Today’s the first day since mid-August that I haven’t had to drive to the wound care center I’ve been going to for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It’s a weird feeling, because it’s been such a routine. It’s been this reliable block of four hours when I knew what I had to do, where I had to go and what was expected of me.
10:15 – Leave for the wound care center.
10:45 – Arrive. Wait until the hyperbaric tech was ready to prep me.
11:00 – Change into a hospital johnny. Get a blood glucose check, get a blood pressure check, and depending on the day and the doctor on hand, get my ears and breathing checked.
11:15 – Go into the chamber. Be wary of equalizing the pressure in my ears for the first ten minutes or so of each session. Constant swallowing, yawning and blowing into my nose while pinching my nostrils.
12:45 – Repeat the equalization process as the tech decreases the pressure in the chamber. Get another blood glucose check (damn, but their glucometer needs a lot of blood compared to the one I have at home), another blood pressure read, sometimes ears and breathing, then get changed again and be on my way.
Typically I’d get home between 1:30 and 2:00 PM
That same routine, day in and day out. Except for Thursdays, when they’d ask me to come in in the afternoon so the doctor could check my foot.
There were a few days that I didn’t do it – like the time Bonnie and I had to take James to the oral surgeon to have some teeth extracted as part of his orthodontia; or one day when I just flaked and decided I didn’t want to (the hyperbaric tech tells me that happens pretty frequently, so I didn’t feel too bad about playing hooky). But I was scheduled for thirty treatments and I did the vast majority of them, finally getting the clearance to stop from the doctor who’s been treating me since I was discharged from the hospital.
Now, to be clear, I haven’t totally recovered. There’s still a wound on the bottom of my foot that requires me to wear a dressing and use a special shoe and take a walker or cane with me wherever I go, and they still want me to elevate the foot constantly (I think the actual order is “five times a day”). But I’m confident – and so is the doc – that it’ll heal without surgery, so I’m just taking it day by day at this point.
I won’t miss this four hour void in my schedule that’s been absorbing my late morning and early afternoon every day. Most of it was interminably boring: the treatment involves laying in a lucite tube on a mattress that’s too thin to be comfortable, doing nothing but either napping or staring at a TV screen as the compartment is flooded with pure oxygen at high pressure. Nothing to do but breathe.
The hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been disruptive to me personally and professionally, and I complained about it regularly. But at the same time, the routine of it gave me a sense of purpose and a structure to my day that I found very reassuring. And it was something that had been missing from my life for a while.