I recently came up with what I consider to be a brilliant idea! Some of the biggest problems that we encounter in the world of lung disease are awareness and the reluctance of people to be seen wearing their oxygen cannula. What if whenever someone sees a person wearing a cannula, they give the wearer a “thumbs up” ges- ture? This would acknowledge that you know they are doing what they should be doing to stay active. It would act as a sign of encouragement and hopefully take away some of the “shame and blame” nonsense oxygen users feel. Wearing oxygen protects hearts and brains by maintaining saturation, a very good rea- son to use it!
We all know that COPD is the third largest killer in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. We lose one of our community every four minutes. Yet, the funding for research for a cure for COPD is the under-appreciated stepchild of research funding. In 2012 the amount spent for research per person with AIDS was $2,787. During the same period, the amount spent for research per person with COPD was $4. That seems impossible, but those are the figures. So, why the dif- ference? AIDS kills relatively few people these days, but the money keeps pouring Meanwhile, COPD effects some 30 million people in the United States but we are really hurting for research money.
Why would that be?
The advocates for AIDS research were highly visible. They were seen and they were loud! They held rallies and they marched in parades. The general public and the people who make laws could not help but notice. AIDS was considered to be a serious epidemic, and Congress and state legislators threw money at it. Celebrities of all kinds got behind the cause, and Tom Hanks starred in Phila- delphia, a wonderful movie about a man with AIDS. The responses, the support, the noise were overwhelming.
So, what are we doing? We are refus- ing to wear our cannulas where anyone can see us. We are staying home rather than exerting ourselves to gather our O2 equipment and going out to live our lives. We are bearing the self-imposed shame and blame because we smoked years ago. We are sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, instead of working the rest of our bodies to stay strong. We are doing everything we can to avoid drawing attention to ourselves.
All of this helps to explain why I have taken up the “Thumbs Up” campaign. It isn’t parades and rallies and movies, but maybe the friendly gesture will be a start toward convincing people with COPD that being seen out in the world wearing a cannula is not nearly the worst thing in the world. I would like to ask for your help in promoting my idea, by talking to your family and others, and otherwise spreading the word. The “Thumbs Up” might just start a conversation. We could certainly use one!
The more people that we can get involved, the more effective it will be, and the fewer strange looks we will get. I would recommend accompanying the thumb with a genuine smile. Can’t hurt. Thanks in advance for your help.
PS: Do not use the gesture in Iran, Af- ghanistan, West Africa, or parts of South America. It is considered highly offensive. The people of Greece won’t use it but will tolerate it from foreigners.
The Well Spouse Association advocates for and addresses the needs of individuals caring for a chronically ill person. Visit their web site at www.wellspouse.org or call 1-800-838-0879 to find a support group near you.
The organization was established in response to the book, Mainstay: For the Well Spouse of the Chronically Ill, by Mag- gie Smith. It is now out of print as it was originally printed in 1988 but available on Amazon. Some of the information is a bit dated but still great information for the well spouse!
Donna B. from Roch- ester, NY, wrote: Because I travel to my family’s homes frequently, I need a truly portable nebulizer for my aerosol treatments. I have been pleased with the Aerosoon NebSmart Handheld which I have used in the car and I use it on planes. There is mini-
mal noise from the nebulizer – no one even knows you are using it. It is very lightweight and has a rechargeable battery.
It is on Amazon.com for about $60. There are many other models available also. There is now no reason to stay home!
Jim Nelson, diag- nosed with COPD, was lucky enough to have a lung transplant. He and his wife, Mary, are now advocates for those coping with respiratory prob-
lems. You may follow their advice at their blog, www.unclejim-auntmary.net