Monday, May 27, 2019

Playing the Numbers

One of the social sins that can impoverish us ethically and financially is gambling.  “Playing the numbers” is something that I have never wanted to try,  By nature I am a “penny pincher” so I cannot even imagine taking chances with money.  I agree with a friend who used to say, “I’ve been blessed financially.  I’ve had enough money to buy everything I needed and some of the things I’ve wanted.  But I’ve never had enough money to risk throwing it away!”

But I am discovering that there are non-monetary ways of “playing the numbers” and I have little choice but to play.  My aging and scarred lungs cannot take in as much oxygen as my body requires.  So I have to give them supplemental oxygen constantly in order for my body to function. 

I wear a little`device around my neck - an oximeter - that tells me numerically whether my body is getting enough oxygen.  At 90% or more, I’m at a functional level.  If the reading is in the 80s or 70s, my body is getting “oxygen hungry” and needs a boost.  I can usually tell  by the way my body feels but sometimes a spell of “oxygen starvation” can come on quickly.  Then I have to check the oximeter reading to make sure what is going on!  So even though I’ve never wanted to gamble, life and declining health are forcing me to “play the numbers” frequently!

Several weeks ago a friend and a hired helper took me to an appointment at my lung doctor’s office while Bruce was recuperating from his heart surgery in the hospital.  The doctor’s staff always invites me to use their oxygen tank to save use on my own tank.  We were talking together paying no attention to the oxygen tank when suddenly I began to rapidly get very short of breath.  My oximeter reported low 70s.  I was in trouble!

I glanced at the oxygen tank I was connected to -- and it was empty!  The staff quickly got me connected back to my own tank and I could breathe again.  What a relief!

We headed home from the doctor’s office and I got out of the car to walk into the house -  but could not even stand up.  My own tank of oxygen had run empty and my number was at 55%!  I was in big trouble!  I was losing consciousness as they quickly got me into the wheelchair we were wise enough to take along.  I don’t know how they got me into the house and re-connected to my oxygen concentrator, but they did it somehow!  (The concentrator is a machine that converts room air into oxygen and so provides a constant supply.)

It took several hours to recover from that event but it did teach me to check more often to see how much oxygen there is left in a tank!

We’ve learned a lot in the past 18 months about the use and care of a supplemental oxygen system.  But, even so, it still often feels like a gamble, a game of chance.  I’m  “playing the numbers” to survive.  But perhaps that is the penance I must do for passing judgment on other people’s sins!

MarySue Helstern Rosenberger
27 May 2019