Just Passin’ Time

Solly and the HBOT chamber

Solly in his submarine

This morning, Solly and I finished our 5th of 40 dives in our second round of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

As I’ve told folks about this therapy over the past few days, the biggest question I’ve gotten is: how the heck do you pass the time in that chamber? During our first round of treatment, the answer to this question was easy: we were in a sleek, all-glass chamber with a TV on the outside, so we’d watch an hour of Sesame Street or Fixer Upper and our time in the chamber would pass by rather quickly. However, the local facility where we’re doing our second round of HBOT has a very different chamber called the Fortius 420, which looks a bit like a submarine – it’s fairly dark, has three small windows, and no TV (eek!). This difference is, in part, what led to my anxiety before we began our second round of treatment. I kept worrying, “How was I going to entertain a 3-year-old in an enclosed space for over an hour every day….. and stay sane?”

In sum, we spend 75 minutes in the chamber. We “descend” to a pressure of 1.5 atmospheres for about 7 minutes, we are at that depth for 60 minutes, and then we “ascend” for about 7 minutes. We’re allowed to bring a bottle for Solly to drink, a few books, and some approved toys.

For the time descending and ascending, Solly has his bottle to help his body adjust to the new pressure. I use the remaining time to work on some of our therapy routines that I would otherwise do at home. The one huge benefit to the Fortius 420 chamber is that it’s over 3 feet in height and 7 feet long, so we’ve some room to sit up and move around, allowing our time inside to be rather productive. I break the 60 minutes into 15 minute chunks of time. During each chunk of time, Solly and I read a book (we’ve really gotten into the Llama Llama books lately) and I talk to him about what we see on each of the pages. While we read, I usually have him sitting, side-sitting, or in quadruped so we’re simultaneously working on his core and arm strength. We’ll then work through arm and leg stretches while singing silly songs. If we have any time left in our chunk of time, we’ll play with his toys. So far, I’ve brought some toys that work on some of his occupational therapy skills, like the Oball Shape Sorter and the Surprise! What’s Inside toy box.

Before I know it, our time in the chamber is up and we head home to see Bea or on to Solly’s next appointment.

Five dives down, 35 more to go!

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