Tuesday evening I had an exercise tolerance test to document the need for oxygen during exercise. Instead of the super-duper test I've done in the past on the treadmill with increasing grade and speed, they had me do a 6 minute walk test which consists of walking back and forth in a hallway as quickly as possible for 6 minutes. I felt a little bit like a duck in a shooting gallery going from one end of the hall to another, but it must be a frequent occurrence in the PT hallway at MGH because nobody even did a double take. I hauled ass, sweated like a dog and my O2 sats dropped to an unhealthy 83%. Matt, the pulmonary PT, was not pleased. Neither was I.
After he explained the risks of having a low sat for extended periods of time he said I was definitely going to need oxygen for activity and he wanted me to keep my sats over 90%. Ok, not a problem. He was very sweet and said he was sorry. Nah, it's fine, I replied. I was prepared for this. Staying healthy is the most important thing and if this is what I need to do it, then I'm ok with it. He gave me the encouraging speech that this may well be temporary, just as my lungs recover from the latest infection and round of IVs. Could be in a couple months I can stop using it, but on the other hand, I shouldn't be disappointed if I need to continue with it. Oh yes, I'm very zen about it, I don't have any expectations and will just wait and see. Even I was impressed at how well I was handling it.
That is, until the guy delivering the equipment showed up the next day. I have the good sense (after the fact, anyway) to realize that I probably would have had the same reaction regardless of his behavior and attitude, I know I was reacting to the situation more than his demeanor. It's so much easier to be angry with a person than a situation over which I have no control.
First off, the driver got lost and was quite annoyed at the maze that is our neighborhood. I can absolutely understand that, it is aggravating. But he kept talking about it, again and again. He then proceeded to huff and puff this big compressor and several smaller oxygen tanks up our 4 front steps, which looked like it took quite a bit of effort on his part. After his reaction to getting lost I figured I wouldn't tell him they needed to go up to the bedroom on the 2nd floor!
He started to explain about the cleaning and maintenance and I jotted down a few notes. "You don't need to do that, I have everything in the packet". I was probably being overly sensitive but his tone was definitely a bit sharp. "What about a more portable tank for when I walk/work outside?" His reply was: "I'm going to get to that, you have to let me tell you about this first". Whoa. My eyes teared up. "Do you have allergies or something?". Yeah, that's definitely it, allergies.
When he realized I was upset his tone softened and he started calling me "sweetie". Gag! That just made me cry more. "Is this difficult for you?" Hm... what do YOU think? I couldn't even speak at that point for fear of totally losing my composure. What an idiot: I'm 45 years old and you're bringing an oxygen compressor and portable tanks into my house. Now why in the world would I be upset???
Clearly uncomfortable, he went through the rest of his spiel (without interruption from me, I might add) and then asked if I had any questions. Nope, I'm good. Now get the hell out of my house. His parting line was: "when you get refill tanks, you better give directions to the driver, 'cuz they're probably going to get lost".
I should try to have some compassion for this guy but at the moment I had trouble accessing it. We do have something in common, though: there isn't a cure for stupidity, either.