Thursday, September 4, 2008

COPD, a Smoker's Disease

The doctor repeated words like "COPD" and "Emphysema," foreign terms to our ears.  So I looked them up.  COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.   By 2020 it will move up to the third leading cause of death.  About 1/2 of the 32 million who currently have it are unaware they are afflicted with it.
"24/7.  Oxygen for the rest of her life," he says.  
"But why?" we ask.  
"She used to smoke." 
"Yes, but she hasn't so much as touched a cigarette in years!"
I've known her for 44 years.  I remember our warnings.  I remember the grandkids finding cigarettes under cushions, in drawers, and other hiding places and tossing them into the toilet or the trash.  By that time the dangers of smoking were clear.  You only had to look at the warnings on the packages or up on the billboards.

Our pleadings mattered little.  

Until she contracted pneumonia.  The doctor said, "Stop smoking" and she did.  Cold turkey. No weaning.  No cigarette substitutes.  We were amazed at the willpower.
It seems like smoking has been a non- issue for so long.  Now we need to open our eyes to its future consequences not only on a family member but  on my husband and his brother who innocently breathed in clouds of second-hand smoke.   

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