The other day, I was having dinner with my friend Antonia when her dad, Tony, randomly dropped by. He’s a bit of an eccentric chap, Tony. I’ve known him for years. He always has a story on his mind, which he’s generally very keen to share. This time, he regaled us with a tale he’d gotten a guy named Terry who’d delivered a parcel to his house. Terry’s son, Jimmy, had suffered a case of carbon monoxide poisoning last week, and had been fortunate to receive treatment in a timely manner despite being out of town in some place we’d never heard of.
It’s not totally clear how this episode came about – something to do with Jimmy’s truck doing something really weird, and Jimmy being a bit too self-confident about his ability to fix it. For Tony, the main point of interest was Terry’s description of the hyperbaric oxygen therapy equipment (Melbourne readers, have you heard of this?) that was used to treat Jimmy. Tony said he thought it sounded very sci-fi, to which Antonia responded indignantly that this was a very serious situation that shouldn’t be tanken lightly.
Meanwhile, I’d pulled out my phone to look up exactly what hyperbaric oxygen therapy entails. It seems it has to do with enabling a patient to take in more oxygen by spending time in a special chamber with an internal air pressure three times higher than that outside it. Carbon monoxide poisoning is just one of the various conditions that it’s used to treat.
Inappropriately colourful storytelling aside, I guess I’m with Tony in that I’m kind of intrigued by the whole idea of hyperbaric medicine. Portable chambers are even on the market, according to my research, for ongoing use by patients with chronic health complaints. I agree with Antonia that Jimmy’s wellbeing is the first order of concern, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take an interest in this technology.