“Smokers are always worried about getting the big C! No, not Cancer but COPD! Of course cancer is on their minds but COPD can kill you in an instant. If not worried maybe you should be. COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. “Progressive” means the disease gets worse over time. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke.
COPD is a major cause of disability, and it’s the third leading cause of death in the United States. COPD develops slowly. Symptoms often worsen over time and can limit your ability to do routine activities. Severe COPD may prevent you from doing even basic activities like walking, cooking, or taking care of yourself.
As a person at the advanced stage I can tell a major side effect. BLACK-OUTS…
No, not the alcohol kind! Haven’t had those since the late 70’s and very early 80’s. I’m talking about doing everyday activities. Taking a shower, cooking dinner, typing at the computer or relaxing and watching TV. If you are lucky, like I was last night in my La-Z-Boy, you would just regain consciousness with a strange feeling determining where you are. Or like other times the past 5 years with a hole in your skull, in a pool of blood, laying on hard tile or concrete. Not to mention hitting the corner of a piece of furniture or in one case knocking out a couple spindles of a dining room chair! Or the embarrassing ones when you black out on the toilet with your pants down around your ankles or stark naked while in the shower. A hot shower is not a friend of someone with advanced stages of COPD.
There is no cure. Once your lungs are gone they are gone! I could quit smoking today and never do what I used to do. Everything from just getting in and out of bed becomes a chore. I used to work 100+ hours a week. I was in the Navy, had another full time job, went to college, and tried to raise a family all at the same time. What my body can no longer do makes my mind trying to fill in the gap. Sleeping pills are starting to have no effect.
I thought I had it figured out a few years ago. I could tell when the black outs were coming. I would start coughing a few times, grab my inhaler and go to the ground to minimize the damage. I even bragged to myself that this couldn’t kill me. As with most diseases this evolved/got worse. Just one cough and before the word Oh Shit could come out of my mouth, down I went! Just amazes me sometimes the weird places I find myself. You really need to picture this! I have a $2000 solid oak roll top desk. To my left is a wall. I sit in a $300 solid oak chair with the pullout of my roll top blocking my right side. On three different occasions I found my face on the floor under the pullout and still sitting in my chair. I couldn’t do that if I tried and probably couldn’t achieve that in my prime! Of course the arm of my chair has suffered some damage. After all, 250 pounds in a freefall can cause some damage!
I’m not saying everyone that smokes will have this issue. I’m talking about the real smokers. I just laugh when I hear of those that quit smoking on the patch or cold turkey. I asked them how much they smoke. Oh, a pack a week…. I still admire them for their accomplishment since they didn’t let it get this far! I’m not talking about Clinton’s disease, I smoked but didn’t inhale. I’m talking to those that get every bit of that $3 to $10 pack of cigarettes to get their moneys worth. One pack, two packs, or 5 packs a day smoker. I used to be a 5 pack a day smoker. Just can’t do it in today’s economy! However, I’m not a wimp when it comes to smoking. I smoked 3 packs on Monday, 2 1/2 Tuesday and Wednesday, and don’t get me started on today! I’m addicted to Nicotine and Menthol!! But the word I want to put out there is that your little 5 cig a day habit can quickly transform into 5 packs a day. I’m no dummy. I always graduated in the top or top few in my class. But when it comes to my smoking habit, I am just a moron!
I was never afraid of cancer. I was never afraid of dying. But I am telling you from my heart, that severe cases of COPD makes you wish you were dead. I used to be athletic. I used to run marathons. I used to have 6 pack abs. I used to have guns that would now be illegal in some states. I will not have any of that again. Thanks to the support of my family I march on. I’m not looking for pity and please don’t respond with any. My goal is to educate. Commercials on TV about someone suffering from cancer that smoke is just a small part of the big picture. Just because they smoked and have cancer doesn’t mean that smoking was the cause. I guarantee you they had COPD long before then. The commercials on TV for Advair and other inhalers make COPD look like mild asthma. since they picture all COPD victims as a whole.
I used to blame myself for being lazy and not getting back into shape. I never could understand how someone like myself would get into the shape I am today. Yes, I am responsible for my smoking habit. Something as innocent as passing out “It’s a boy” cigars when I was 31 has planned my destiny. Maybe I can add to that destiny the fact I am trying to educate others on the addiction of smoking. It is NOT just cancer. It is the inability to perform day to day tasks. It is going from a strapping young man with a 28 waist to a blimp with a waist of 40 that may or may not be buttoned.
Many, many years ago, over 30, I tried to commit suicide. Not because of my smoking, even though that is what I am ending up doing if I don’t quit. At that time I didn’t smoke. My first wife and I were breaking up and I went AWOL from the Navy and left Hawaii to save my marriage in Virginia. While waiting for her to come home from work, I was drinking under the front porch in the dark. She arrived in the parking lot with some strange man and proceeded to make out. After bashing the windshield with a bat, I always loved baseball, I went inside and grabbed a knife. I lived, wouldn’t be writing this now if I didn’t. I took the car I bought her and went home to South Carolina. A few days later I gave a speech in front of my old high school auditorium to tell the tale about how such a great student has fallen to the darkest depth. That was the last time I heard a bunch of students in a school not make a sound.
Never thought of suicide like that again. Maybe reaching out to help others is all I need to quit this terrible addiction.”
Something my dad wrote last night. One of the worst feelings in the world is wanting nothing more than to help someone you love, but being able to do absolutely nothing.