Suzanne speaks with MorningStar of Beaverton resident, Nick Hanks, who served in the United States Air Force for 20 years. Nick shares some real-life experiences, including how the Air Force trained him on the effects of hypoxia. Hypoxia, which is low levels of oxygen in your body, occurs in pilots when at high altitudes. It can cause confusion, difficulty breathing, a rapid heart rate, and more.
Listen to Nick’s veteran story now!
MorningStar of Beaverton is located at 14475 SW Barrows Rd, Beaverton, OR 97007. Learn more at their website or call (503) 966-5997.
View Episode Transcript
*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Welcome to the Answers for Elders radio show. Meet the trusted experts who will give you straight answers and will help guide you on the path of later life care. Now here’s your host, founder, caregiver and CEO, Susanne Newman. And welcome everyone to answers for others radio network. And we are here on behalf of morning stars senior living in Beaverton, Oregon, and we are here talking to a very special guest who is also I’m going to talk to us about a topic that we necessarily haven’t talked about our answers for others before and as a result, Um, before I introduced our guest to you, Um, you know I this special individual. He’s actually a resident at Morning Star in Beaverton, but most importantly, which is really amazing, is that he is a military veteran from the air force. And so I’d like to Um introduce all of you and welcome Mr. Nick Hanks to answers for elder’s radio. So thank you for being with us, Nick. It’s my pleasure. It’s good to be with you. I look forward to our broadcast. I do too because, Um, before we started recording, Um Nick was sharing with me a little bit about Um your background and your experience in the Air Force, and you talked about an experience with you that had to do with high altitudes. So should we like start off with your story a little bit first? Sure, uh, I was in the Air Force for twenty years and in the first tour I had a Bright Patterson Air Force based in Ohio. I was put on flying status as a crew member, not as a primary member. I wasn’t a pilot or co pilot or navigator, and my purpose was to run experimental equipment that we were testing for a variety of purposes. But because we they have a rigorous program that you have to go through, like you got to jump off this tower into the water and put on a voice so you can float and so on. What are the things you have to do? Is Go through the altitude chamber, and what they’re trying to teach you is what is what happens when you become hypoxy which means you’re not you’re not body is not getting enough oxygen. That is they put you in a pressure chamber and then they pre pumped the pressure chamber down to twenty five feet. By the way, there’s a constructor sitting beside you and then everybody takes a turn and they take their mask off and they have you do these little tests and stuff, and so you can feel what it’s like to become hypoxic. So, Dohop, me to get into what the test was and what we were doing. Yes, absolutely, Let’s talk about what that was. Okay. So they give you a pretty simple test at the beginning. The questions are you pull your mask off and then the test is fairly simple. It’s like, what right, what is the Air Force Base that you’re at? What TV program did you watch last night? What kind of a car to your parents have? So you’re zipping off those answers and you you got it takes so don’t know, minute or so to answer all those questions and then it gets down and it says, okay, flip the paper over. You’ve got a clickboard. Flip the paper over and start with the number a hundred and what we want you to do is make a row a hundred eight. See, I’m counting down by threes and just keep counting down by threes. I said, Oh, this is gonna be a piece cake. Flip the paper over and I start counting down and I’m going, I’m going to set a world’s record here. I’m just going like mad and I’m going like mad and I just think I’m doing wonderful and pretty soon this jerk next to me that been one of the instructors is pushing my mask on. I’m going, what are you doing? He says, put your mask on, put your mask on, okay, wow, and I’m sitting there. He said how did you do it? I said I thought I was doing fantastic. He said, well, let’s look down at your paper and it starts down hundred ninety seven, ninety four, nine, one five, and then it goes over and goes eight, six, eighty three, oh my goodness, seventy nine, seventy, eight, seventies, six seventies, and then it kind of turns and starts going sideways and it’s going. Oh, then I jumped down to like in the thirties and the thirty two, thirty four, and I’m saying I don’t know. It comes after I’m thinking there the instructor starts pushing my mask back on and I’m going, I’m going, what are you doing? He’s put your mask on, put your mask okay. So I put my mask on and I sit there for a minute and the circus said how did you think you do? I said, well, I think I did a world’s record. He look out at your sheet. So I was, you know, I got through the eighties pretty good, and it goes ninety or that, it goes eight and then it goes eighty three and then it goes eighty four and then it goes eight two and then it goes twenty. I mean, I was hypoxic as hell and I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that my brain was not functioning from m m m m. now, with Hypoxia, that is a condition. Obviously that happened to you at the moment. Did you realize that it could be affecting you later in life? Yeah, they don’t leave you in there long enough that it’s going to affect you for that period of time. Okay, I think you would pass out first, and you’re passing out, so that’s why the guy pushes the mask back on you. Right. Right when I came back and I looked at my sheet, I’m going, what the Hell is going on here? What did they switch sheets on me? That I altitude and that obviously could affect what you’re flying absolutely and you know, you hear about stories about how pilots can get disoriented Um, and I’m sure that’s part of it. Is that? Is that the case? I don’t know that much about flying, but I know my dad was a pilot, so he used to talk a little bit about I remember when JFK JR Um got disoriented from the from the weather, but it was also due to Um, you know, altitude was the fact as well. So they said so yes, and of course that was nothing compared to probably what you were affected by. So mine I was never affected when I was actually flying on a test mission, but I think the reason was I was quite aware of what could happen if I did become hypoxy. Were careful, you know, to make sure everybody was okay, and there would oftentimes be. They called it a countdown through the crew and the pilot coutdown time, countdown time, and he’d go one and the CO pilot to go to and then we’d start three, four or five, six and he’d go where’s seven? Where’s seven? Somebody finds seven. In my case that a couple of times it happened. The Guy was busy and you know, off yes, I keep watching each other and it’s what this stuff goes on. There’s a famous story in the Air Force that they tell you in uh and training when you get ready to start flying and pressurized aircraft about and he has a he has a big exam coming up. So they’re flying he one thirty and the flight engine back to the bunks in the back of the cock and he’s sleeping big night drinking. So the navigator says to the two pilots, pilot her phone and I want to sit here and work nav problems because I got a big exam coming up. Be Okay, go ahead. So he does that for about minutes and he’s had enough and he spins around and he looks and he pulls his mask down and he plugs his inner phone back in and the pilot and Co pilot and his C one thirty hundred and seventy five thousand pound airplane. They’re talking about rolling the airplane and they can’t decide whether they’re gonna roll left or they going to roll it to the right in vertical. It would have come apart in the air. They were they had lost their reasoning capability. It was on auto pilot, so they didn’t realize that their coordination was up and the navigator starts yelling you’re hypoxic, you’re hypoxic. They go, yes, get back, we’re okay, no, no, yeah, so are you, Um, you know, as far as you’ve probably Um experience. Probably are recognize it a little bit more. As far as how does hypoxia change your memory in the long term? Does it? Does it have an effect Um, from the effects of Al Altitude? I think it would. If you got hypoxic all the time. Got It. You’re warned about that that if you’re going to altitude, get a mask on. Even the guys high dive from high altitudes, they start on the ground with an oxygen mask and they keep it on during their high altitude jump. Right. Just don’t want to fool around with cutting oxygen of well, and you know, we hear about mountain climbers and I’m sure that that’s part of it. Like mountain elevations would a lot of times they wear oxygen. But back in the early days actually, Um, I was reading about George Fitch. He was a mountain climber that climbed Everest back in the nineteen twenties or something like that. They didn’t have even any any oxygen back then. So obviously people like that that would be um, probably long term. Um, that probably could. I’m I’m not familiar with anybody climbing Everest without oxygen. Even the surpast wear oxygen when they goes up that high we’re talking and they start wearing oxygen, I think somewhere around ten thousand feet. And part of the reason they have to have so many sure posts they have to carry all those oxygen. Yes, they do, yes, they do. So, nick, changing subjects, how do you like living? Living at Morning Star in Beaverton? It’s wonderful and the food is good. The food is excellent, just excellent. Yeah, we’re out in a place where I could I’ve got three or four different places I could run. I have a very nice, pleasant apartment. They clean it once a week for me. The staff is very attended. Every afternoon we have happy hour. What more do you want? Exactly, absolutely, absolutely. You know, I always think about, you know what, what’s on your bucket list, and it’s so much easier to think about doing things that are on your bucket list when you’re not encumbered by other responsibilities of keeping up a home and, you know, cooking your meals and grocery shopping and all the things that you have to do when you live like that, but you have all the benefits of freedom to stay in a beautiful place like this and just be pampered and spoiled. That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right and it takes care of the problem that I think we all have as we get older than all of a sudden we realized that we have this memory problem came up. My Aha moment was I was driving along in my car in Colorado and I suddenly realized they had no clue where I was going. Right, right. Well, it can happen to anybody and certainly I really am so honored that you shared your story with us and I am thrilled to be good to meet you and thank you so much again for the service that you’ve given this country. Well, that’s very kind of you, and thank you for any of you you. I enjoyed talking. I enjoyed talking to you too, and I hope you’ll come back on the show sometime. You’ve pleasure. Okay, thank you. We at answers for elders. Thank you for listening. Did you know that you can discover hundreds of podcasts in our library on senior care. So visit our website and discover our decision guides that will help you also navigate decision making. Find US AT ANSWERS FOR ELDERS DOT COM.
Suzanne Newman, host of the Answers for Elders radio show and podcast, proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne embarked on a 6-year-journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. Answers for Elders provides education, help, and support to families, caregivers, and seniors across the country who are experiencing their own unique journey within the complicated world of Eldercare. Each week, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including health & wellness, life changes, living options, money, law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.