THUMBS UP!

I 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 patients to be seen wearing their oxygen cannula.
I would like to ask for your help in promoting my idea, (assuming that you consider it valuable and not simply the ravings of an old man….) by talking to your family and others, sharing this posting, and otherwise spreading the word.

What if, whenever someone sees a person wearing a cannula, they give the wearer a “thumbs up” gesture? I think that it would accomplish a few things that need accomplishing! It would acknowledge that the civilian noticed the cannula, and that they knew that the patient was doing what they should to stay active. It would act as a sign of encouragement to the patient. It would hopefully take away some of the “shame and blame” nonsense that accomplishes nothing other than deterring patients from protecting their hearts and brains by maintaining their saturation.

Note… Do not use the gesture in Iran, Afghanistan, 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.

Anyway, I think that we should try it. 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.

Uncle Jim

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.

Comments

View Comments (20)
  • Baron
    2 months ago

    Thanks Uncle Jim I think you nailed it. Not for your ‘thumbs-up’ campaign but for your comment comparing the effects of COPD with AIDS public awareness.I am from the UK and it’s only just recently the NHS has started to get it’s act together to deal with the elephant in the room. As a former highly industrial society, the UK has a ticking ‘health-bomb’ of respiratory illnesses which is just coming to light. When I was diagnosed over 10 years ago, there was the sense that ‘you have brought it on yourself’ very prevalent. Now, I am happy to report, there are very good medical support mechanisms in place, but still, little public awareness. As for wearing a cannula in public, I could care less. It’s my life and I care not what people think about my appearence. With a life changing illness like COPD, you soon learn to leave your dignity at the door, and that’s not a problem because you have to fight this head on. Thanks for your posts JIM, very enlightening mate. Greetings from the UK.

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi Baron,
    As Leon said,
    It is best to be an advocate and to toot your own horn. For some of us it just is not that easy.
    You are smart to look past it all and just do what you have to to live you life.
    Barbara Moore (Site Moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi Baron and thank you for chiming in on this article from “Uncle Jim”. It’s good to hear that the climate is changing in the UK as COPD enters into the public awareness more and more. And, your view on how to manage your own COPD is admirable. It’s always best for one to be their own best self advocate so, keep up the good work! Leon (site moderator)

  • GrandmaLin
    7 months ago

    Got a question. Does anyone else have problems with people thinking that since you look healthy enough then therefore COPD is not that big a deal? Only use oxygen at night and my meds are really helping so other than shortness of breath with exertion I appear okay. I am not looking for sympathy but acceptance would be nice. Does anyone else feel this way or have similar circumstances?

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi GrandmaLin,
    I think that it is a disease that is hard for others to understand. Even my daughter who has been by my side throughout my journey said to me she didn’t really understand until it happened to her. Then she admitted that she really didn’t have any idea. You can always use it as an education moment.
    Barbara Moore (Site Moderator)

  • lynn2u
    7 months ago

    One day I was walking into the Health Club to work out and a young man coming out, said.”excuse me, but I just wanted to tell you how much I admire what you are doing. ” I was wearing my cannula and toting my portable concentrator. I was pleased and proud and I love your idea. I was less anxious that day as I started my workout and that was a nice side benefit!

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi GrandmaLin,
    I think that it is a disease that is hard for others to understand. Even my daughter who has been by my side throughout my journey said to me she didn’t really understand until it happened to her. Then she admitted that she really didn’t have any idea. You can always use it as an education moment.
    Barbara Moore (Site Moderator)

  • Alesandra Bevilacqua moderator
    7 months ago

    Lynn – wow, what a kind sentiment! I’m so glad you felt more comfortable during your workout. Thanks for sharing this with us! – Alesandra (COPD.net Team)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi Lynn – this is such a heartwarming story – thanks so much for sharing it with the community. Receiving this kind of unsolicited and unexpected comment much have really inspired you to continue to do what you’re doing. Keep up the good work! Leon (site moderator)

  • GrandmaLin
    7 months ago

    Don’t know what stage I’m in but using oxygen at night. Have worried about when the time comes for oxygen all the time and the thought of doing so in public terrifies me. Was the one giving the sympathetic looks but soon will be the one getting them. Going to do the Thumbs Up, so much nicer, caring, and validating. Awesome Idea! Thanks Uncle Jim

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi GrandmaLin and thanks for your post. It’s easy for all of us to be sympathetic having been on both sides of the ‘sympathetic looks’. Glad to hear you find the ‘thumbs up’ approach (posted by Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary) a good way to deal with all of this. We’re glad to have you as part of our online community. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • karends
    7 months ago

    Being over 60, female and dealing with end stage COPD does not mean that I don’t want to be attractive and well-groomed. Fashion and style are still something I enjoy. Wearing a cannula especially when out in public is bad enough. The stares and “pity” gazes can be very embarrassing and are something that at times keep me from going out. I know it may seem petty to some, but I would love to have a choice of color or even patterns such as floral or paisley in cannulas. Am I the only one that is vain enough to care about this? Would love to hear what others think about this.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi karends and thanks for your post. Please know that you are certainly not alone in how you feel. Others in our community have also expressed similar sentiments about wanting to look good despite wearing a cannula. This link will provide you with a visual of some pictures of the various devices out there that are considered to fall into that category:https://www.google.com/search?q=single+sided+nasal+cannula&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj7ie3jrOjaAhXmT98KHfG4DwEQ_AUICygC&biw=1293&bih=640. If you do a little bit more homework, you will see there are choices available in the market place. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • Punky Figueroa
    9 months ago

    Excellent idea!

  • Uncle Jim & Aunt Mary author
    10 months ago

    “THUMBS UP!” REVISITED…

    A few days ago, I posted a plea for help in a new campaign that I am starting. It was called “Thumbs Up”, and it urged everyone to throw a thumbs up gesture and a smile at anyone seen wearing an oxygen cannula.
    This is a campaign, so it will be a continuing phenomenon. You will hear a lot about it, much of it from me, because I truly believe that a simple gesture of good will, which costs you nothing, truly gives a tremendous amount on both ends. If you do it, you will feel better, more generous. If you happen to be the cannula-wearer, it will provide a rare feeling of recognition and approval! What a deal for everyone involved!
    Okay. That is all well and good, but what will it accomplish? Why is Uncle Jim so enthusiastic about it? Well, the answer to that requires a little explanation. We all know, or should know, that COPD is the third largest killer in the United States, after Heart Disease and Cancer. We lose one of our community every 4 minutes. Yet, the funding for research for a cure for COPD is the ugly, red-headed stepchild of research funding. I have nothing against patients with HIV or AIDS. I only use them as a example because of the difference in research dollars. For example, in 2012 the amount spent for research per AIDS patient was $2,787. During the same period, the amount spent for research per COPD patient was $4. That seems impossible, but those are the figures.
    So, why the difference? AIDS kills relatively few people these days, but the money keeps pouring in. Meanwhile, COPD effects some 30 million people in the U. S., and we are really hurting for research money. Why would that be?
    In talking to people who were around during the first years of AIDS, the consensus is that the advocates for AIDS research were highly visible! They were out there and they were loud! They held rallies and they marched in parades, and the general public and the people who make laws could not help but notice! It 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 “Philadelphia”, a wonderful movie about a dying AIDS patient. The responses, the support, the noise was overwhelming.
    So, what are we doing? We are refusing 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 COPD patients that being seen out in the world wearing a cannula is not nearly the worst thing in the world. The Thumbs Up might just start a conversation.
    We could certainly use one….
    Uncle Jim

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    10 months ago

    Uncle Jim – this is a sensational idea and one I will support moving forward.
    Thanks for underscoring the importance of this campaign and keep up the good work!!
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Susanmarie
    10 months ago

    Hello uncle Jim, what a lovely thought, so good to know people want to make others feel comfortable and less embarrased. I shall remember this next time I am out and see someone with a cannula.

  • Allyson.Ellis moderator
    10 months ago

    What a great idea of a way to be supportive of those wearing oxygen cannulas, Uncle Jim! Thank you for sharing with the community! ~Allyson (COPD.net team)

  • Fred B
    10 months ago

    hi folks. Im new again to this site. In referance to the cannula issue i find that most folks are pretty much busy with their own thoughts and really dont notice so much. The children however are a lot more curious. I belong to a fellowship where the
    the opportunity has presented itself for some kind of honest answer. The best way to explain this is with the actual conversation that we shared. Ill do my best to remember it . A boy of about eight years old was used to seeing me prior to my cannula use and the look on his face was one of uncertainy. His younger brother of four was “observing” from a few feet away as he put down his leggos to watch. I waved him over and asked him, “your wondering what this hose is arent you?’ He just shook his head. I simply explained that is was helping my heart because my lungs didnt work right anymore because I smoked to many cigarettes. I than explained that it was good for my heart but if i didnt smoke AT ALL I probably would not need it. So i simply said ” so dont smoke ok?” and he said ok and with a smile went on his way of being the typical little boy that just smiles back when we see each other. The cute part was when he immediatly went to his younger brother of four and stated explaining to him what is was. Later on their mother thanked me for explaining to them what it was and what is was for. Other times with adults i have found humor to work. I explain to them that “I smoked an awful lot of cigarettes to get this tank and if they smoke enough they would probably be able to one of their very own” Have a wonderful day fellow copd ers. You certainly deserve to.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi Fred B – thanks for sharing this experience of yours which truly says it all!
    Keep up the good work!
    Regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

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