Become a Fan
By Letitia P. Blount
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Rated "G" by the Author.
If you are a smoker or you know someone who smokes this is a must read.
Letitia P. Blount
I started smoking at the age of twelve in the schoolyard with my peers. It took at least three weeks and I was addicted, and of course I couldnít afford my first bad habit. So I depended on my friends and stole a few cigarettes when I could. I couldnít understand what the withdrawals were but I knew a cigarette would fix it.
I remember one day my mother sent me to ask the neighbor who lived on the first floor for a cigarette. He asked me why I didnít give her one of mine. My face froze and the fear of my mother finding out set in. He never told her, but I ended up confessing to her like the foolish child I was. Whenever fear entered the equation I would blurt out the truth without being asked. I received a cussing out and a down-home butt whooping, but my addiction was bigger than my fear and I continued to sneak to smoke. My intake of nicotine increased and it became impossible to see me without a cigarette attaching my hand to my mouth. I loved smoking. It was my best friend. I could always count on them cigarettes to be there whenever I was in need.
At the age of seventeen my left lung collapsed. To this day I have no idea what caused it. The pain was unbearable and my mother rushed me to the hospital where I was given a Pneumothorax (a tube in the chest to inflate the lungs). After weeks in the hospital I was smoke free, but I started stealing cigarettes from my brother and smoking out my bedroom window. I was caught and started smoking full-time again.
Now and then I was told to stop smoking or I smoked too much, but it went through my ears like a blast of cold air that disappears when you quickly open a door. About nine months later my right lung started to ache. I was afraid to tell anyone, but afraid to ignore it because I didnít want another tube inserted into my chest.
I went to see the doctor and he told me I had a cyst on my right lung. The surgery was set and I spent weeks in the hospital during the blizzard of 1978. I returned home and tried to stay away from cigarettes, and I did for a little while. But it took just one puff and I was back in full action.
As time went on my habit increase to a pack and half a day, I smoked a cigarette every fifteen to twenty minutes. My husband called me the chimney. My house smelled of cigarettes as if it was an air freshener.
Oh, I forgot to mention I lost both my mother and sister to breast and lymphoid cancer. So I knew better but my addiction was a zillion times bigger than my willpower. I was also afraid of the withdrawals. I would lose control of myself so I could sympathize with a junkie even though what we were doing to our bodies was worse than we could ever imagine.
It was the summer of 1993 and we were having a cookout. I decided I would play volleyball with the kids. I became so exhausted and couldnít breathe. I couldnít catch or slow down my breathing. I knew something was wrong. The pain of my lung collapsing danced in my head. My body was shouting at me, I could hear it, but I didnít want to hear it. I didnít want to claim it. I knew what it was, but I was only thirty two and half-heartily thinking this couldnít be happening to me. Not me!
The next day I went alone to the emergency room. They asked all kinds of questions like did I have Asthma and gave me a breathing treatment that cleared my lungs, and my chest no longer felt like it was being squeezed by a vice grip. An x-ray was taken and the doctor came and told me the results. I seen his lips moving, but there was no sound. I just smiled at him, and he stared at me. I smiled whenever I was nervous or scared but I knew he didnít know that so he must have thought I was simple. He left and the nurse came in. She passed me in the diagnosis of my test. I couldnít understand what the doctor wrote. I guess every part of me went straight into denial. One thing I knew was I needed a cigarette. Anyways, I asked her what it said, and she answered Emphysema and itís severe. I responded Oh! She looked at me her eyes filled with pity for me. I smiled. I needed to get out of there.
I stood at the bus stop and lit a cigarette; Iíve been doing it so long, it was my comfort and now my enemy. I felt so stupid but anyone of you knows if you smoke you canít just throw the cigarettes away. Well maybe some of you can. I couldnít. I rode on the bus in a daze. I didnít know how to feel. I told my family but I guess it just didnít penetrate because we didnít discuss it anymore. I accepted having the disease, but quitting smoking was still a huge challenge. I would quit for months at a time and start again. Several years of this back and forth went on. My husband, God bless him because I put him through hell, because he stayed on me and he really wanted to see me succeed.
Then the agony of being short of breath kicked in. Emphysema is a slow progressing disease so thatís why it took years to start showing its face.
Thatís when all the medications started coming in: Albuterol, Advair, Singulair, Flonase, Asterlin, Spiriva, and the Oxygen that I fought against until I had to take it. So now I have a concentrator, portable oxygen tanks and a big one that sits in my bathroom just in case the power goes out. I have to use the oxygen when Iím sleeping, upon exertion, and whenever I leave the house. Itís not a twenty four hour thing but it was hard for me to get use to. I am air sensitive and that means one minute my nose is running and the next minute itís dry from the oxygen so my nose gets sore.
Time went on and I live my life as normal as I can, and there are many things I can no longer do. It took a longtime for me to forgive myself, and at times Iím not sure I have. I have been smoke-free for six years but when I have bad days I can still beat-up on myself because of what I did to put myself through all of this. I am now forty-five with lungs like a seventy or eighty year old man with the same disease. Thatís what the doctors tell me, and that I need a lung transplant. But thatís a whole other story.
Lately Iíve been getting sick with Pneumonia and have spots on my lungs that have me dealing with test that make me want to run and hide. No matter how many times I say this is going to help me, and theyíre only helping me, IT HURTS LIKE HELL!
I had a Broncoscopy and thatís when they stick a tube down your throat and fill you up with saline and take cultures. When I woke up I sounded like a coffee percolator every time I inhaled.
I recently had a chest biopsy and there was a risk that my lung could collapse. I began to cry as soon as they rolled me into the room. Remember I have already experience a collapsed lung. I knew the pain; I knew the procedure. Now when I cry I canít breathe, and then my nose starts to run with the oxygen on; I was miserable. I prayed the test would go well and quick. I couldnít stop crying and they werenít going to put me asleep. I braced myself for the first shot of Novocain, but nothing could prepare me for the pressure of the needle that was going in my chest. The pressure made me want to jump up and run and if my lung collapsed oh well. Can you imagine that? But I laid still and he would push the needle in, take a picture, and push the needle in. Each I time I was moved in to the CT scan I panicked and I had to hold my breath so it was difficult. He finally cut the pieces he need for the Pathologist and removed the needle. I calmed down but Iím a crier and if I didnít get it out, every time someone said something I would tear up. It took forty-five minutes for the whole procedure but it seemed like hours to me. My doctor told me it went well and he didnít think my lung would collapse. I was happy, in pain but happy.
I was rolled back to the room and my crying session was over. As soon as we reached the door I felt extreme pain shoot through my left lung. I started coughing. I heard a pop and felt it too. MY LUNG COLLAPSED. However the leakage wasnít enough to have a tube inserted. Thank God! The test came back negative and I am forever grateful for the prayers, and God wrapping me up in his love.
My reason for telling you this is because I donít want you to put on my shoes and walk down the same path. Emphysema is like A.I.D.S and Cancer they donít discriminate. If you were to see me in person you would think everything I told you was lie. But it lives in the body and itís quiet but it progresses and you wonít know itís there until it starts taking revealing its self.
I hope reading my story will convince you to stop, or not to ever start. Smoking is dangerous to your health.
Copyrights © 2005 Letitia P. Blount
Site: Champagne on the Hill Publishing
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|Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU
Blessed are those that learn to be free, and dare to show the scars
violation of Nature's harmony
to serve as a warning.
I have learned a life's lesson reading this courageous and outstanding writing titled, "Smokecology".
I salute the author of "Smokecology".
In gratitude and reverent admiration, always.
Andre Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU