Tuesday, June 21, 2016

To those who love someone who smokes

Christmas party, 2006
Pardon the non-sewing-related rant:

My dear husband of 22 years and 51 weeks passed away on Friday.
He went to the hospital for an angiogram on May 23, had a quadruple bypass less than 24 hours later.  The bypass was successful, his heart was recovering.  He had been a heavy smoker for 50 years and his lungs never recovered.  They found 2 spots, one on the outside of his lungs was an infection.  The one on the inside of his lungs was biopsied 3 weeks later and found to be malignant.
His lungs wouldn't function and he had been in a chemically induced coma for almost 3 weeks.

On June 17th, his heart gave out and he passed away.

After 22 years and 51 weeks of marriage to a smoker, I have some observations for those who love someone who smokes.

Company party in Galveston, TX 2008
You can't nag them into stopping.  Don't marry someone thinking you will change them.  You will simply change them into your EX.

If you fight it, you will not win.  The dependent relationship with cigarettes is longer and more ingrained than the relationship with you.

They won't want to exercise, this increases the chances of diabetes and heart disease.

Brace yourself for a long fight if anything else goes wrong.  They might not die of lung cancer.  But, it makes EVERYTHING else that goes wrong with their body more difficult.

Control the second hand smoke.  If they smoke in the house keep your clothes and fabric covered.  I was once warned of this by a recruiter when looking for work.

2012 with DIL and son in Austin
Find the good hospital you're probably going to need it.   Smoking increases your odds of many, many diseases including several cancers like bladder, throat and mouth cancer as well as circulatory problems and heart problems.

Get to know nurses, they are wonderful people and the good ones have more influence over the Dr's than you would think.  They will also talk to you straight and share more information.

The things that modern medicine can do for the heart are amazing!  They can crack your chest open and redo the entrance ramps, replace the valves and even replace it with a little mechanical heart.
The options for lungs are limited.  The tissue is special and can not be replaced once it is destroyed.  It absorbs stuff in the air around you and sends it right into your body so take care what you put in your lungs.
June 26, 1993

That being said, I do not regret going along for the ride.  I loved him so much.  He was such a smart man who always chose to do right and being with him taught me so much.  He sharpened my sense of humor and challenged me to grow and become what I am today.  He supported me when I was weak, laughed and cried with me.

He had been taken off of the sedatives, pain killers and paralytics after almost three weeks.  He couldn't talk with the tracheostomy and respirator, but his face was expressive.  The first things to come to life were his eyebrows and he could speak volumes without making a sound.  He interacted with me Friday morning.  I told him about my job and my day, he was so happy to hear from me and I knew that he loved me.  Two hours later I got the phone call at the office that he was in cardiac arrest.  When I got to the hospital the doctor explained they weren't able to revive him and the lab tests were positive for cancer.  I don't know if he would have made it through cancer treatments, but it would have been excruciating.  He got to go on a high note, still working, still loved and still choosing and that would have been his preference.

If you are willing to wrap your heart around someone, you have to love strong enough to let them make their own decisions.  You have to be able to accept letting go.

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