For those of you who have no earthly idea what I am talking about, this is the fourth in a series of pleas for recognition of anyone wearing an oxygen cannula out in public. If you would like to take a look at the first three posts, please look at unclejim-auntmary.net. You will find them, plus a bunch of other stuff that you might find useful if you have a chronic disorder, especially lung disease.
For those of you who did in fact read one or more of the previous articles, have you given a “Thumbs Up” and a smile to anyone who you saw wearing an oxygen cannula? If you have done so, you have my eternal gratitude! There are so many oxygen wearers who slink around, trying to be invisible, for fear of the disapproval of strangers. The stigma, the perceived judgmental stares are a powerful deterrent to being seen at all! Sadly, many of those who are oxygen-dependent don’t go out at all! If they do, there is a tendency to risk heart and brain damage by refusing to wear the cannula.
The whole “Thumbs Up” campaign is designed to alleviate those feelings of guilt or embarrassment. Giving someone a thumbs up and a smile might just show them that you do not disapprove, but rather are appreciative of the fact that they are doing what they should to protect themselves. Further, it could show them that you approve of them making the effort to get out of the house and live their lives!
I received a Facebook post last week from someone who had used the thumbs up on a couple of ladies with cannulas. The smiles on the subjects of the gesture were beautiful to see!
If you have not spotted anyone with a cannula, I do not find that surprising. The lung disease community has, for the most part, rendered itself invisible. One too many stares, a few statements that “You must have been a smoker!” in the same tone that one would use when saying, “You must have been a serial killer!”, and the cannula-wearer runs for cover and stays there.
I am trying, with your help, to allow these folks to have a life, to get out and shop and eat and go to the theater. I am trying to get them to avoid the heart and brain damage that is a real danger of oxygen deprivation.