As I wrote previously hyperbaric oxygen helps the stem cells proliferate after insertion and it looks like the mechanism is an increase in Nitric oxide. Dr. Marshall Ravden, the stem cell implant surgeon gave me a prescription for 40 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen, necessarily taken over a narrow period of time to consolidate the stem cell benefits. They suggested renting or purchasing a unit, but I could just see telling Larry that our apartment dining room was to be taken over by a 7’x4′ diameter inflated hyperbaric chamber and that the cat would need to be relegated to the bedroom! Not gonna happen.
The good 100% oxygen chambers almost all seemed to be in hospitals where they only took insurance (at $2000 a pop!) but I found one in Queens and another, New Focus Hyperbaric in Great Neck where a GroupOn special was going on. The chamber, shown above, was clear, had a television to distract me, was not quite as large as I had hoped but had a full-time compassionate attendant so I wouldn’t be deserted as happened in the Manhattan soft chamber. Sessions last about 2 hours.
Now I occasionally suffer from claustrophobia in airplanes, but it is easily remedied by sitting in an aisle seat so I can walk around and I use Stand-Up MRI if I need radiology, so it rarely happens to bother me. I used to scuba dive so I knew what pressure felt like and how to clear my ears. So I got my required chest X-ray and was cleared by the resident neurologist. But the second trip in threw me into a tizzy: the bottom of my foot itched, it was in hard spasm and annoyingly Bobby Jindall was being endlessly interviewed on CNN. I had the attendant talk me down a few times then came out to relax before going in again. I went in for another try but didn’t spend much time at full pressure. The next day I had a panic attack on the subway which I have been riding without incident for 35 years so cancelled my session. I felt claustrophobic lying in bed surrounded by my comforter or when listening to dissonant New Music on NPR- the claustrophobia was leaking into my life. (At least it gives me more insight into what patients are going through!) I asked for suggestions on Facebook and my wonderful friends gave suggestions in troves.
The suggestions ran the gamut from sedatives to acupuncture treatments, homeopathics to cell-level visualizations, prayers to reiki, breathing patterns to a reminder that this was a First World Problem I was lucky to have . A few people suggested that I was repressing something -honestly I think it is just that I fill up a chamber more than a smaller person and can move around less. Three people jumped in instantly with the words from Frank Herbert’s Litany of Fear, when I requested it. I did EFT tapping and bled my UB luo point, inserted needles at LI2 and H5, did breathing exercises gave myself a shot of a skullcap formula and liberally breathed in essential oil of lavender. I also requested a prescription for a sedative and asked for puppies and kittens instead of the news on TV. Animal Planet was unaccountably playing the World’s Filthiest Jobs that day which included scraping hides at a tannery, so that didn’t work. This time I spent a half hour at full pressure plus 15 minutes of pressurization. The attendant decided to lower the wedge and ditch the knee pillow so I would have more room next time. And he cleared me to bring in a sippy cup which I filled with coconut water and a vanilla bean found to decrease claustrophobia in a German study,
And the sedatives, with more space, made the difference. I still reminded myself that it was a First World Problem and tried chants, prayers and breathing patterns. I whistled songs. I sipped. And I relaxed. I might not be a pill person but I need the oxygen more than I need to be an herbal purist. It has worked twice.