Yesterday, I learned that a resident had passed away. She was a smoker who had lost her battle with lung cancer. She leaves behind a precious 7 year old daughter.
Yesterday, I was reminded of my Aunt Maggie. She passed away when I was 9. She was a smoker because it was her life and she’d do what she wanted with it. She was a nurse. She touched countless lives. One day she got what she thought was a cold. 2 weeks later, she was dead. She had what they call “old-fashioned pneumonia” because it kills so fast. Imagine how many more lives she could have touched had she not died. Imagine her 8 year old daughter, my cousin, growing up without her mom. All because it was her life and she’d do with it as she pleased. *sigh*
I was a smoker. I smoked my first cigarette when I was 10. I started smoking regularly when I was 13 and quit when I was 18. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was to quit smoking. I did it for my kids. These three precious children who I didn’t even know at the time. I knew that someday though, I wanted to know them. I didn’t want to poison them during my pregnancy and breastfeeding. I wanted to be around to see them grow up, get married, have their own kids. Please people, your life is not about you. You think you’re cool, a rebel, stickin’ it to the man. You’re not. You’re being taken advantage of by tobacco companies. You might as well roll up a dollar bill and smoke it. Or you could take that dollar bill and save it for your children’s education fund. You’ll drastically increase your chances of actually being around to see them use the education fund. You’re not cool. You stink. Your teeth are yellow. Your fingers are yellow. If you get cancer and go through chemo, you lose your hair. Not all at once, just in patches. You get open sores all over your body. You are in constant pain. Nothing tastes good. You don’t have the energy to even get up to use the bathroom. Someone has to come and help you onto a bedpan, or change your brief if they can’t get to you in time to put you on a bedpan. If you’re smoking to fit in with your friends, imagine your friends in a nursing home, in the condition I just described. Do you really want to fit in with them? Do you want your children to fit in with their children? Motherless or fatherless? 7 or 8 years old and dressed in black at your funeral? Yes, a lot of smokers don’t die that young. But a lot do. You don’t know until it happens if it will be you or not.
On a brighter note,
Today, I worked with a woman, let’s call her Pam. (NOT her real name.) I was encouraging her to eat her snack, so she could put some weight on. Alzheimer’s patients often have difficulty getting enough nutrients. She was doing well. Then she saw her husband through the window, walking towards us. She thrust the snack into my hands, called out excitedly, “My husband!” and ran to meet him. She wrapped her arms around his chest, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head. She said again, “My husband!” then brought him back to me and said to him, “Introduce yourself!” I’d met him before a couple of times, but that’s okay. She doesn’t remember. My point is how sweet this scene was. She was walking around on his arm for awhile, just beaming. I hope someday to have someone so special in my life that I beam like that. I hope that I have someone that cares about me enough to come visit me even if I forget who they are, as she eventually will.
I’m so honored and blessed to be able to care for people like these.