When People Talk to Me Like I’m a Child Just Because I Use Oxygen


After I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, I gained a new perspective of the majority of the world — well, northern England and Australia at least.

Why do some people, passers-by, friends or even family member think we’re lazy, attention-seekers or drama queens if they see us using mobility aids?

To the passing population, we can be judged as snobby, standoffish, boring, rude or, again, lazy. No matter how much you explain why you need mobility aids, you hardly get any understanding or support. Instead, it’s judgmental looks and whispered rumors behind your back. You may even get the same kind of looks if you use something like a scooter.

Now if you use more recognized mobility aids or life-saving equipment, I’ve found we get a completely different type of judgmental stereotyping. Instead of rude comments, I get the dreaded patronizing and sympathetic looks. I use oxygen need to drag a cart behind me. I also use a mobility scooter that I call Daisy.

So when I walk around, I still have rude people who rush pass me then promptly trip over my oxygen cart. But then there are others like the people who held a door open for me while I was leaving a coffee shop who said, “Are you OK, sweetie?” But not in a normal voice. It was more like the voice you would use with a small child who might be lost. And then there was the gentleman who stood beside me at the crosswalk waiting for the lights to change who asked, “Are you OK crossing the road, dear?”

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not ungrateful if someone wants to or has helped me. But why do some people insist on using a voice like I am 4 years old. Just because we use oxygen, a wheelchair, a white cane or other life-saving equipment and mobility aids, we’re still grown-ups.

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