Illustrated oxygen tank sitting in a chair alone looking bored.

Vanity

I don’t care what anyone says, men are way more vain than women.

At least this one is.

Embarassed about oxygen

It’s one of the reasons – scratch that – it’s the ONLY reason I could not bring myself to start using oxygen in public. I was totally embarrassed to be seen with a cannula stuck up my nose.

When I was first diagnosed, my pulmonologist prescribed oxygen to sleep with and then had my daytime needs evaluated.

In 2011, I still didn’t need oxygen to get around during the day. I wasn’t running marathons or anything. Just walking to the train for my morning commute and even that didn’t involve a whole lot of walking – the train station in town is literally down the block from our home.

But I carried a small B tank in my backpack, “just in case.” I never used it. I can remember thinking about a year later that it might be a good idea to check to see if it was still full of oxygen (it was).

But gradually, as things progressed, I could feel myself getting short of breath and around 2015, I began to use oxygen on a regular basis, particularly if I was working around the house and garden.

And in the summers, with the heat and the humidity, I began to use it more and more frequently. And that is when I became self-conscious about how I looked.

So I stayed home

As a result, I would stay home while my wife and sometimes my kids went out to see family, attend weddings – just “hang out with the gang.” I really did miss being there. I come from a big, extended family and we are very close, even though we are spread across the country.

Instead of being with them all, I watched abysmal television programming – anything that would distract me while friends and family gathered and enjoyed each other’s company as I believe we, as human beings, are meant to do.

Until a good friend of mine set me straight

One night after my wife and daughter left for a friend’s son’s graduation celebration, another buddy dropped by.

“What are you doing?” Frank asked.
“What do you mean?” I asked Frank.
“You gonna sit here and feel sorry for yourself forever?” he continued.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.

My wife had told Frank about my embarrassment about having to wear the cannula and the oxygen.

“Look,” he said. “You’re so ugly already, who is going to notice?” (He really did say that).

I’ve known Frank my entire life so I laughed whole-heartedly.

“C’mon. Get the oxygen and the tube (cannula) and meet me outside,” he said.

And I did

We went to the celebration.

Thank goodness it wasn’t 100 degrees and 100% humidity like it had been for most of the summer here in the Northeast.

I walked into my friend’s backyard wearing the cannula and carried my “D” tank in an old backpack. I was very nervous. I looked for my wife and saw her. She smiled.

Everything stopped, (including the music, I think). All eyes were on me.

I got a standing ovation. Breathe.

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Comments

View Comments (31)
  • Barbara Moore moderator
    4 months ago

    Good read Kevin,
    You have hit the nail on the head here.
    Most of us are tepid about wearing 02 in public. Isn’t it a shame that we do this to ourselves and jeopardize our health?
    Usually after the initial shock, nobody really cares, and then we can get on with our lives. It can be used as a teaching moment too, especially for younger kids.
    Barbara Moore (site Moderator)

  • Derek Cummings
    4 months ago

    Loved the read Kevin. I go everywhere with my oxygen and there is literally nowhere i will not go. Keep going as oxygen really does give us our life back when we get to a stage of needing it.

  • KevinDavitt author
    4 months ago

    Now there’s a genius of a man and a gifted writer as well on Facebook. Mr. Derek Cummings. His group is called “We Strive to Breathe Easier.”

    Thank you my friend.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi kip88 and thanks for chiming in here to this conversation. I understand how you feel as sometimes, social media can be so pervasive. Thanks for giving it some consideration. What you choose to do is entirely up to you! Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • kip88
    4 months ago

    Well I might just have to check out that Facebook group.
    Thing is lately I have somewhat backed off from social media. Nothing lasts forever as we know. There’s just a lot of anger and hate and overall a lot of negativity, idk if it’s like that for everyone. Frankly though i’ve already got my hands full! But I’ll check into it when I sign on again, sometime soon.
    Thanks for posting about it-

  • Baron
    4 months ago

    I would only comment that being somehow afraid of being seen in public with a nasal cannula in place and a tank of oxygen on your shoulder is a long slippery slope of self doubt, withdrawal and depression. You’ve got COPD and nothing can change that so meet the challenges head-on. The alternative is grim and all downhill, trust me.

  • KevinDavitt author
    4 months ago

    Baron – that sounds bleak. I’m a pretty positive guy.

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Baron – You make some excellent points! For some it’s harder than others to “meet COPD head-on”, but if a person can do that and use the resouces that are currently available (such as O2), things will be better in the long run. Sometimes it just takes a little pep talk to ourselves, which it appears you’re very good at, and we can do whatever needs to be done.

    Regards,
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • KevinDavitt author
    4 months ago

    Lyn – a pep talk always helps.
    And..for some of us… a prayer works pretty good too.

  • fence
    4 months ago

    I am struggling with the same issue as we speak. I find it embarrassing to wear out in public, yet I am realizing that it will soon be the only way to get out. I have resigned my self to wearing it whenever I ride my ebike, but to the bakery, and the club, not yet, but coming.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi fence and thanks for your post. I believe you’ll find, in time, that Barbara’s advice is sound. Do what works best for your condition – and helps you to breathe easier. You’ll find (I’m sure) that people will not be as focused on your oxygen as they are on you as an individual. It comes with time. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi Fence,
    i am sorry to hear that you being shy about wearing your 02 in public.
    We all struggle with this at the beginning but in truth, my experience is that people are only shocked for a few seconds and then its normal and they get over it. Please reconsider your health above what others think and don’t say.
    Barbara Moore (site moderator)

  • bassetbabe
    4 months ago

    I’ve been on oxygen since January 2018 and need a C tank but have been blessed with being able to use the pulse. At first i was unhappy being seen with it in public. Then I thought to myself, this oxygen is not stopping you from living life it’s helping you enjoy a normal life. At least I can see, hear, walk, talk,etc. I wear it to my part-time job, I drive and even get out on the dance floor if the music gets me motivated. You are right, breathe and live every day like it’s your last with a smile on your face.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi bassetbabe and thanks so much for your post. It’s so good you’ve adopted this positive outlook and ‘can do’ attitude. As Lyn has said (below), it’s the only way to live life – get out there and do it (as you are!) Keep up the good work! Wishing you the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    I love your attitude, bassetbabe! Good for you that you just go about your business and enjoy life to the fullest. That’s the only way to live!

    Regards,
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • cher1215
    4 months ago

    Vain woman here! Finally got over the nose hose in public. I’m a young looking 58 who looks perfectly healthy but my FEV1 is about 24% and I NEED to use O2 24/7. I remember a physician at Mayo Clinic say how small your world would get if you don’t go out with oxygen. Very, very true. I finally accept it and grin and bear it.

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi bassetbabe
    You have the perfect attitude. That positive attitude is necessary when you have this disease and it will keep you going for miles to come.

    Barbara Moore (site Moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi cher1215 and thanks for your positive post. I concur with everything Lyn has said (below). Keep up the good work! You will continue to enjoy life and your ability to accept this will spur you onward! Warm regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    cher1215 – I don’t think you’re vain, I think you’re very brave and spunky! It’s so true that it would seriously limit how far you’d go if you didn’t wear your oxygen. I’m glad you made the decision you did. Thank you for sharing your story – it may encourage others to do the same.

    Regards,
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • lizlizardrn
    4 months ago

    Good for you! I know, when my time comes … I will have a hard time going outside my house. Took me awhile to let my grandkids sleep over cause I wear I2 at night now but I tell myself “at least there is something to help me!” It’s when you get told “ sorry… nothing can be done for you” that would be heart breaking! Guess I answered my own question… be grateful there is “something “ available ! Good for your bravery!

  • lizlizardrn
    4 months ago

    My post should say O2…. not i2 … lol

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi lizlizard and thanks for your input and comment in response to Kevin’s article. We understood i2 was O2. Not an issue at all!
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Squirrels Holt
    4 months ago

    Absolutely agree that it is an embarrassment at first to constantly be attached via nose and hose! I’m not in total agreement though Kevin that men are more conscious of wearing the cannulas than us women…it probably took me a good couple of years to muster up the courage and “go public”!! I did the usual hiding away,but there’s more to life than COPD,with or without the hose. At Christmas I’m going to see if I can jaz mine up a bit with flashing lights and some tinsel. (Obviously taking care its of no danger).
    You’ve done do well…..high five to you for having a real friend who persevered to get you out and about.
    Best wishes.

  • KevinDavitt author
    4 months ago

    Thanks and best to you too.

  • Janet Plank
    4 months ago

    Hi Kevin, great article! So many do get self conscious about that “hose in the nose”, that they struggle more because of it. Good for your friends, for helping you see, that the only thing to be concerned with is “Breathe”.
    Janet (site moderator)

  • KevinDavitt author
    4 months ago

    “hose in the nose” – gonna have to remember that, Janet. Thanks.

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    A friend of mine used to say, “You know you’ve got a good friend when they can be honest with you.” Great article. John. Site Moderator.

  • KevinDavitt author
    4 months ago

    Thanks John. Your friend is right.
    I try and tell my sons, “If I can’t tell you then who can?”

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Good for you, Kevin, for sharing this with us! I’m sure there is much, much more behind what finally got you ‘out there’. But your dear friend, Frank, combined with the unwavering support of your loving family and friends – well – looking back, I’m sure you couldn’t be happier with your decision!
    Warmest regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • KevinDavitt author
    4 months ago

    Thanks Leon. I’m a lucky guy.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    It’s my pleasure, Kevin. You sure are a lucky man!
    Regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

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