Climbing the Mountain of Health

My brother-in-law, Clarence, has just jetted off to Nepal to try his hand at climbing Everest. Well, he’s only going to the base camp, but that’s said to be no mean feat in itself (more like being mean to your feet). Anyway, in the lead up to this, he’s been reading up on how to avoid altitude sickness. It seems that this can occur at heights >2000m above sea level, and the base camp is up more than double that.

It’s interesting stuff, this whole thing of how the body responds to different levels of air pressure and oxygen. According to Clarence, air at sea level is at a higher pressure than air at high altitudes, which is what causes altitude sickness. I guess that’s why one of most cited treatments for severe altitude sickness involves the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (portable equipment, in Australia at least, is available). This can deliver up to 100% pure oxygen at a pressure that’s higher than that at sea level – that is, closer to the ambient pressure at higher altitudes.

What I don’t fully understand is this: given that the concentration of oxygen at high altitude and sea level is be pretty similar (around 21-25%), what role does providing the body with 100% oxygen play in treatment for altitude sickness? There seems to be pretty legit anecdotal evidence to suggest that there’s a clear therapeutic connection; I just haven’t read into it deeply enough to grasp it.

In Melbourne, hyperbaric oxygen therapy devices come in a whole range of forms: multi-person rooms in hospital facilities, portable chambers that people can set up in their homes, and even relaxation-oriented therapeutic settings more akin to massage clinics than medical facilities. The latter two of these, as I understand it, employ a milder version of the treatment, although I’m not totally sure what that means – perhaps there’s less than 100% oxygen in the mix.

Regardless of all of the above, let’s hope that Clarence makes it back with his lungs in one piece. Meanwhile, I’m off to learn more about how breathing works.

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That’s a Real Light-Bulb Moment

You know you’re getting desperate when you’re up at 2am, searching for Wi-Fi-enabled light-bulbs that steadily brighten in the morning and supposedly help you get up naturally. except it obviously isn’t natural, because it’s a Wi-Fi light-bulb. And then it’s not going to help me in the morning, because the whole point of not waking up properly is the fact that I chronically go to bed late, due to severe insomnia. So a Wi-Fi light-bulb is just going to make things worse at this point, since I won’t be getting ANY quality sleep.

Doctor couldn’t do anything about it, though he did give me contact details for a psychiatrist’s office in the Mornington Peninsula. Not too far off.

Is it in my head, though? I don’t want to go to a psychologist and waste their time when it turns out I just have a messed up sleeping pattern. Sure, I know it’s because of my poor life choices- not to mention the fact that I cannot for the life of me dump screens before bed- but still, it could just be something I have to deal with myself.

Yeah, yeah…said every single problem procrastinator ever. It’s 2018, and all that. Mental health isn’t something we stow away in a cupboard while we take a stiff upper lip and hope for the best. There are whole days devoted to asking people how they are. Video game addiction is a disorder now. And if this is seriously damaging the way I live my life- which it totally is, come to think of it- then it needs to stop.

Guess I’m making a quick trip to the Mornington Peninsula. Seeing a psychiatrist might not be quick, come to think of it, but at this point I’ll do anything to break out of this cycle. I COULD try the Wi-Fi light-bulb, but I have a feeling I’ll be $40 poorer and no closer to an actual solution.


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Oxygen Technology is Coming

I’ve always thought it would be handy to have a comprehensive list of things that I hate, right here on my phone, so that when the conversation turns to pet hates and that sort of thing I can just whip it out. It’ll all be here!

At the moment, what I’ve got is…beetroot. People who press the button a thousand times when they want to cross the road. People who think selfies are going to destroy society. Our postman, who seems not to understand that knocking and running away at the speed of an olympic sprinter is not the right way to deliver a parcel.

And then there’s the asthma. Honestly, with Melbourne’s hyperbaric chambers making medical headlines right now, I’d really like to see if they can put that one to bed for good. I know, oxygen therapy isn’t really, properly FOR asthma, but it’s been getting me down a lot recently. Just…like, I had to drop playing lacrosse because I couldn’t even make it through a game. Breathing just gets really difficult, and then I can’t really go on even though I might want to. Not a good feeling. Makes me wish I was born about ten years earlier, because then oxygen therapy would be way more advanced. It’s all oxygen chambers right now, and they’re a bit clunky. Not everyone can just have a whole oxygen chamber in their bedroom, you know? My room isn’t that big. But then in the future, oxygen technology will probably be a little bit better. You can carry it around with you, all sports clubs will have some oxygen services like they’re as normal as having a fridge, and asthma maybe won’t be so much of a problem. So instead of the oxygen chambers in Melbourne right now- which are fine, for what they do- it’ll be way more portable. Like an epipen, but for oxygen. An oxy…pen. So that’s another thing I hate. Not living in the future, where oxy-pens are commonplace.

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