From the perfect storm to a new calling
Posted on May 17, 2017
Contributed by Carla Barnes, CAIRE Inc.
Coach Bob shares his journey with others who have been prescribed oxygen therapy
The doctors told Bob Rawlins and his wife, Terese, that there was an 80 percent chance he wasn’t going to make it.
“It was the perfect storm. I had gotten a vestibular virus that had caused irreparable nerve damage to both my ears, and I found myself struggling to breathe doing simple things like walking from my car to inside my office each morning. My assistant would hear me come in coughing and would ask me if I was okay, and I would always say, ‘Just give me a minute.’ Not soon after I found myself on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of the hospital with double pneumonia. Later my medical team would tell me and wife that I had ARDS (Acute Respiratory Destress Syndrome).”
Rawlins made an important decision that day - the choice to live and do whatever it takes to improve his health. Personally he said he had two major things going for him – faith, family, and determination. Also, he said he had a medical team that was not only talented, but clearly had his back in this journey to regain a normal life.
“The nurses and doctors would pop in and ask me, ‘Can I pray with you,’” he said.
Having lost more than 42 lbs. and most of his strength, the simple task of moving from the bed to the chair was an ordeal.
“Before this I would train in the gym every week, and now I couldn’t even raise my arm to wipe my nose,” he said. “It literally took me 20 minutes. Laying there in bed with a tube up my nose, I thought to myself, ‘really?’”
This slow process was tough on the father of 12-year-old triplets – not to mention his professional life as a marketing executive who was used to moving at a fast, digital pace.
“It is a slow process,” he said. “I had tremendous anxiety and turmoil just to get out of the bed and sit up once a day.”
All told it would take nine weeks to get him in the position to go home to his family – and with him this time would be a prescription for oxygen therapy.
“They sent me home on tanks,” he said. “I was on continuous flow, 2 LPM, in the house so we could keep me in the steady 90s for pulse oximeter reading.”
Rawlins discovered he was not satisfied with the performance and portability of his oxygen tanks.
“I had the huge tank for when I went out and a smaller one, but they weren’t lasting long – so that was a pain,” he said.
This propelled him to do research into his options and the discovery of the SeQual eQuinox portable oxygen concentrator. He said the thing that sticks out most to him is the way the device delivers the oxygen through his nasal cannula.
“It’s tons better than any tank I’ve been on. The pulse oxygen delivery at the beginning of my breath is amazing. You can feel the burst and the body accepts it. It is much better for me. I can do much more with this,” he said.
The new device also offers unlimited portability which is easily transported to his kids’ athletic events, but also his new job, volunteering at the local hospital.
“My new calling is to give inspiration to other people who are suffering from similar disabilities,” he said. “I am here to tell them it is not the end. Also, that I know how you feel. I know you are asking yourself, ‘Where is my life going? and How long am I going to live?’ … I know.”
Rawlins said that most of the time he just delivers a newspaper and some friendly conversation, but he finds more times than not they want to ask him about his eQuinox.
“You gotta have an attitude to be on oxygen therapy. You have to ask yourself, ‘What do I want to live for?’”
Rawlins said finding a level of acceptance was huge throughout his ordeal and facing his daily routine.
“There are people who have decided they want to sit in the chair and not have oxygen therapy. I just decided that I was not going to sit in a chair and not be on oxygen. Of course I went through asking why this had to happen to me, but it has now become a second nature to me and my family,” he said.
Rawlins said there is a good chance he might not ever get off oxygen therapy, but for him his primary goal is to stabilize his health, and reach a level of wellness that will slow down any future pulmonary fibrosis and keep other sickness away.
“I’m not going to let this stop me. I’m going to control what I can control,” he said.
He credits his use of oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation as being essential in building up strength to avoid not only illnesses, but falls.
“We are all dependent on oxygen for our bodies to stay strong,” he said.
Because he has built up his strength, he has even been able to resume some of his favorite hobbies. He recently took a trip with his eQuinox to Florida to golf. Armed with two 24-cell battery cartridges he learned he can enjoy the full course and still get the oxygen he needs.
“I can do nine holes on one battery and then I switch out the battery to finish out the rest,” he said. “The machine is phenomenal. It has changed my life.”
The eQuinox portable oxygen concentrator is manufactured by CAIRE Inc., a globally-recognized brand in oxygen therapy. For more information about CAIRE and the eQuinox, visit www.CAIREMedical.com.