One of the many treatments Maggie has to endure every day is “The Vest.” The vest was designed for people with pulmonary problems. The patient puts on the vest, which is hooked up to a machine that inflates the vest then shakes and vibrates the lungs. It shakes loose all the built up secretions that a person with healthy lungs clears on their own. My understanding is that the inventor of this machine had a couple of kids with cystic fibrosis (CF) and this machine is particularly helpful in that area. Maggie does not have CF, but many of her problems are similar to a patient who does. This machine has made a huge difference n the lives of many people. The treatment is not painful; in fact, it can even be fun. You just hook it up and it starts shaking your body.
We have actually had the machine for a long time. We used to use it all the time before Maggie got her trach. In fact, it probably delayed the need for the trach. Once Maggie adapted to the trach her respiratory status improved dramatically. The vest stopped working and I never got around to calling the company. (Really just the power cord needed replacing.) I meant to call and get a new one, but weeks and then months went by. However, Maggie was doing better and the machine made its way to the basement.
Maggie’s recent illness was quite scary. She was in the ICU with a respiratory flu. They had the vest going 4 times a day. Of course the machine in the hospital is newer and about 1/3 the size of the one we have. When we went home, I promised to contact the company and get our machine replaced or repaired so we could start using it again. I did not even have to worry about keeping that promise. The pulmonologists office called the Hill-Rom company who distributes the vest and they contacted me immediately. They sent out a new power cord, tubing and a vest via Fed Ex, so I had it the next day. That is incredible service. We are back in business.
The problem is there is so much equipment in Maggie’ room - oxygen tank, suction machine, pulse oximeter, feeding pump, tubes and other supplies for each and all the other medical supplies - we cannot fit anything else. I was secretly hoping the machine needed replacing so we could get the newer, smaller one, and maybe be able to squeeze it in behind the chair or something, but it was not to be. The vest machine now stays in the dining room when it is not in use. Since the treatment is only 20 minutes, that means it is in the dining room 23.5 hours a day. We need to do something. Steve is going to put it on wheels so we can move it easily, but I have a feeling it is a permanent part of my dining room décor for a while.
We were discussing the various treatments Maggie has to go through as well as our overflowing house. I suggested Steve consider trying some of Maggie's treatments for his cold, which made a return appearance this week. He was standing in the dining room and indicating the vest machine said, “I was thinking of just strapping this on my back and heading to work. I will look like a Gemini astronaut.”