Seven Weeks on the Road with Oxygen
There have been many articles written about traveling with oxygen. I’ve read most of them because in the thirteen years I’ve needed supplemental oxygen, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling. This spring, my husband Andy and I took a long trip and we learned a few things. Needing supplemental oxygen is no reason not to travel around the country for extended periods of time if that’s your idea of fun.We certainly had fun!
First comes the planning. This is important even for short trips, but extra important for long trips. We live in Denver, and wanted to visit family and friends in New Mexico, Texas and Florida and also see the tourist attractions in between!
My insurance dictates that I use Apria for my oxygen and supplies. I plotted our route with the Apria directory along with the maps, making sure we’d travel through cities with Apria branches. I use liquid oxygen, and we travel with two continuous flow portables and a large tank from which I fill the portables. About two weeks before we left, I called Apria to notify the branches I thought we’d need to visit. I also asked the customer service rep to check that each of these branches had liquid oxygen. She said that Harlingen, TX, only had oxygen on trucks, so I would need to call the day before to be sure a truck was there.We always call the day before and double check that we have the correct address. I also always take a copy of my prescription with me.
I had an itinerary showing where we would be each day, when we’d need oxygen, when we’d need to mail checks to pay bills, and when we’d need to mail birthday cards! You can’t put the world on hold just because you’re not at home.
My packing list included oxygen supplies that are needed for any trip, short or long: extra tubing, cannulas, swivel attachments, Christmas trees, and all the supplies for my trans-tracheal oxygen. I bring an oximeter and a flow meter to check the tanks.
We had so much fun. Taking this much time for a trip allowed us to spend three or four days at each home we visited. We spent one or two days playing tourist between visits. We saw sights that weren’t in the tourist information. We were in Mobile, AL, shortly after Mardi Gras, and while we were doing a walking tour of one of the many historical districts, we saw a tree absolutely covered with Mardi Gras beads. We spent five days in Disney World. I rented a wheelchair, so I wouldn’t get too tired. It made it easy to carry both tanks and we could be in a theme park all day. There will always be communication problems. You just have to expect it. Learn from it and then laugh about it after the fact. I learned that we will always plan on going to the branch for refills. If you really want to see the country, and have the time for it, long road trips are the way to go. Don’t let your oxygen needs stop you!
Marilyn Sundt, Aurora, CO