Finding Inspiration in every BREATH
Hypoxia is low levels of oxygen in your body tissues. It causes symptoms like confusion, restlessness, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, and bluish skin. Many chronic heart and lung conditions can put you at risk for hypoxia. Hypoxia can be life-threatening.
After years of being misdiagnosed, many of our ambassadors connected due to health conditions. Health care, Insurance, and Travel regulations make o2 setups and policies for dying people, not for us living ones. Our ambassadors are here to advocate for change.
MEET THE HYPOXIC HOMIES
Want your story to be featured? Email us!
Founder & Executive Director at Always Choose Adventures
Idaho Springs, Colorado
Founder of Hypoxic Hiker Wilderness First Aid Responder Board Member at Colorado Search and Rescue Association - CSAR A premature birth alongside multiple birth defects (Tracheoesophageal fistula) is how her story began. A story of being born to overcome life’s adversities and what it means to fight to live. Just a few hours after she was born – she endured major surgery and in the process had to be resuscitated 13 times. Because of a challenging beginning, she now endures vocal cord dysfunction, severe asthma, and low functioning lungs which come with their own set of unique challenges in the form of frequent and multiple respiratory infections. During her childhood – doctors instructed Chantelle’s parents to keep her indoors as much as possible; she was a bubble child. Never being able to participate in camping, hiking, backpacking, climbing, exploring or adventures left a void her a young Chantelle that would only be filled later in her life. Fast forward to Chantelle’s adulthood and she still continues to overcome life’s adversities in the form of continued and persistent health issues. Desperate to break free from the ties that bind her to a life where she felt it served no purpose knowing deep down she could do so much more; she began to always choose adventures which began her new journey. She began to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to tackle almost anything she missed out on in her younger years and in the process was blessed with meeting hundreds of kind, adventurous souls who've changed her world as she knows it. After years of dealing with numerous medical issues while adventuring, Chantelle started seeking treatment with National Jewish Hospital, her medical team has discovered her birth defects were not repaired. Chantelle's trachea (airway) collapses 90% while eating, speaking or exerting herself, making Chantelle have low oxygen levels which is known as Hypoxia. Chantelle is now a supplemental oxygen dependent adventurer, and is exploring procedures to repair her illness. Her favorite adventures include but aren’t limited to camping, hiking, volunteering, paddleboarding and backpacking. Chantelle founded Always Choose Adventures to remind people who may be suffering from various physical or mental conditions that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!
Scientist in Fruit Physiology, Studying a PhD in Cherry Production
Alexandra, New Zealand
Claire is a 34-year-old with Cystic Fibrosis. She was diagnosed later than most at age eight years old, due to a medical mishap. Her early life was not too different from that of her peers, but constant infections pointed to something just not being right. After her diagnosis, some of the damage had unfortunately already been done. Claire was brought up in a family that encouraged exercise, so she ended up loving all physical activities, including being out in the mountains. She had never been told that her life expectancy was so low, and so she lived her life like she was going to live forever. It wasn’t until university that she got a wake-up call after multiple hospital admissions and a reduction in her quality of life. After graduating, she took up a job in the beautiful south island and traveled a lot. Slowly, over about three years, her lung capacity dropped from 50% to about 30%, and she found everyday activities very difficult. She was at home in the mountains, but unfortunately, the lack of oxygen at altitude meant she was fighting for air and left her with debilitating headaches. Determined not to let this stop her, she looked into what was causing the issues, as people with cystic fibrosis usually do not need oxygen when they are otherwise healthy enough. No reason for this was ever found, but the Cystic Fibrosis Association of New Zealand was able to obtain her a Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC), which changed her life and possibly saved her life. By monitoring her oxygen saturation closely, she could spend the day in the mountains, fly overseas, and exert herself physically without getting a headache that left her screaming. At the same time, this has meant carrying an extra 4kg and spending far too much money looking for a suitable backpack that fits the POC while providing enough airflow not to overheat. She can’t imagine what she would have missed out on if she would not had access to this Portable Oxygen Concentrator.
CEO, Hartfiel Medical
“If she doesn’t die, bring her back and we’ll see if there’s more we can do for her.” That’s what Melissa’s mother was told by the doctors when Melissa was three years old. The family had already endured Melissa’s fourth month hospitalization after a bout of killer influenza that destroyed her lungs. Now, the doctors were telling her mother nothing more could be done! Melissa’s mom took her home to die, or recover, no-one knew what would happen. By some miracle, and a lot of family love, Melissa survived! It was hard, and she never could breathe, but her determination propelled her through college, marriage, and children until another battle with pneumonia led to her being placed on oxygen full time in 2016. But Melissa didn’t stop there. She quickly got tired of her nasal cannula always falling on the floor, a common problem oxygen users have, and she was worried reinserting dirty nasal cannula prongs would make her sick. So she set about making a solution - after being a stay at home mom for 20 year and lacking all business, engineering, and product development skills! In 2023 the company she founded launched to e-commerce to bring the solution she calls “hope in a box” to other people who use oxygen. The O2 FRESH nasal cannula cover makes using oxygen easier and more hygienic, helping her customers avoid additional illness and stay in their own home longer. It’s available at www.hartfielmedical.com
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Audra is a 40-year-old trail runner and hiker who has been an asthmatic most of her life and then was diagnosed with Lupus in 2015. She found that more she exercised the better her Lupus was under control. She was living in Dallas, TX at that time and decided she needed to move to a state where she would be able to do outdoor activities all the time. Plus, the weather in Colorado is much cooler than Dallas in the summer. She moved to Littleton in 2017 and took up trail running and hiking. She said it was the best she felt in years and her Lupus was under control. In November 2020 Audra was diagnosed with the original COVID virus. She was hospitalized for 2 weeks with breathing difficulties and her COVID pneumonia turned to a bacterial infection. She developed multiple heart arrhythmias. The day she was put in the hospital she was asked by the doctor how far in the treatment process is she willing to go (as in if she needs life support is that ok) At that point in the pandemic most patients who were being placed on life support died. As a nurse practitioner she had been doing her research and decided she would not take the risk. She signed papers that said they were not allowed to place her on life support. She told her doctors “If I get to where I need life support, call my sister so I can talk to her and leave my room. It will be left to me, my sister and God to figure it out.” The doctor told her if she kept that attitude she would walk out of that hospital and most patients had not been. She said she walked in her hospital room everyday back and forth and pulled her oxygen tank behind her. With Lupus joints get stiff if you don’t move so she said she had to walk for her joints but also to keep the pneumonia from getting worse. She is now 2 ½ years out from COVID and still requires oxygen with anything with exertion and when she is sick. She is back to trail running, hiking, and even learning how to ski again all while wearing oxygen. She told her doctors that she loves to be outside and exercise, so they needed to figure out a way to help her make that happen on oxygen. She now is in diastolic heart failure, has multiple heart arrhythmias (she still has episodes of passing out) and brain fog / memory issues. She is in multiple COVID long-haul studies. She says her doctors are all very supportive of her and say they wish their other patients would be active like her. She says her main goal now is to help her patients with chronic health issues to realize their full potential. She says she wants to show them they are stronger and capable of doing more than they realize. She hopes someday to be able to open her own clinic for kids with chronic health issues to teach them how to still live a full active lifestyle.
Retired Arborist & Professional Fly Fishing Guide
Mike is a retired arborist who has led a very active life including a recent stint as a professional fly fishing guide. A few years ago he was diagnosed with low blood oxygen saturation. Currently no reason for this condition has been found but testing continues. Concurrently he has been diagnosed with occipital neuralgia and the head and neck pain that it causes. These days he stays active fly fishing for fun, hiking, playing music in a band, coaching youth sports, volunteering, an occasional round of golf and is always chasing his beloved grandkids around. Mike requires supplemental oxygen, especially when active. He lives at 7'400 above sea level and has no desire to move. The lack of oxygen affects his activities but he continues to lead an active life in spite of the challenges. When hiking, fly fishing etc. he wears a small backpack containing his oxygen tank and he's adapted to that as part of his lifestyle. He says there's no reason to quit living because of the inconveniences his conditions create.
Bachelors Degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.
Melanie is a 46 year old adventure seeker. She specializes in traveling with oxygen equipment. She uses oxygen for a neuromuscular condition so she also deals with mobility issues, but hasn’t let it hold her back. Melanie has visited Disneyland with supplemental oxygen. Whether it be flying, driving, hiking, camping, or city travel she’s done it with oxygen.
Casey is a lively kindergarten boy who loves sports, pranks, nerf wars, water fights, and traveling. He loves school but finds it very difficult to keep up physically with friends due to his breathing. Frequently, he is just physically wiped out after pushing so hard just to be a “normal” kid. He hates stopping class activities and playing to have oxygen levels monitored. He takes antibiotics 3 times a week to help lung health, has to have all liquids thickened, and uses supplemental oxygen as needed. Shortly after birth, Casey’s parents knew something was wrong with their son’s breathing. Nurses constantly reassured it was just fluid in lungs from birth, but having a prior child his parents knew that was not the case. Over the next two weeks his breathing became more and more labored and was eventually diagnosed with severe laryngomalacia and GERD along with tracheamalacia. Casey was scheduled for urgent surgery due to his blue spells, hypoxia and work of breathing at just one month old. Initially, surgery helped some, but was not nearly enough. He went on to have additional surgeries to help his airway and repair a later found laryngeal cleft. To this day he has persistent struggles with daily cyanosis and hypoxia. Doctors believe something more is going on with him outside of his malacia to be causing his symptoms, but haven’t found answers. His parents work to keep the balance of finding answers and keeping him healthy all while giving him the most “normal” childhood possible. As a family, they focus on how to make things possible for Casey and making the best of the life given instead of focusing on the can’t dos.
Horse Rescuer, Equine Enthusiast and Advocate.
Amanda came into this world fighting, and she’s still fighting today! She was born a preemie but had hidden struggles. Being diagnosed with Lupus when she was twenty hasn’t slowed her down! She spent 15 years active as a Volunteer firefighter and Working in EMS. Everyone kept telling her she was too sick to work. Illness after illness, she made a comeback. Her first bout with supplemental oxygen came after a bout of Torsades during an outpatient procedure. She spent a week in ICU, where they discovered lung nodules. Soon after, she had her second lung surgery to remove a lobe of her lung. It was determined she had Connective Tissue related Pulmonary Fibrosis, caught early; she could return to life without oxygen in about 3 months. In April 2022, Amanda’s world turned upside down once again. She was hypoxic and could no longer breathe. A trip to the ER, discovered she was in heart failure. Diastolic dysfunction was the main concern. Yet once stable, her oxygen levels were still plummeting to the 80s. Sent home with oxygen and no plan, she started her recovery and was determined to ride horses again. As an avid horse rescue advocate, she did what she loved when she became ill, pressing on for four days before seeking medical care once the horses returned from an adoption event! By June of 2022, she was astride a horse again. Nervous and scared, she climbed on and hasn’t looked back. Now she is riding weekly and has done 10 miles! She wants everyone to know who thinks you sit there and the horse does all the work is totally wrong! It’s a total body workout, even on a slow walk! Her goals are now set towards competing in Combined driving and making an international debut in 2024!
Horse Trainer, Owner, Operator TRW Morgans
Though Terry was a nationally ranked swimmer in her youth (50 years ago) She learned in that her 60s that her L side diaphragm has been nonfunctional since childhood. That was fine at sea level, but after moving to Utah in her teens and mountainous Idaho in her 20s it exerted its effect, though she didn't recognize it because it's the only body she has ever lived in. At age 48 she had a stroke and subsequently found that both lungs were filled with hundreds of tiny clots. How long they had been there was impossible to determine but they caused significant scarring. She spent a year on blood thinners but 6 years later was found to have clots again, and there is no way to know how long she had had them. Combine the paralyzed diaphragm, alveolar scarring and thickening due to clots and the fact that she lives at 6200 feet of altitude and that equals a need for supplemental O2 24/7. She still manages her Morgan horse ranch, train those horses, do the majority of feeding and watering all 26 of them busting snow drifts to do so 7 months of the year, and all the piddly stuff like fixing fences and tending foals. She enjoys hiking, kayaking , X-C ski depending on the season. She requires more O2 than is available by regulator and carry tanks in a backpack outside all day long. She wants the world to know about those of us that are LIVING on supplemental O2, not actively dying, and to implement policies and changes and equipment that allows us to live our optimal lives. Thank you Hypoxic Hiker for giving us a platform.
Founder & President of Running On Air
Management and Program Analyst Baltimore, MD
Despite a chronic cough and runny nose practically from birth, and seeing various doctors since the age of 2, Mary wasn’t diagnosed with Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD), a rare genetic disorder, until she was 17. All the specialists said she had asthma with severe sinusitis. It was an x-ray showing bronchiectasis, which is severe and permanent lung damage, that got her to the PCD diagnosis. It turned out her sister, who is 4 years younger, also showed bronchiectasis on her x-rays and was diagnosed with PCD too. One of Mary’s doctors at the time expressed his shock that both girls had such severe lung diseases and lung damage given how active they were in sports and ballet. This was in the 1980’s. In 2013 Mary and her sister were both prescribed supplemental oxygen. Mary needed it for exercise and her sister needed it 24/7. Mary’s sister called her in tears after receiving her supplemental oxygen delivery. She explained that she had told the delivery guy there weren’t enough tanks to get her through work that week. The delivery guy responded saying, “People on oxygen don’t work.” As a result, in 2014, Mary founded Running On Air with the intention of changing people’s attitudes towards those on supplemental oxygen. She started doing races as a way of raising awareness and showing what supplemental oxygen users are capable of and set a goal to do a race in every state. In 2019 she completed her first marathon, the New York marathon (26.2 miles), with 34% lung capacity, while wearing her 6 pound portable oxygen concentrator (POC). Her husband walked with her carrying her POC batteries. In 2021 Running On Air became a nonprofit. It’s focus has been twofold: advocating and raising awareness of supplemental oxygen issues as well as encouraging those with disabilities to be as active as safely possible for them. Mary’s especially proud of the portable oxygen concentrator guide Running On Air published in May of 2023. You can find it online at www.RunningOnAir.org/POCs Mary jokes that she has three full time jobs, the one that pays the bills, Running On Air, and PCD. In 2019 she started seeing the lung transplant team at Johns Hopkins. She continues to be deemed too healthy to be listed for transplant, despite her current lung capacity of 30%. For now she’s happy to be healthy enough to exercise and plans to resume the goal of doing a race in every state (paused for 3 years thanks to Covid). She has 33 states to go.
Cincinnati, Ohio (Moving soon to Northern Kentucky)
Heather is a 39-year-old crafter and online English tutor. She uses an Inogen G3 and Inogen at-home concentrator machine for her COPD. She was a preemie baby by two months and had Wolff Parkinson’s White Syndrome and Fetal Hydrops at birth. She was in the NICU for 5 months on a ventilator during a few of those months. She has visited Disney World, Disneyland, Royal Caribbean cruises, and even the Bahamas on supplemental oxygen. She does not wear an oxygen machine 24/7, but at night for her it is a requirement. She even took her home oxygen concentrator each semester to and from her college dorm. She wears the oxygen machine sometimes during the day, depending on the weather. In 2005 she refused a double lung transplant that the Cleveland Clinic insisted that she needed, but she is still functioning so well, having had this lung disease basically her entire life. She’s gone on to do many things that the Cleveland Clinic told her she shouldn’t do, and she’s happy to be living her life the best she can.
Bachelor's Degree in History and Healthcare Administration
Morgan was diagnosed with an ultra-rare lung disease called Non-Specific Interstitial Pneumonia and another 39 chronic illnesses. This lung disease is a type of Interstitial Lung Disease. Morgan also is facing a condition called Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, causing her organs to throw blood clots and flood her lungs with leaking capillaries. Together, she is on 10-15 liters of oxygen with activity and 4-6 liters at rest. Morgan has spent the last several weeks in the ICU being intubated and on life support, off and on. and is still currently in the They are currently hoping to avoid another intubation, but her lungs are just struggling. She is quite young to deal with all this, as she's only 27. She's at a standstill of being too complex for her doctors to figure out how to fix her, which makes things very hard. Hopefully, we will be able to figure out how to treat me more efficiently. Wish Morgan luck as they combat these illnesses and hopefully uncover more about herself and her body.
Cardiac Sonographer / Content Creator
She’ll never forget when she was put on oxygen full-time. She had gone in for a regularly scheduled right heart catheterization, and despite going in feeling pretty good, to her surprise, her disease had progressed significantly. With the addition of new therapies, her oxygen usage went from only sleeping with it to using it full time; she was completely devastated. She was 19 years old and was trying to grasp how she would navigate the rest of her life with this oxygen tank attached to her. She remembered going to Google and searching “young people with oxygen”, and “young women with oxygen”; all she wanted to see was that she wasn’t the only person going through this. And unfortunately, she found next to nothing. After years of doing the work and getting to a better place, she decided to start a platform on social media showing herself with her oxygen. So that if somebody found themselves in a similar situation to her, they would know, at the very least know, they are not alone ☺️. And that was how @Takeabreathwithalexis was born.
Certified Running and Ultrarunning Coach, Hiking and Backpacking Coach, Lifestyle Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Sports Nutritionist, Certified Shampoo Dealer
She's mountain girl through and through, raised in the Colorado Rockies. She hikes, climbs, runs, horseback rides, swims, bikes, fishs, etc: her favorites being anything on dirt. Trail running has saved her life a few times over. She loves traveling long distances on foot (ultra running, fast packing, and backpacking) more than any other activity. She's also a momma to a sweet little boy who entered this world 3 months early, is autistic (as she is), and has many other special needs. She's a zebra warrior - living life with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and the complications that causes. She's been battling lung issues for years, ranging from complete pneumonia landing her in ICU to ongoing uncontrollable asthma and more that we have yet to put a name too. Recently she ended up back in ICU with breathing issues including multiple bouts of complete apnea where she just stopped breathing. She's been on and off oxygen over the last several years, now needing needing it at minimum for sleep and exercise. The mountains are her life and somehow she knows she'll figure out how to still be out in them.