Monday, January 12, 2009

We Got Your WMDs Right Here

This week's a mix of getting ready for the trip to Palo Alto and getting ready for classes to start on the 21st. Balancing those two is proving a bit tricky. I intended to spend today working mostly on school stuff, but instead, I spent all morning on the phone trying to score a portable concentrator for the trip.

No can do. These babies cost $4,000, and companies that rent them out do so only to existing patients. Dad's oxygen company can get one, but that requires 2-3 weeks of lead time, since the equipment has to be shipped from Florida.

However, a very nice man in the Prosthetics Department of the VA has arranged for us to be able to get new tanks in Palo Alto, as well as a small concentrator that will plug into an outlet -- this in case Dad is discharged from the hospital but we're prevented from traveling by weather (always possible this time of year) and have to spend a night or two in a hotel. For some reason, this is all being coordinated through Florida too, and not Reno, so I have to call someone in Florida tomorrow. The VA guy also said that in case of disaster -- car trouble in the mountains, say -- I should get oxygen wherever I can and get the info to him so the VA can pay for it.

He volunteered, though, that he doesn't like driving with oxygen tanks in his own car. "They're dangerous. If you're in an accident, they're like having ballistic missiles in your car."

Oh, good.

He told me that the safest place to keep them is in the trunk, and also pointed out that Dad's O2 requirements will probably decrease once we get to sea level, which will make the tanks last longer. So: Dad will be in the front seat, his current tank will be in the back seat with Gary monitoring it, and the rest will be in the trunk with the wheelchair and various luggage (we'll stop when we need to change tanks, obviously). I ordered an oximeter from Amazon and paid the exorbitant fee for overnight shipping, so we should have that tomorrow. It will be very helpful to be able to monitor Dad's O2 levels during the trip.

Although the weather's expected to be clear, we plan to have chains, blankets, food and water with us, as well as more than enough cash to pay chain monkeys. In other words, we're going to be better prepared and equipped than that hapless Palo Alto van driver.

Dad's hospital check-in time is noon, which means we'll have to leave Dad's house at 7:00. None of us are morning people, so this is going to be pretty miserable, but we'll do it. I'm also still not sure where we're staying; I asked the study coordinator to try to get me and Gary into the Fisher House attached to the VA, but given the short lead time, we may need to spring for a hotel. I can't call the lady in Florida until I know where we'll be, since she needs that info to deliver the concentrator. Details, details!

I also finally heard from the medical social worker today; he said that Medicaid waivers for assisted living can be hard to get, but that the VA has a program that will help pay for upscale places. This involves lots of red tape and a longish wait, but we can manage on our own until it kicks in. Dad and I are meeting with the social worker tomorrow morning, and then I'll take him to see the upscale place (or "the mansion," as he's now calling it).

In the middle of everything else, I am indeed chipping away at class prep, but it's not going as quickly as I'd like. I can bring my laptop to Palo Alto if I don't have everything done before we leave, as now seems likely.

And I'm going to drive werry, werry carefully, given both my precious human cargo and the missiles in the trunk.


  1. Many prayers ascending for safe travel, Susan! Putting those oxygen tanks in your car trunk sounds dicey to me. Not a good idea to store portable oxygen tanks on their sides. Please be careful!


  2. That's a good point about sea level. I've lived almost my entire life at/near sea level, and I definitely feel the difference when I'm some place like Denver. (If I ever come visit you, you can expect to find me taking hits off your dad's tank :D)

  3. Yay! I'm glad you've connected with the VA help for assisted living. Traveling mercies.

  4. Wrapping the spare oxygen tanks in towels/blankets so they are not rattling all around the trunk is a good idea. So is driving werry, werry, carefully!!
    Safe travels.

  5. Glad some information is starting to come together re: Palo Alto. Do be safe but try not to worry too much. People drive with oxygen tanks in their cars ALL THE TIME. I mean, really, what else can you do? Prayers and good thoughts...


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