I want to convey a very personal message. It’s about the process I went through when adjusting to, and using supplemental oxygen in public. Much of it is different from what I have read about or heard from the doctor who prescribed it. I hope by sharing this it might help not only those who have previously been prescribed oxygen, but those who may in the future. This is not medical information and should not be taken as such. But it is information that was not offered to me in any way by doctors and pulmonary rehab. I assume they wanted to deal with the clinical aspects rather than the psycho-social impact this change would have on me.
Being put on oxygen was a scary proposition for me. I didn’t want people see me using supplemental oxygen. I was just certain people would stare at me? They’ll stare and think I am weak, frail, someone to pity. Also, people treat me different or avoid me. In addition, what about the image I present to society, and my own self-image or feelings of self- worth. Things just won’t be the same. I don’t want to change my appearance. I’ll be less attractive. On and on and I got angry.
I sat down; realized supplemental oxygen was needed, and was determined to find a rational reason for my reluctance. My reluctance to carry oxygen was a response to fear. The fear of being viewed as somehow different than the image I had fostered of myself.
I began to approach this problem from both a logical and sociological perspective.
I looked in my mind and was amazed that I, a COPD patient, had a preconceived set of labels of my own. I was putting my own preconceived notions on others. I first laughed at myself for not seeing this concept before. I had stigmatized myself without giving others the opportunity to stare or exhibit any of the above. My fear had little merit. I have found some people are tentative and unsure. I try and remember that before I was prescribed it, I too had preconceived notions. Preconceived notions are learned. I have to show understanding to the person in the market, the bank teller and society in general. I’m not attempting in any way to teach society about the use of supplemental oxygen. I have been accepted by society (those I’ve come in contact with). Will everyone be accepting, no. No one, with or without an oxygen tank is accepted by everyone.
The essence of my message is please see if any of this makes sense, or helps you in any way.
th_goodmorning Ken. Yes I know what you mean. I've been on oxygen for 3 years and it's only the last few months I would use when I was out in the general public. Never had a problem with anyone so far. I was waiting outside the door of a store with all my groceries and a lady came along and ask if she could help me to my car. I told her I was waiting for my friend but thanks so much. People so far have been great...
I find when you are using the oxygen people do react differently. I guess it is somewhat outside their "Norm" and they are not sure how to act.
I buy groceries at two different Safeway stores. In one they accept they oxygen and at the checkout they chat away as per normal.
At the other store, they stop chatting when I get to the front of the cue. They did chat prior to my wearing the oxygen cannnula. Once they get used to it I expect their behaviour will go back to what it was.
The store where they chat normally is also the store that has a fellow in a wheelchair working the checkout. So perhaps they are just more accepting.
People just need to be slapped!! Expeccially when they do that!! .haha, we'll it's time some people grow up!! It's 2016 now..
I have my own troubles yes, like the older couple that walked away from me when some of my food fell on the floor. I mean they really looked into my eyes and walked the other direction. REALLY? Not to be unkind, b/c I'm far from that, but one day, their life will not be so fine..and karma!
I just really sometimes think to myself whatever, I don't know you, you don't know me or my story! And thank God we don't. I wouldn't want to know them.
I just thank God for all of you, and the friends I have now. Yes I've lost some, and some don't speak to me. Good, it saves me heartache later on.. Love you all Gail xoxo.