The case for selfishness …

Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~

Since you were just a little bitty thing, you were told not to be selfish. Selfishness, coveting something, refusing to put others first, was portrayed as a bad thing, a sure way to incur the displeasure of Mommy and Daddy. As you grew, you carried that lesson with you. For the most part, it served you well. It allowed you to be viewed as a generous being, someone who cared for others.
Okay. So is it always bad to be selfish? Let’s talk about that.
If you have flown on a commercial airplane in the last umpteen years, you have been politely asked to watch the nearest flight attendant demonstrate some stuff. It is handy to know how to fasten your seat belt, although it could be argued that if you really needed that information, you should not be flying alone. The location of the exits would be handy if something catastrophic happened involving the aircraft and the ground, which of course would never happen to you. The flotation capabilities of your seat cushion are routinely ignored, especially on flights over Nebraska.
There is one set of instructions that nicely ties in. That is the whole thing about the oxygen masks magically dropping from the ceiling should there be a drop-in air pressure. Since absence of air would make it difficult to breathe without outside help, they provide the little masks. Now, that part of the lecture highly recommends putting on one of the masks before assisting anyone else, such as a child, to don theirs.
What? What happened to selflessness, to chivalry, to the generosity that we have been hammered with seemingly forever? Well, be as generous as you want, but be aware that you are risking unconsciousness and death. So much for being selfless. So, that is a great example of putting yourself first, so that you can help others. It actually makes sense.
So, what in the world does all of this have to do with those of us with a history of lung disorders? Well, in the recent past, I have written articles about the communication that must happen between the patient and his or her caregiver, his or her family and friends. It is obvious that no one can truly empathize with the experiences of the lung disease patient, the breathlessness, the exhaustion, the seemingly ceaseless coughing. The symptoms, the dreaded supplemental oxygen hose, the weakness are too often things to be hidden from the world. That can only result in misunderstandings, in anger, in accusations, in confusion.
Given the gumption, the determination, the SELFISHNESS to learn all that they can about their lung disorder, the patient is then in the position to exercise their right to educate the family and friends about the disease and its effects on them. This is, logically, an exercise in selfishness! The patient must put themselves first, they must place their situation ahead of the other concerns of their caregiver and others in order to get someone to listen! The patient must demand that others listen, that they gain some understanding of the challenges involved.
There will be resistance. The patient cannot expect the others, the family and friends, to read their minds! It may seem self-centered, it may seem selfish, but it is the only way that the others can possibly understand.
So, learn what you can. Demonstrate the selfishness to share that knowledge. Quit hiding your symptoms! It may involve putting yourself first for a change, but with luck and persistence, it should bring everyone closer.

~ 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.

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