Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment: The Blood Sugar Cons

hyperbaric oxygen chamberWhen I first made the trek to Pittsburgh for my foot, the first doctor that I saw there mentioned the possibility of using Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment. The wound center I went to called it HBO so that is what I generally say, but HBOT is the commonly accepted term.

Recently a friend of mine emailed to ask me about HBO. Her mother is not diabetic, but had a problem and they were thinking of having her do HBO. After her mother started, my friend emailed and mentioned what her mother was having to go thru with blood sugar and it reminded of the bad part of HBO.

I had the first surgery for my foot on March 10th and the third surgery which was for the bone graft was done on May 31st. In August, my foot was still not healed so they decided to start me on the HBO. I ended up doing a total of 60 treatments. One round at the wound center I went to was for 30 treatments and I did two. They had to have a doctor certified in HBO on site while anyone was in the chamber. A doctor would come in and check your ears and heart before and after treatment.

The original doctor I saw was also one of the doctors for HBO. I saw the original doctor at least once a week in HBO. I continued under the care of the doctor that he called in to do my surgery. That doctor was a podiatrist that was a foot and ankle surgeon and was not one of the doctors in HBO. When I was coming down to the end of round one, the original doctor said that I would be doing a second round. The doctor that did my surgery said that the other doctor was an “HBO monster” and he did not feel that I needed to do a second round. I wanted my foot to close and I ended up doing the second round.

The doctor I currently see for my foot is one of the doctors that I saw in HBO. I knew from talking to both him and his other patients that he was a very good doctor so when I needed to find a new doctor, I went to see him. He feels that I went thru way more than I should have and I tend to agree with him. Unfortunately at the time, I didn’t know the things that I know today.

One big issue is blood sugar. The wound center that I went to required our blood sugar to be either 140 or 150 (I can’t remember which it was but I know it was high) before we entered the chamber. The nurse in HBO was specially trained to do that and she attended several conferences on it. She felt that their blood sugar range was higher than what was actually recommended.

It was a struggle with me with the gastroparesis. I bought all kinds of stuff that I did not normally eat to try to get my blood sugar up. I would eat a banana before heading over there in the morning. As soon as I got to the waiting room, I would test my blood sugar and start eating glucose tablets. I was normally the middle round and would be in the chamber over lunch. I would take a sandwich and eat that while sitting in the waiting room. When I would get back to the HBO room, the nurse would usually ask how many glucose tablets I had. Most days, they would also start stuffing me with food and glucose. On a low day when I would get out of the chamber, I would be in the 200s. Most days, I was in the 3 or 4 hundreds by the time I got out.

My friend emailed me about her non-diabetic mother and told me that they wanted her blood sugar at least 120 so would also give her glucose tablets. I thought that was crazy because she isn’t diabetic. The wound center I went to did not test the blood sugar of non-diabetics.

I understand that they have to be worried about lows while in the chamber – they can’t just open the door and pop you out. They sent everyone in with a drink and you could take juice with you if you wanted. I didn’t like to drink while in there because that created another problem but they insisted that I have something. The regular nurse knew that I did not drink anything that was sent in, so she would just send an empty cup with me – if someone came in and saw I didn’t have one, she would get in trouble.

The highs cause slow healing so ending up high every day defeated the purpose of doing HBO. Last summer I had a blister on my foot and it healed up pretty fast. The doctor I see is a wound care specialist and he told me that he never saw a diabetic foot do what it was supposed to do before. I have seen the difference between whacky blood sugars and normal blood sugar.

If I am ever in a situation that I need to do HBO again, I will ask what the blood sugar policy is before doing it at that center. If it is 140 or above like it was where I went to, I will find a different center.
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2 thoughts on “Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment: The Blood Sugar Cons

  1. That’s very interesting about the relationship between wound healing and blood sugar. My doctors have been telling me that for years, and I guess it’s time for me to take that seriously.

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