Someone asked recently about Hyberbaric Oxygen treatment for non-healing tissues or around dental extractions. I believe it is recommended less frequently now but that it is still carried out for some difficult cases. Here is a story I put together 2-3 years ago about one of our members. Sue McDonnell,who had tongue cancer a year before, was offered HBO treatment in Christchurch to help heal the recurring ulcers in her mouth. 

Sue’s story

Have lost Sue’s photo but this is a modern HBO unit.

I did four weeks of HBO. It was an interesting experience. The staff were great and I felt privileged to be able to do it even though It was really hard being away from home.

I was in the chamber for two hours every day Monday to Friday. Going down you get quite warm. Can’t remember the physics of this but some will know. They take you down quickly in 10 minutes so you constantly have to equalise by blowing gently with nostrils closed. Similar to diving.

Going down quickly was the worst part but it got easier and one nurse suggested having little sips of water all the time over the 10 mins which I did and it helped a lot to keep my ears popping.

When you get down to 14 metres, you wear an oxygen mask for two hours. They let you take it off for 10 mins after one hour for a quick toilet break and drink. The unit is still down at 14 metres so the toilet is next door and pressurised behind a big heavy door.

Then it’s oxygen mask back on for another hour. For the last 30 mins you come up gradually and during this time it gets very cold so they wrapped me in blankets. I found this the hardest part and was really worried about catching a cold as knew I would never be able to do the dives with a cold. Hence the pyjamas and warm red socks that i had to wear every day. My sinuses really hurt a lot.

I was fortunate, though. I was well during the whole month.

There was always a nurse in with us and usually two or three patients with other problems such as prostate cancer radiation damage or leg ulcers that wouldn’t heal conventionally. There many positive reports of how great it is for healing

It’s very flammable because of the 100% oxygen you breathe in so they are very cautious about anything flammable. Every day they check: no cell phones watches etc allowed. You need a good book as all you can do is read.

They say we may not see any results for three months and can still get good results up to five years. I have noticed the ulcers on the side of my tongue heal more quickly now. They used to be there for months and now heal in a few weeks, so that’s great. But they still keep coming back.

I am really hoping it will help saliva to come or at least improve it but they give no guarantees. I have had a slight a improvement so far.

I am really hopeful I will still see benefits.