British Lung Foundation
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Having to go back to work with oxygen

Hello, I’m new here. After being given a salbutamol inhaler for 3 years for asthma, I was admitted to hospital in September with oxygen 85, and again 2 months later in November this year with the same reading. I’m now on oxygen 24/7. 1 litre at rest and 3 litre on movement, walking, stairs etc. My oxygen reading is now 90.

I’m employed full time at a desk job. I wondered if anyone had returned to work using oxygen. Is it really manageable? I realise it is probably better that I reduce my hours, I have the advantage of flexible working. Mornings have been the worst recently so probably look at 12-5 as a start.

I’m so confused as to what to do? If anyone has gone back to work, I’d love to hear how you have gone on. Thank you.

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Hi Smee2 .

I was put in oxygen well after I left my full time job as a teacher but now I teach just one class a week. I think it is manageable if you are not required to be moving around a lot but you mentioned desk job so I would imagine you'd be sitting most of the time?

I don't have to keep this one class but the thing is I really miss teaching and I enjoy this class I am teaching. It keeps me connected in some way with my expertise and it forces me to interact with wider society. If you enjoy what you do, I would give it a shot. I don't think you will know unless you try.

Don't stress too much, you will get used to the oxygen and soon it just becomes part of life. If you like the job and you feel good physically and mentally on your full time roster, I would definitely try. But if you find it too much, make changes to adapt to your condition. Having those flexible hours certainly makes a huge difference.

Wishing you well.

Cas xx 🍓

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Such a lovely reply and every word makes sense, I won’t know unless I try. My old Dad used to say that the easiest thing in the world is to give up, so I’m not (yet) going to.

I’ll possibly agree a set number of hours and vary how I work them for my benefit. Also, I really would miss my colleagues, they have all been supportive..

Thank you Cas for taking the time to reply, I really do appreciate it.

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Your old dad is right. 😃 And your colleagues are supportive. How very wonderful👏. I should imagine they are a bit of a support network in their own way.

In any case, whatever you decide, always, always put yourself first. You so deserve it. xx 🌹💖🎄

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I wouldn't rush to make changes until you have got used to having the oxygen. We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning and have something to look forward to and give us a break from thinking about our condition. Sure your body will tell you if you if you are doing too much. Take care joyce

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This time, I am not rushing back to work until I am ready. Getting used to living with additional oxygen, the machines, the tanks, the carriers and tubing is a daunting task but something I think I’ll manage in time. My GP has been wonderful, she has given me a cover note for another 4 weeks. Occupational Health at work have agreed that I can work Ad Hoc during this period, so if I work a full day and feel over tired, then I do not have to go in the day after.

Everything is in place except for my emotions

Your reply has been very helpful to me Joyce, thank you.

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Hi Smee2, I am also on oxygen 24/7. In September I returned to work, I am a teaching assistant in a year 3 class I work from 8.30 - 12.00 Mon-Fri and have to say that if enough for me now. I have to take a simply-go to work with me plus there is a back up of oxygen bottles at work just in case, I have to plug myself in so I am usually based towards the back of the class but it's working at the moment. I would recommend that anyone with oxygen should try and stay at work it gives you so much independence. I say to anyone that asks "just because my lungs are not working properly my brain still is so if I can work I will". I am very lucky I have a good support network at school eg: my colleagues, parents and the children, everyone is brilliant, especially the children. I wish you all the best with returning to work. I'm not sure if you drive? but if you don't and have to use public transport you may wish to get in touch with 'Access to Work' they were great for me they now pay for me to get a taxi to and from work witch is a god send I can tell you.

Wishing you all the Very Best

Dizzy100 :)

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Oh Dizzy ! How encouraging your message is. Thank you so much for sharing your working day details. I love the quote too “just because my lungs are not working properly my brain still is so if I can work I will”. That really good 😄 my colleague are so good, I have been there 17 years, and all levels of staff have been really supportive. I do drive and have use of a car but I live within walkable distance (on a good day) so use that as my exercise. I have a route that takes me past 3 covered bus shelters, so I sit there for a while to get my breath. Horrible Winter days I struggle with. I’ve applied for a blue badge, whether I get it is another matter. I did read up on Access to Work, maybe I’ll contact them regarding getting a taxi, it’s worth remembering!

I won’t know what I can do until I go back and give it a try. I’m awaiting a new machine (tomorrow) to walk/drive to work with, so I’ll report back then.

I can’t thank you enough for help and ideas, I’m so new to all this but if I stop and think, I get emotional and teary, I am sure you understand?

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Hi Smee2,

Your very welcome :) I know what it's like, as I said I only started having to have oxygen in the summer holidays and believe me I have gone through every possible emotion as I am sure you are and we still will at times, but try and keep your chin up.

I hope your new machine does the job for you. I'm hear if you want to talk.

Take care

Dizzy100 :)

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