On the cliff top overlooking our beautiful harbour, is one of Wick’s best kept secrets. The Healing Hub, an oxygen therapy centre, has recently been completely refurbished and is available for use by anyone who could benefit.

I had heard oxygen therapy could really help CFS/ME so I’d been thinking about going for a while but, being claustrophobic, I would let my imagination run riot and talk myself out of it. Realising that if I found it a bit daunting, then many other people would be feeling the same, I decided to give it a go and share my experiences with you.

What is hyperbaric oxygen treatment?

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) is the delivery of increased levels of oxygen under pressure for a duration of about 60 minutes. The oxygen is delivered through a mask while the chamber is brought under pressure. This significantly increases the oxygen levels in the bloodstream, which can initiate cellular repair. It allows oxygen to reach areas where circulation isn’t very good and can encourage new blood vessels to grow into these areas. It as also been shown to reduce swelling and improve white blood cell activity and healing. If you’d like some detailed information or a treatment centre close to you, you’ll find more at the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Trust.

controls for hyperbaric chamber

Who can benefit?

The treatment has been shown to be beneficial for a wide range of chronic and acute conditions (as well as improved general wellbeing) including,

  • ME/CFS
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sports injuries
  • Chronic acne

Recent research has also shown promising benefits for the treatment of COVID and long-COVID.

How scary actually is it?

The thought of being in a pressurised chamber was pretty intimidating for me, but Christine, the volunteer at the centre was very reassuring. She explained everything that would happen and assured me that she’d be watching me closely the whole time. I could come out of it any time I felt uncomfortable just by signalling that I wanted to go up.

I felt a bit anxious and panicy for the first few minutes. Christine explained that if you had any pain in your ears and they would take you ‘back up’ but in reality, it was exactly the same as being on a plane – a wee jaw wiggle or holding your nose and blowing and any pressure in the ears is released. Once I realised that, I could settle in and relax a bit. There are blankets and cushions to keep you cosy and the noise of the oxygen in the mask as you breathe in and out is actually quite soothing.

It is quite noisy while the chamber is being pressurised but once you’re at the right ‘depth’, it is just the hiss of the oxygen and the sound of your own breath until you come back up again. There is wi-fi in the chamber so you can bring a computer or your phone. I took it as the ideal opportunity to take a break from my phone and I managed to get a load of writing and some meditation done. By the second session, I was so relaxed that I could easily have had a week nap.

It can be a bit chilly, especially as you’re coming back up so do wear cosy, comfortable clothes.

donna in the HB chamber

How have I benefitted?

I felt a bit buzzy after the first session and I had really strange dreams. I did think I felt less tired, but I wasn’t sure whether that was just excitement. As an eternal optimist with a chronic illness, I get very excited at the possibility that something could provide a bit of relief.

After the second and third sessions, the benefits were definitely noticeable. I was staying up later at night (I’m usually in bed by 8 exhausted) and I was sleeping right through and waking up feeling rested. I have had energy to do things that had been put off for ages – I’ve finished a blanket I started knitting about three years ago, I’ve been for a walk every morning and today, I did some wild swimming. For me, the best benefit, is the complete lifting of brain fog. I feel like I can think clearly and the horrible draining feeling in the back of my head has completely disappeared. Fabulous!

I have combined the sessions with cutting down my work hours and making changes to my morning and evening routines (more about routine in next week’s blog) but I believe the chamber has been a significant factor in how much better I am feeling. My plan is to go once a month from now on, more often if I feel I need it.

I also spoke to Kirsteen who has endometriosis and was recently in hospital for major surgery. She found that a single session in the chamber helped her sleep and boosted her energy.

If you have any concerns about your suitability for the chamber, it might be an idea to discuss with your doctor first. Christine is also very knowledgeable and super helpful so you can also have a chat with her, prior to your session.


How can you book a session?

You will find The Healing Hub on Facebook … contact them through here or on the phone numbers provided. They are always on the lookout for volunteers so if this is something you could help with, they will give you full support and training. There is a recommended donation of £15 per session to cover oxygen and electricity and Christine suggested three sessions within a week to begin with. I didn’t quite manage that but I did do three within ten days.

So, Donna loves, The Healing Hub and I would definitely say to give it a try if you are struggling with your health. If you’d like to chat about it, please feel free to drop me an email on [email protected]. If you’d like to combine the sessions with a wider wellbeing programme, why not book some wellbeing coaching. I’d love to hear how you get on.

with love – Donna xox

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