What does disability mean? - CAIRE Inc.
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Contributed by Bob Rawlins, oxygen user and consultant to CAIRE Inc.~ 

July is Disability Pride Month in recognition of the Americans with Disabilities Act signed into law 32 years ago. This important legislation offered equal opportunities for people with disabilities affording them greater protections to actively engage in mainstream American life.

For some, this can be an awkward thing to celebrate. I suggest it is more of an awareness experience versus a celebration.

I like how Disability Pride Month and Independence Day are celebrated in the same month here in the United States.

You can achieve better freedom in your life even if you are disabled.

There are so many circumstances in life where a chronic illness or disability can happen and make it extremely difficult to celebrate.

Do you identify with this word in your life? If so, have you truly embraced this event or reality?

It is great to have a positive outlook thinking, “I am not disabled. I can still do many things.” That is the best of a cheerful outlook, but you also can’t deny that you are disabled. Being disabled often requires that you must understand any potential changes of lifestyle for your overall health and wellness.

My doctors said to me several times that they were proud of my desire to continue to live as normal a life as possible, but also said I was in denial. This being from the fact that before I got chronically sick, there wasn’t much I wouldn’t do.

I liked all the challenges of learning and living the many experiences I had the luxury of enjoying.

Freedom to do as I pleased was taken away. I didn’t want to admit I was disabled. But after two years, I realized that I was limited to a degree and had to realize for my own safety that I had to refrain from some activities.

For Americans, the Fourth of July allows us to celebrate freedom, and at the same time expand our awareness of the disabilities that are around us every day.

I like to think of this month as also a time to practice extra kindness. Being aware of those individuals that might have a disability and letting them know that they have the strength to live their life as best they can.

Seven years is a long time to be on oxygen 24/7. I can remember feeling resentful, angry, depressed, and plain useless at times. I refused to accept this way of thinking. Eventually, I told myself to accept this challenge like any other that you have in the past and understand how to make the best of it. I chose to challenge the limitations.

Freedom and disability, if you choose to accept it, are very much a rewarding combination. You seek the freedoms you can ascertain while understanding your own and others’ disabilities.

I remember a story of a 72-year-old woman on one of the many support groups I have been on. She had Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and shared with the group, “I don’t think of myself as being disabled most of the time.” She doesn’t view handicapped or disabled as being awful, but simply different. I love that. That is the freedom. 😊

She also said, “I think it is lovely when someone offers me help and I will accept it if I need it.” She added, “I will offer help to others if they need it.”

Think about that my friends, she has been disabled with a profoundly serious lung disease and is still willing to not only accept help, but continues to give help to others.

I remember that she finally said, she was grateful for all that she can still do. Freedom with a disability. Happy July!!!

How many of us are that kind? This is not designed to make you feel guilty, but to have the awareness to seek what help others might need.

Kindness also is a freedom we can express freely and at no expense. I honestly believe that the more kindness we can provide in this world the better our world will be.

If we are disabled with a chronic lung disease, we can try and live with the freedom of life concept and provide kindness to others.

Life is good friends.





Love you all,

Coach Bob

Bob Rawlins, 64, of Medina, Ohio, is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for those who suffer from respiratory diseases and have been prescribed supplemental oxygen therapy. He is husband to Terese and father to their 17-year-old triplets. He also has two grown twin sons and four grandchildren. He serves as a hospital volunteer, band dad and chaperone, and marketing guru.  

If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE by visiting www.caireinc.com/patients or by calling  1-800-482-2473 to talk to an oxygen advisor.

The contents of this blog post are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.