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  1. #1
    Bobtail Member
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    COPD, DOT and Oxygen Therapy

    My husband has just been diagnosed with COPD. The rules from
    DOT are "in most cases, the use of oxygen therapy while driving is disqualifying".

    Does this mean that he can use oxygen therapy from a oxygen concentrator (machine, not bottles) while sleeping or on his own time in the truck?

    A oxygen concentrator takes air around the machine, concentrates it, and is used immediately by the person, and is also approved for airline travel.

    There is no stored oxygen in the concentrator.

    I have emailed the DOT and their wording in the regs leaves a lot out. It specifically says "driving" and does not address non-driving/sleep times a trucker is in his truck.

    This event is very overwhelming. He has six years before retirement, and of course insurance is tied to employers or social secucity medicare.

    Thanks for your input. We really need it.


  2. #2
    Heavy Load Member shookup's Avatar
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    I'm so sorry this has happened to your husband. I work in the "oxygen business" so I took note of your title. I hope the DOT has some good news for you in that I would not see a problem with a concentrator in the cab during sleep time as long as he can get the required power to it. They are power hogs. He can request a smaller travel concentrator from his oxygen provider. Is his prescription for it only for night use at this point? If it is and he is a smoker, he needs to stop NOW if he hopes to make it 6 years to retirement without having to go to 24-hour oxygen. Once he hits that level he will be faced with using a liquid oxygen portable or cylinders of oxygen, neither of which will work for driving a truck, as you already seem to know. COPD is progressive, but even more so if one continues to smoke, so he must stop now if he is a smoker because it just speeds it all up. I speak from working in the industry and from having a dad who is currently in end-stage COPD and still smoking. Good luck!

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  4. #3
    Bobtail Member
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    oxygen therapy

    thanks shookup. yes, we have just purchased a small travel concentrators because of the power hog tendancies of the larger unit, and yes it is only for off time or sleeping. i agree with you about the smoking, but you can only lead the horse to water, but you can't make 'em drink it.

    i don't know why smokers are not more concerned about who they leave behind and what devastation they leave when there is a probate and you have to pick yourself up and move on.

    they don't seem to care about the consequences of their actions. but im trying to keep him going. i need him. And he needs to stay working, so I will try my best to badger him. thanks for the input.

  5. #4
    Heavy Load Member MO family man's Avatar
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    I fail to see why an O2 bottle couldn't be used during non driving times. I think the DOT is of the mind that if a driver is dependant upon it then he'd be in a world of hurt if it failed. That I imagine would get ugly quickly. Personally I'd love to have an O2 bottle in the truck as that I know no better cure for a headache.

  6. #5
    Heavy Load Member shookup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MO family man View Post
    I fail to see why an O2 bottle couldn't be used during non driving times. I think the DOT is of the mind that if a driver is dependant upon it then he'd be in a world of hurt if it failed.
    For someone needing oxygen for even sleep times only the O2 cylinders are just not practical. Depending on the dosage needed, the standard size cylinder will only last 1-4 hours. It could conceivably run out then while someone is sleeping and the dosage be interrupted, not to mention the number of cylinders that one must then carry along to have enough. Liquid oxygen portables last longer, but then one has to have a source for the liquid to refill them with, and with liquid being so explosive you just can't take it on a big truck. There are just not a lot of options once you have to go on oxygen. I counsel new patients every day on the new limitations they have in their life, and its sad because from then on they always have to consider taking the right amount of oxygen with them wherever they go. My summer has been spent helping people plan vacations and working with them on somehow taking enough oxygen with them. Its a REAL pain, and people get very frustrated because their choices are often dictated by their oxygen needs. Without proper oxygen the brain gets deprived and judgement is definitely impaired, thus the problem with people driving.

    As to the smoking, I totally understand how hard it is to quit smoking, but truly the body can take it for only so long and oxygen cylinders and oxygen machines are not a pretty future. I have one patient, an elderly lady dying of emphysema who says she smoked for 40 years, loved every single cigarette, but says she is paying for it now with every single struggling breath. The saddest part of COPD and emphysema is the regret that comes when you suffer so and know that you brought it all on yourself. It is rare for someone to get those diseases and not have been a smoker, so they are definitely preventable in theory, but once you start smoking it is SO hard to stop, and people always feel "It won't happen to me." Sadly with smoking, it usually does. It is also rare to find someone in their 70s who is/was a smoker who is NOT on oxygen. Truly, if you are a smoker, STOP NOW. It WILL catch up to you, and the price for every puff is higher than you may realize. Okay, off my soap box this morning.

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