A Black woman wearing oxygen is smiling naturally, looking up at a bird and surrounded by plants and flowers.

Wearing Oxygen for the First Time

Last updated: July 2022

Over these past eleven years, I have had many first times with my oxygen. Here are some I'd like to share.

In October 2011 is when I wore oxygen for the first time. I remember the day that they brought me my oxygen and supplies.

I was a little overwhelmed, but I knew a lot about oxygen from working in hospitals and nursing homes. I quickly found out that I didn’t know everything about it and that I would keep learning much more.

Going out in public for the first time

Believe it or not, I was so relieved. I thought, now I can get the oxygen that my body needs, and I thought, now people will understand why I park in the handicapped parking spot or why I can only walk for a short distance and have to stop and take a break, now they'll know.

Some of my friends who wear oxygen didn't like to take pictures or even be seen in public with oxygen. The first time I wore my oxygen for a picture was my first day of having it.

I did it right away because I felt like the more people who saw me wearing oxygen in pictures on Facebook, etc., would be less shocked when they saw me in public for the first time. Yea, I’d like to be without it, but it was a part of me now, so why not let people see the real me?

Going to the grocery store for the first time with oxygen, I almost pulled my ears off my head. I had a tank at the time and had it sitting in the cart's front seat.

I left the cart to grab something off the shelf and ran out of tubing, yanking it and my ears. Looking around, I wondered who all had seen that.

No one had, so I just giggled and carefully went back to shopping.

Using my oxygen to raise awareness

Another "first time" was when I was stared at while wearing my oxygen in public. The person I was with asked why I wasn’t upset that they were staring at me.

I said, “well, they are probably wondering why a person as young as me is wearing oxygen, and if they ask me, I’d love to let them know the reason for it is that of my rare condition, Alpha 1, and can help spread awareness”.

There was another "first time" that a parent told their child not to stare at me and to be quiet when they asked what I was wearing. I told the parent it was ok to ask me what I was wearing and why.

It was another opportunity to spread awareness and let the parent know it is ok to ask these questions.

I have had several firsts with wearing oxygen

Through the years, there have been many more first times: when I tripped over my hose, when my husband, dog, kids, and grandkids tripped over my house. They got tangled while vacuuming.

Having grandchildren teethe on my oxygen hose, after cleaning it, of course. Getting a hole in the hose running out of oxygen from a tank, or battery life, on a portable machine, taking a shower, and taking a trip on an airplane were also some memorable experiences.

I could go on with so many more. It never ends.

Sure, there have been many times when I have wanted to throw my whole machine out the door and have cussed and moaned about it, but I am just happy that I have this oxygen. It has helped me be around all these years, and I would be stuck at home, in my chair without it.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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