Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc.I was inspired to write this piece this morning while I was on the treadmill, watching special clips of the athletes for the Winter Olympics. They were of course doing things that would appear impossible to us mere mortals.

So what is it about these kids that enables them to do things that you and I could only dream about? In their words, it is a combination of the desire to attain a goal, the incredible amount of physical work, and the fortitude necessary to overcome the fears associated with that goal. As Lindsey Vonn, Olympic star and American World Cup alpine ski racer, puts it, they have to find the fine edge just this side of disaster.

So what, you ask, does that have to do with me? Well, if you are reading this, you are closely associated with COPD or another lung ailment. Your goals are, or should be in my opinion, the attainment of a decent quality of life. That of course means something different to each of us, depending on our condition and our desires.

The fears? A couple that come to mind are the fear of the shortness of breath and the muscle aches associated with the exercise that we must do in order to stay active. I talk a lot about choices … you can choose the couch and the remote and the resultant accelerated deterioration that they bring, or you can choose to get up, push yourself to do an hour, or a half hour, or 5 minutes of walking or other exercise. If you do choose to try for the quality of life and relative freedom that comes with increased muscular strength, take it slow! Do as much as you can, and then rest and recover. The next day, or later that day, hit it again. Believe me when I tell you that it does easier as you gain strength. Do not beat yourself up if you fail to achieve your goal on a particular day. Rather, resolve to try again tomorrow and the day after that and …

Another fear might be the fear of self-imposed embarrassment or blame associated with wearing an oxygen cannula in public. (Please hunt down and read my recent article(s) on my “Thumbs Up” Campaign…) Thing is, you may care about how you look wearing a cannula. NOBODY ELSE DOES!!! The rest of the world has their own problems, their own agenda, their own thoughts. If they do happen to notice you and seem to stare, just smile and throw them a “thumbs up.” We are trying so very hard to convince the folks who should be wearing oxygen to protect their heart and brain to do so! The incredible freedom that comes with wearing your cannula comfortably among strangers leads to greater activity, more fun, and a much greater quality of life.

If you can overcome those fears or whatever others that are holding you back from your desired quality of life, you will feel a freedom that is not available to those who are not willing to make the effort. Luckily, you needn’t approach disaster.  You need compete only with yourself.

I can’t guarantee you a medal, but I am certain that you will feel better about your life and your situation.

Make me proud.

~ Uncle Jim

Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them.

If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE wearableportable and stationary oxygen concentrators by visiting or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor. 

When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.

*By submitting this information, I authorize CAIRE to contact me including by phone.

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