Ventilator-Assisted Living©

Fall 1990, Vol. 4, No. 2

ISSN 1066-534X

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Read selected articles from this issue ...

Breathing Failure in ALS & Handling Emergencies
Barbara Beal, RN, MN

For the Shape I'm In, I'm in Pretty Good Shape
F. Scott Cameron, Denver, Colorado

Consider Yourself a Home Care Ventilation Equipment Consumer
Jerry Daniel, Vancouver, Washington

"On" a Ventilator?
Audrey King, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Musings: Into the Wonderland of Words and Ventilators
Karan McKibben, PhD, Riverside, California

SCI Quads May Need Night Ventilation
John Quigley Jr., D. Min., Saint Louis, Missouri

National Center for Home Mechanical Ventilation

Home Ventilation in Germany
Matthais Wiebel, Heidelberg, Germany, and E.A. "Tony" Oppenheimer, Los Angeles, California

"On" a Ventilator?

Audrey King, Toronto, Canada

The last issue of IVUN News raised the question of terminology and drew a response from Audrey, a ventilator user from Canada, whose drawings accompany her thoughts, and from Karan, whose regular column in IVUN News, "Musings," also addresses the terminology.

Audrey writes, "The words we use conjure images which shape attitudes and consequently behavior. What does "on" a ventilator mean? It suggests a person lying across or sitting on a ventilator. Surely, to be accurate, the ventilator is on the person. Wouldn't it be more correct to say the person "uses" a ventilator? Or is it really the person who uses it? Perhaps it is the health professional and not the patient after all?"

Cartoons by Audrey King, showing a person in 3 positions "On" a ventilator and two "under."

Audrey continues, "Think about the fact that the astronaut is also dependent on complex assistive devices, even life support, in order to live and function in outer space. Yet he is not perceived as defective, sick, or disabled. Rather, it is his environment that is considered alien and unable to meet his particular physical needs. The astronaut is perceived as a competent responsible person who monitors his needs and maintains the equipment he is dependent upon.

"Many ventilator users are such 'responauts.' They consider themselves competent, responsible, and knowledgeable of their needs. They do not regard themselves as deficient or helpless. They perceive the environment to be the problem. Their physical needs can be addressed and maintained but the environment, both physical and attitudinal, presents enormous barriers to attaining the personal autonomy and independence so necessary for quality of life."

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