The Oxygen Chamber Experience (308th new thing).

April 17, 2012 § 2 Comments

On Day Three Hundred Eight I paid someone to zip me into a plastic spaceship filled with oxygen for an hour, aka a Hyperbaric Chamber. I stumbled upon the idea via one of the half-off discount sites, and decided to try it out.  I had dabbled in homeopathy and seen a chiropractor; breathing in pure oxygen for an hour was hippie enough to be another similar new experience. After work I drove myself to the Wellness Center in Alpharetta for an hour of breathing.

Everyone at the chiropractic office was very nice and I felt totally comfortable…until I climbed into the deflated oxygen tank. It looked like some strange spaceship pod. With only a thin unzipped slit on the side, climbing in was challenging. I channeled my inner snake an ungracefully slithered into the chamber. Quickly my mind drifted towards claustrophobic thoughts as the chiropractor started zipping up my only escape route. I felt a hyperventilation coming on, but managed to calm myself enough to continue.

As the pod inflated (with me inside), my head began to fog and fill with pressure, similar to taking off in a 747. Through the plastic window to the right of my head, the administrator kept asking if my ears had popped. I knew my left one had, several times, but the right stubbornly resisted attending the oxygen party. Eventually the pressure subsided enough for me to assure my caregiver that I felt great. We hit level four and everything calmed. I was allowed to put the oxygen mask on and lie back and relax.

I breathed deeply and reveled in the fact that the pressure between my ears had finally dissipated. At first I just laid there, but then remembered reading something about how laughing brings oxygen to the brain and lungs more quickly than normal in and out breathing. I don’t know of it was true or not, but to take advantage of the idea I pulled out my phone and visited AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, which never fails to make me laugh.

I tried listening to music and napping, but mostly I just lay on my back looking around the small space. I couldn’t tell if I felt any different from before I crawled into the chamber. I didn’t have any sort of “oxygen high” or anything.

After an hour, the chiropractor returned to deflate the pod. It felt just as bad as the inflation process. My head filled with pressure as I tried desperately to pop my ears. If I had oxygen treatments regularly I would hate to go through such annoyance at either end of the sessions. Finally, when the pressure inside returned to that of outside, the plastic device was unzipped and I moved to slide back out. I managed to limbo through the opening before landing with a thud on the floor outside.

My oxygen levels were taken through a clamp applied to my finger and I was told that my levels were very high. Whaaa? Why didn’t they take a “reading” before the oxygen experience? I nodded my head in a fake appreciation of the information and headed out the door. On the way home I tried to think about if I had felt any different from when I had entered the building, but I have a feeling that any perceptible change was just a side effect of the placebo effect. While oxygen therapy is indeed a medical procedure designed to improve people’s health, I seriously wondered about the plastic tank in the wellness center. I don’t think this experience will be on my list of things to try again.

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