The Airsep Focus: A Patient’s View
By Malcolm Weallans
When I was first prescribed Oxygen for exercise, I was told that I would be okay on 2 litres per minute. I was supplied with 2 Oxygen cylinders from Air Liquide, but with a little sleight of hand, I was able to increase this to 4 cylinders. The cylinders weigh about 3.5 Kilograms (7.5 pounds) and at 2 lpm would only last 3.5 hours.
I am a keen walker, ballroom dancer and tenpin bowler. I found the cylinder okay for shorter walks and never attempted the longer ones with a cylinder. For dancing and bowling, I could not even attempt to use Oxygen while exercising. So I started looking for alternatives. I looked at the Airsep Freestyle, but the weight was little different to the cylinder and wearing that weight whilst dancing or bowling was a no-no. At the time, I read the literature for the Airsep Focus, but it wasn’t available yet. So I survived by taking Oxygen between dances, and just coped without whilst bowling. I strapped the cylinder on my back for my walks, but confined myself to shorter walks when the weather was good. I even went on an Alps walking holiday with no Oxygen for ten days. We had to curtail some of our walks and not attempt the more strenuous walks.
So when I found myself with some spare cash earlier this year I looked again and the Airsep Focus was now available. I bought one. I also bought 2 spare batteries as each battery only last 1.5 hours and we often spend 4-6 hours on the mountains on our Alps holidays.
My experience in the UK using the Focus for walks was quite good, and I managed a 2 hour walk with no problem, even changing the battery while continuing to walk. For dancing, it has been a godsend. I can now dance with the Focus on. This has caused quite a bit of consternation amongst other dancers, but they are getting used to seeing me striding out doing a quickstep, a foxtrot, or even a lively jive. I’ve also used it between frames when tenpin bowling. I find the weight affects my balance for bowling. And I’ve even used it for walking in the Alps. I have found it to help when walking at altitude. When at rest in the town of Adelboden (1350 metres above sea level), my oxygen saturation was 92-93 (in the UK, it was 96), but when walking downhill, I noticed that my sats dropped to 87 without Oxygen, but were stable at 90 with Oxygen. However, walking uphill, and in Adelboden that means steep uphill, my sats dropped to the low 80s and even the high 70s But that was at an elevation of nearer 1900 metres.
Battery life has been quite good and, by turning the Oxygen off when resting, we stayed out for over 4 hours with only two batteries. I am conscious all the time that I need to conserve batteries, but I certainly couldn’t do any of this on Oxygen cylinders.
But, and it is a big but, the Airsep Focus can only provide 2 litres per minute. It can’t be turned up or down and it is pulse equivalent to 2 litres as well.
My general conclusion is that, for most of my UK activities, it has been a worthwhile investment. I don’t have to remember to order Oxygen cylinders any more, and I am safe in the knowledge that, provided I don’t overdo things, the Airsep Focus will help me continue to exercise. But the thing none of us know is how much longer we can work at this level of Oxygen.