On a recent trip to Las Vegas, Alex and I stumbled upon an Oxygen Bar. There sat an entire family of 5 on bar stools all hooked up to nasal cannulas laughing and taking selfies. I found it hilarious that people found oxygen support to be a tourist attraction!
Rowan did not go on vacation with us, mainly due to the fact that he’s still on oxygen. It would be possible for us to take him, but I don’t think it would be fun for any of us, including Rowan.
“How much longer will he be on oxygen?”
If I had a penny for every time I was asked that…just kidding! I love that people love Rowan. I’m thankful that our friends and family want to know how he’s doing and feel comfortable asking us questions. He’s my favorite conversation topic, so keep the inquiries coming!
We visited Rowan’s pulmonologist recently, so here’s the scoop!
As with everything since before he was born, Rowan runs the show. Basically “when he’s ready” is the real answer to the question. But what does it look like for him to be ready to lose the O2?
We’ve been waiting on Rowan to grow healthy lung tissue. Being intubated did a number on his lungs causing tissue damage, but as he grows, new healthy tissue grows! Since he’s a slow-grower, it’s taken longer than it would for an average preemie.
I know that his lungs are getting healthier because when his nasal cannula comes out for a short time, his oxygen saturation stays up. Also, the last time he was sick he did not require hospitalization for breathing issues!
The big issue, though, has to do with calories! What’s the connection between his lungs and calories (because I know that sounds nuts)? Breathing burns calories, and in Rowan’s case, he doesn’t have any to spare. Supplying him with extra oxygen allows his lungs to do less work. His pulmonologist is concerned that if we take away his oxygen, his weight gain will slow or even stop.
Interestingly, lung growth depends more on body length than weight alone. So we can’t just fatten him up, he needs to grow all around. I’ve also learned recently from another oxygen mama that most of lung development occurs by age two. I don’t know what this means for Rowan’s lung volume as an adult, but I’ll definitely be asking at our next appointment.
Rowan has started sprinting for one hour a day! He didn’t join the track team; it’s a fancy term for turning the oxygen off. For 60 minutes a day, he’s free from the clear tubing trailing behind him. This is a good first step towards weaning off O2, but I think it’s here to stay for a while longer.
So, when will Rowan be off oxygen? When he’s ready, his lungs are even healthier, and he’s growing consistently. Growth trumps all the hassle of lugging oxygen equipment around! One day, we’ll all be free to take as many adventures as we please. In the meantime, I think I’ll try making a little extra money by opening an Oxygen Bar in my house? Who’s in?
If you’re a mama with a little one (or big one) on oxygen, just breathe! When people ask that question over and over, just breathe and reply, “When he/she’s ready.” Remember, they’re only asking because they care!
You may also enjoy reading Not Just A Crib, our story of hope.