To Thrive or Simply Survive

The tornado that skipped and ripped through Hot Springs Village on the evening of March 14 was classified as an EF-2—relatively weak but strong enough to snap power poles, blow down big pine trees, break massive limbs from huge oaks, and tear roofs from some homes. Our only “damage,” as far as we can tell, amounted to loss of a large bush adjacent to the house, two massive pine trees blown down (lifting their root balls from the ground), a few pieces of outdoor materials blown away, and the loss of the contents of our refrigerators/freezers. Power was out for roughly 52 hours, beginning when the tornado struck just after 8 on Thursday (March 14) evening. We fumbled in the dark that evening, but decided to go to a motel the next night to enjoy the comforts of air conditioning/ heating and electricity-powered light. But from the time we checked in on Friday evening, I not feel well and I could not sleep that night. We had planned to go home Saturday morning, but I found breathing progressively more difficult. Mi novia badgered me to go to the ER and I finally relented. They admitted me Friday afternoon, determining I should be treated for pneumonia. My breathing (at rest, at least) has much improved over the course of my hospitalization, through Tuesday, when I was released. Still, though, I get extremely short of breath with just a bit of exertion—like walking from one end of the house to the other.

My re-scheduled PET scan will take place this afternoon to determine whether my body is responding as hoped to cancer treatment. My final, originally-scheduled, chemo treatment will take place tomorrow, Thursday. Depending on the results of the PET scan, there could be more. Assuming all is as planned and hoped for, I will continue with immunotherapy treatments every three weeks for the next two years.

And that sums up what I would have written during the last few days, had I felt good enough for one-finger blogging. I didn’t, though, so I didn’t. I now have oxygen at home and I have a portable unit. I’ll see whether I get used to that. I hope my need for oxygen disappears very soon. I cannot imagine needing supplemental oxygen from now on; my lifestyle would change dramatically and I would have to decide whether that change was acceptable. If I could not thrive, would I find it tolerable to simply survive? I suppose that’s another continuum that, at some point, would trigger a profound decision.


Speaking of tornadoes (and I was), the landscape of my neighborhood has changed dramatically, courtesy of the tornado. Hundreds of trees were blown down, leaving a massive amount of damage that will require a very long time to clean up. Once the trees have been cut up and removed, large swaths of land will have been transformed from forest to field. We were very fortunate to have been spared the worst of the devastation; but less than a block or two away (in my rough estimation of distance), the tornado left evidence that will be visible and obvious for generations.


The oxygen concentrator that was delivered to my house yesterday afternoon is horrifically loud. I can barely hear myself think while the thing is running. I’d almost rather do without breathing than listen to this nearly-unbearable noise. But, for the time being, I will try to get accustomed to the sound. I received no direction as to how long or how often I should use the machine. I did not use it at all yesterday and I’ve used it only for half an hour or less so far this morning. The noise is too loud for me to continue using the device for much longer without a break—an opportunity to let my ears rest and soak in some serenity. Serenity  is contextual…just like everything else. I may have mentioned that a thousand times before.


I must stop for now, lest my eardrums spark a revolution in my brain that leads to a massive and violent attack on that machine that’s disturbing the peace.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to To Thrive or Simply Survive

  1. Meg and Bev, thanks for the advice and info. I plan to use O2 when appropriate and I’m happy to report that, even without the O2, I’m running at 96-97 (when at rest, anyway)!

  2. bevwigney says:

    As Meg commented, some concentrators are noisier than others. Also, if they didn’t give you a long line, get one so that you can leave the concentrator running outside the room. Just make sure the line isn’t crimped anywhere. Also, yes, check your 02 level frequently with your oximeter. We liked to see it more like 93. If your oxygen levels are low it will make you feel weary and even confused, so don’t do without if your 02 isn’t at a good level.
    Sorry you’re having to use supplemental oxygen. Hopefully that will be a temporary thing.

  3. Meg Koziar says:

    John, So happy you are out of the hospital! Your brain cells need oxygen, so use it! But don’t put up with a noisy machine! I’ve had 5 different ones, so I know they can be relatively quiet. (I Currently have Lincare.) If you have an oximeter, use it and keep your level above 88% .Complain to your Doc and insist you get a quieter concentrator.

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