• technology;
  • technology-dependent patients;
  • home mechanical ventilation;
  • phenomenological hermeneutics;
  • nursing

Aim.  The aim of this paper is to illuminate meanings of becoming dependent on home mechanical ventilator treatment.

Background.  People suffering from chronic alveolar hypoventilation and requiring home mechanical ventilation represent a small but increasing group in society, and are some of the most vulnerable individuals with chronic disabilities.

Method.  Thirteen people about to begin ventilator treatment at home were interviewed. Data were tape-recorded and analysed according to a phenomenological-hermeneutic method.

Findings.  Findings revealed two contrasting meanings of being in the process of becoming dependent on a ventilator, interpreted as getting breath or holding breath. This interpretation is presented in two composite stories.

Conclusions.  The findings imply possibilities and deficiencies in meeting patients’ existential needs, such as helping them to breathe spiritually by supporting them as they get their breath after such a life-changing event as becoming dependent on a ventilator.