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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
COPDers and caregivers – Mark Wednesday, 19 January on your
calendar – Full details tomorrow.
More later… Sharon O’Hara