Monday, June 30, 2008


Before I start I just want to say, the staff at National Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is fantastic. From the moment you arrive to the time that you leave they treat you like family and make sure you have everything you need and are as comfortable as possible. Dr Spiegel, Phil, and Marcia were all amazing today. Thank you!

As they slid my body into the Hyperbaric chamber I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I am very claustrophobic. They had offered me something to take the edge off and I took the smallest dose, just in case :)  

They recommended I close my eyes as I was rolled into the chamber and then open them once inside and said that "I wouldn't even notice". You know what? They were right!  I wasn't bothered at all by being in the chamber. 

At the facility I am having my treatment's done they use the Sechrist chambers  . These are individual chambers, meaning only one person at a time fits into them, as opposed to some facilities that use the multi-person chambers, such as the ones displayed on the HyperOx website  . 

I am sure that being in the multi-person chamber you definitely don't have to worry about claustrophobia but even the Sechrist unit that I was in, it was no big deal because it is all clear around you. It is sort of like being in a big glass tube. There is enough room to maneuver, to change position, shift from lying on your back to lying on either side, placing a pillow under your knees if you have back problems, propping up your head on a couple of pillows, etc.  While inside I just pictured myself on a long plane ride sitting in the window seat; where you are in a somewhat confined space but not unpleasant. 

Before I got in Phil, the Nurse/technician, asked me if I wanted to pick out a movie or I could watch live TV, or even listen to a book on tape. After a thorough explanation of the hand signals that he and I would use to communicate (in addition to the microphone/speaker set-up, he explained how the "dive" would go. I would slowly descend for a while, achieve the recommended depth for the first day, stay there for about 90 minutes, and then slowly ascend. He explained how I would need to breath, use my ears, mouth, nose, etc. all along the way to ensure there would be no ear pain or other issues. 

Phil was right alongside the tank the entire time I was descending and ascending making sure I was doing ok. It went very smoothly. My ears needed to be cleared quite a few times going down, which is normal, and there is a procedure for doing that which he made sure I knew how to do before I even entered the tank. 

The time I was actually "at depth" was, well, not any different than lying on my couch watching TV. Except for the fact that in my living room I don't normally have people walking by every five or ten minutes looking down at me checking to see if I am Ok. I guess that is a good thing, because that would be a little weird, ok, a lot weird.   

But I digress. 

So I sat at about 18' below sea level and watched the History Channel. All the while thinking ... "Could it really be this easy? Could it be this easy to getting better, to relieving my pain?" 

I realize that there will come a point in the treatment when I will actually get worse before I get better. This is an important thing to note because oftentimes this is when patients will give up on the HBO treatment, thinking it isn't working, how can it be if it is making me worse? But that is just the nature of the beast, the ay this treatment works. if you can hang on and push through that difficult time, that rough patch and make it through and keep going to the treatments, you will be rewarded in many, many cases with relief from your pain, symptoms, etc. 

So, over the course of the next four weeks or so I will try to relate my experiences to you, let you know some of what I experience, some things I have learned that might help those of you considering it, etc. 

Right now though I am exhausted. I am hoping and praying that what I have been told by many patients and Drs is true. That many patients end up getting an amazing nights sleep after their first HBO treatment! YEAH!  I remember sleeping through the night, well not really but I have heard stories about it. They seemed like wonderful stories of very lucky people. 

I remember something that Dr Spiegel said at a meeting the Palm Harbor/Tampa Bay CRPS Support group held a few weeks ago. He said that healthy people need to think back to a time in their lives when they went through a rough patch where they didn't sleep well for two or three nights. To remember what that did to them; made them irritable, cranky, groggy, made it difficult to concentrate/work, left them feeling exhausted, tired, and worn out. He explained how we all needed our REM or healing sleep in order to function properly.

Then he said to imagine not sleeping well for weeks, months, even years on end as chronic pain patients have to deal with. I have had this disease for 34 years as I said. I could use a good nights sleep :)

See you tomorrow,


1 comment:

Catherine said...


Thanks for sharing your HBO treatment experience with us.
I wish you the best of luck in your HBO treatment.
I hope at the end you will walk away with greatly diminished
pain. (*;*)

If anyone deserves to get relief from this burning nightmare,
it is you.
Your work for RSDers everywhere, through American RSDHope,
has helped thousands of people, and has saved lives.

Unless a person has walked a mile in the shoes of an RSDer,
they have no idea what it’s like to never be able to
escape this terrible pain we have to live through every day.
It is a fire that cannot be extinguished.

Wishing you PFD’s ( pain free days)