blast off

blast off

The latest salvo to be launched against MJE’s body’s seemingly unquenchable desire to self-destruct is Hyperbaric Chamber therapy. It involves lying on a gurney inside a plastic tube into which pure oxygen is pumped and pressurized to three times the normal. The purported benefit is an increase in the oxygenation of the blood, stimulating the release of growth factors, promoting the development of stem cells and wound healing. The downside is the possibility of perforated eardrums, lung collapse and seizures, not to mention being blown to bits.

The list of things you are instructed not to bring into the chamber includes lighters, batteries and petroleum based (e.g. flammable) products. You would think that those precautions would be fairly obvious with all that pure oxygen wafting around, but given the vacant look of some of the people I have run across in the center it’s probably best to be specific. Before each session, a tech attaches a grounding wire to MJE’s arm, its purpose presumably to reduce the risk of my ending up either charbroiled or in bits and pieces. MJE is not sure exactly how a puny grounding wire is going to keep a tube of hyper-pressurized oxygen from igniting and blasting off like Sputnik, but the tech assured me it would. Maybe.

The next directive is no underwear! (although it is not clear exactly what sort of interference MJE’s 100% cotton granny underpants might present). Patients are strictly limited to wearing XXX size scrubs in the chamber. MJE prefers to secure her personals in a locker in the changing room but other patients seem perfectly at ease leaving their unmentionables strewn about for the whole wide world to see. That is what MJE charitably characterizes as way too much information.

However, by far the most tiresome aspect of this therapy is the forced tedium. Each session is 90 minutes to 2 hours long five days a week and no diversions of any kind are allowed within the chamber. There is however a television mounted above which offers an endless stream of seventies television shows featuring terrible acting and all of the fashion faux pas we all want to forget from that era: bellbottoms, afros and double knits. Isn’t it enough to suffer the anxiety of immolation and the indignities of stripping down to your altogether in a changing room full of strangers’ underwear without that?

Salt in the wound for sure.