxygen.

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/copd-and-other-stuff/2011/01/09/cold-in-silverdale-bi-senior-center-rocks/

My bi-pap was ordered after a Sleep Apnea study in 2001and Lincare supplied my Respironics Duet on 3 August 2001, according to Mike DiMatteo of Lincare, and our insurance paid it off in February 2002.

In 2010, my secure sense of well-being went to the bottom of rattlesnake canyon in a hand basket when a home study showed my sats dropped into the basement while asleep, way below good oxygen levels.  I fell through the cracks in our system and I can’t be the only one.

We have stuff – serious stuff that needs fixing and that is another story for another time.

As I see it, oxygen companies are caught in the bind of Medicare, Medicaid and patients and one flaw has been lack of communication between patient, physician and Oxygen Company.

Patients talk to your doctor – its vital your sats stay up while awake and how much leeway do we have if they drop when we’re asleep?  We need oxygen to our organs and the brain is a vital organ.

While I had the friendly and helpful Mike DiMatteo on the phone, I asked him about offering help with the Bainbridge Senior Center seniors planning a safe haven when the power goes out.  Mike said he would be glad to offer whatever help/advice they needed.  I’m sure most of Kitsap’s oxygen companies who supply these machines will help too.

Someday the rest of Kitsap County will follow the Bainbridge Senior Center seniors lead and provide assistance for those who need help when the power goes out. For some seniors, just a viable power plug can make the difference between life and death.

A super plus is the great event next Wednesday at Harrison Silverdale speaking to this very subject of emergency assistance for those of us on oxygen, concentrators, BiPap and C-Pap – all respiratory folks.

COPDers and caregivers – Mark Wednesday, 19 January on your calendar – Full details tomorrow.

More later… Sharon O’Hara

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2 Responses to “When the Power Goes Out – Is Kitsap County a Cold and Lonely Place For COPDers?”

  1. Jill Woodward Says:

    Thank You Sharon O’Hara for the great article. I live in great fear and trepidation of power outages that extend into the sleeping hours. The reason? I can’t sleep without my c-pap and I mean can’t! I wake every 2 to 3 minutes to breath. I’m also vision imparied so it’s not wise to wander the house in the dark. In addition it’s almost impossible for me to read even in the best of light so books are out. I have no generator even to try and start, so I lay in bed and wish I had studied more zen meditation when I was young! I do have a liquid oxygen set-up that does not require electricity so I’m okay with that unless it’s the day before delivery day and I start running out! Oh well, the best I can do is lay in my bed trying the afore mentioned zen thing but when I tire of that I start the “Is That the Puget Power Truck I Hear” game. Never has beep-beep-beep back-up noise sounded so Good!

  2. Robert Gaskill Says:

    Having a spouse who is dependant on a C-Pap I can understand the trepidation felt when the power goes out. As we enjoy camping we have found a way to calm our nerves. We purchased a Deep-cycle Battery, a power converter and a battery charger. We regularly put the Battery on trickle charge to keep it up to snuff. At home, with the power out, we know we can get at least two nights sleep out of it. As to a generator, we bought one with a battery start feature. (Remember to plug it’s battery in to charge regularly as well.) If started on a monthly schedule you can have the peace of mind to know it will start when needed. Don’t forget to put in the fuel stabilizer to extend the life of the gasoline. These two things have given us peace of mind through many a power outage.

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This is a patient to patient blog to exchange information and resources...from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) to Arthritis to Cellulites to Sarcoidosis to Sleep Apnea to RLS to Psoriasis to Support Groups to Caregivers and all points in between. Written by Sharon O'Hara.

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