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Why Do They Stare At Your Oxygen?

Why Do They Stare At Your Oxygen?

I’m sure that if you have been wearing oxygen for an extended length of time, you have come across people who stare at you. It’s as if they have never seen an oxygen line or container before in their lives! My mom would say it was “like a cow staring at a new gate” (true Southern expression right there). Their expression is full of confusion, and the stare is deep, as if seeing through you. Each stare makes you feel as if you are an alien or maybe like you have three eyes. Maybe it makes you even more self-conscious of this new way of life, and maybe it makes you want to stop leaving the house at all.

What are they thinking? I’m sure that you have imagined what could possibly be going through their minds. They must have some idea of your situation, right? Then you begin to believe that their stares are a result of some kind of judgement that they have about your condition. They must think that I brought all of this on to myself, or maybe they think I should just stay at home because my oxygen is such a distraction to them.

Please allow me to give you an alternate perspective. Here are a few things that could be going through the mind of someone that is staring at you and your oxygen:

  • “I hope that I have that much courage when I get older.”
  • “I wonder if wearing that hurts.”
  • “You remind me of my mom.”
  • “I respect your courage!”
  • “What happens if you run out of oxygen?”
  • “I wonder if he (she) needs to wear that all the time. I can’t imagine needing to do that.”
  • “That is so wonderful to see someone with extra challenges getting out and enjoying life.”
  • “I wonder if she (he) would be offended if I offered to help.”
  • What happened that made you need to wear oxygen?”
  • “How does wearing that help you?”

Then there are those that really are thinking about absolutely nothing related to you.

  • “Did I turn off the stove?”
  • “Can we manage things on one salary?”
  • “I need to call my dad.”
  • “Did we let the dog out this morning?”
  • “I’m so tired; I feel like I’m staring. Oh no, I’m staring!”
  • “Squirrel!!” (If you’ve seen the Disney movie, Up, you know that reference.)

Now I’m sure that there are other people that are not caring or have no interest in helping you, but it would be equally wrong to assume that every person who stares at you does so with some kind of malicious intent in mind. I like to think that most people have good intentions and would never stare at you to make you feel bad or self-conscious.

It’s true that wearing the oxygen cannula gives people something to stare at, but in all actuality, it is simply something different in the scene in which you’re playing a part. Try not to draw conclusions about what someone is thinking. Choose to think it is not mean or uncaring. Instead, choose to believe that it is caring or completely random. Most likely you will never know someone’s thoughts, but what you allow yourself to believe will change how you see yourself. Ultimately that is what is important.

How you see yourself or how you think others see you, could be what has kept you from venturing out of the house. It is up to you!

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


  • CathyinMB
    2 years ago

    I’m starting to realize that I probably will need daytime oxygen before long. I also realize that it would become very easy to become a recluse to some extent. With this website and other forums I expect to be reaching out for suggestions and encouragement to make the change. So thanks ahead of time.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Cathy and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us here in our online community. Please know that you are always welcome here, we’ll be happy to provide you with whatever assistance you may need.
    You may also want to check out our Facebook page: There you will find a great number of our community members exchanging ideas, anecdotes, and published material, all related to COPD. You’ll find it’s extremely interactive.
    We will look forward to your continued participation and can rely on us for support and encouragement.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

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