A Fairbanks mother and son are undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy in Anchorage to treat the long-term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Christina Basile and her son Joshua say they were exposed to the odorless, colorless and poisonous gas at Christina's workplace in Fairbanks this past December. The effects are not as severe for 12-year-old Joshua as they are for his mother, who struggles with slurred speech, tremors and mobility.
Christina's husband Cord says the carbon monoxide exposure occurred over a long period of time. Her place of employment did not have carbon monoxide detectors, which are only required by law in buildings with motor vehicles or where people sleep. He and Christina say a simple carbon monoxide detector could have prevented her illness.
"You have some symptoms, you know you don't quite feel right, you're still having headaches," Christina said, struggling to explain. "But as time went on, things started changing."
Breathing 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized chamber can decrease the risk of cognitive, neurological and cardiac effects, according to Dr. Nancy Greenwell, medical director of the American Hyperbaric Center in Anchorage. It is most effective within 24 hours of the poisoning. For Christina, there has been some improvement, but it appears to have come to a plateau.
"She had some improvement initially and now it's leveling off, so we're coming towards probably the end of what hyperbaric treatment can do," said Greenwell.
Cord Basile says the incident has turned the Basile family's world upside-down. The family used to be very active and enjoyed skiing, riding snowmachines, and motorcycles. These days, Cord has become the 24-hour caregiver for his wife and son; they dropped everything in Fairbanks to spend weeks in Anchorage for treatment.
"Our life completely changed," Cord said. "We went from having a home, and normal days and nights and laughter and joy, to not knowing what each day holds."