POCs: ‘You didn’t have to worry as much,’ cruiser says

Friday, October 31, 2008

Len Jozwiak, a 64-year-old from Reading, Pa., with pulmonary hypertension and COPD, is an experienced cruiser. He’s been on three of the last four cruises organized by the American Respiratory Alliance of Western Pennsylvania, including this year’s cruise to Alaska (See Story page 1), and he plans to go on many more. But he wasn’t always so adventurous. Jozwiak was devastated when he learned, six years ago, that he would have to be on oxygen 24-7. He spoke with HME News about how he hasn’t let his condition hold him back.

HME News: How’d you get over the shock of being told by your doctor that you needed to be on oxygen?

Len Jozwiak: Initially, it scared the hell out of me. I was only in my late 50s at the time. I thought, “Oh man, I’m on oxygen; I have one year to go and I’m done.” I stayed home from work for three weeks. But I got over it. My doctor couldn’t give me any guarantees, but he said, “There’s a very good chance you won’t have any problems.” I went back to work for almost a year. Then it became too much-my job was a little stressful-and I went on disability.

hme: You’ve seen some pretty big changes in oxygen technology over the past six years.

Jozwiak: Oh my goodness, yes. This past year, I’ve seen the biggest changes, with all the portable oxygen concentrators.

hme: Speaking of POCs-did using Respironics’ EverGo give you more independence for the cruise and for day trips?

Jozwiak: Absolutely. The medical staff on the boat would say, “Where are you going; how long are you going to be out; why don’t you take this extra battery, just in case?” With the extra battery, instead of eight hours of oxygen, we had 14 hours, and we even had enough to switch to a higher liter flow if we needed to. You didn’t have to worry as much.

hme: What advice would you give manufacturers as they look to improve POCs?
Jozwiak: It would be great if they would just keep trying to get these things down to a more manageable size. That way you can carry it over your shoulder instead of wheeling it behind you. So something smaller and more lightweight. Also, the ability to flip back and forth between constant and pulse dose would be a nicety.