I thought that header might get a lot of attention, but it really will make some sense to you by the end of this post. This week, a patient of mine died on my shift. I’ve only had a handful of MY patients die on my shift while I was taking care of them. Of course, deaths are expected in the hospital, but for nurses, it comes only a few times when you are THE actual nurse taking care of that patient. Many of our patients die, but not necessarily on my shift while I am their nurse. They may have died in the nursing home or in the emergency room or maybe they died in the ICU. God works in mysterious ways, I guess. Even though there are countless deaths that surround the nursing profession, he spreads the burden of those deaths through many nurses before it hits you again. I’ve had to place a body in a bag less than 5 times in the almost 8 years I’ve been a nurse. More than half of those personal deaths I’ve had was actually related to lung cancer. They didn’t die from complications of lung cancer (such as cancers from other parts of their body), but they actually suffer through suffocating to death. They go through the act of not being able to breath anymore and you see the terror in their eyes as their families watch in terror. I don’t know why that is, but I’ve had it happen three times, and all in the same manner. The only difference is the reactions of the families.
My patient from this week was DNR, which means Do Not Resuscitate. He was young. He left behind a wife, three kids and all his extended family. It was too late when he quit. He died of lung cancer after almost a year battling it with chemotherapy and all the problems that come with it. He had been smoking for almost thirty years. The day that it happened, he was fine. He was walking and talking just fine. There was even talks of going home the next day. It was another battle fought. Then that golden hour when it just suddenly happens hits them. I knew it was going to happen the moment he said he was having a hard time breathing and I was heartbroken. There is that look in the patients eyes and then that look of hope in their families’ eyes. It’s so weird, but it’s always been the same.
I guess my point is to say that smoking does the body no good. It is obviously a drug that keeps you wanting it and craving it. Do I judge people and hate people for smoking? Of course not. Do I preach people and tell people not to smoke? Of course I do- but only if you are my patient that I am taking care of at the hospital. Have I gone out with co-workers for smoke breaks? Of course I have. Do I have friends that smoke? YES I DO! Just because I feel that it is not healthy does not mean that I preach people about it because it is not my place. I LOVE BACON FAT, but I would be extremely annoyed if my friends told me to stop eating it because it is unhealthy for me. We’ve been told in school growing up to say no to drugs because of all the harmful things they do. We’ve been told not to eat fat because it clogs up your arteries and cause heart problems. We know that if we eat too much of anything unhealthy, we’ll be unhealthy. Too much fatty foods make you fat. One plus one is two and so forth. Smoking has been accepted in our culture. Maybe many people are really not that aware of their risks. I’m not here to tell you to quit smoking, but I think if you were well informed, it might help you make better choices in life. Just like you choose not to eat bacon fat every day of the week, you can choose the healthy route and cut back on your smoking. If this helps even one person to quit or try to quit, then I have done my piece. If not, I don’t judge. I’ll eat my bacon and you can have your smokes!
Here is some of the information I pass on to my patients from our pamphlets at my hospital about what happens almost immediately after you stop smoking! There is also a good video right after my post for all of your guys who prefer a visual. Okay. That’s my good deed for the year! Now if only I can quit eating unhealthy food every other day, I’d be set!
This is what happens after you stop smoking…
20 MINUTES AFTER: Blood pressure and pulse rate drop. The circulation to your hands and feet return to normal.
8 HOURS AFTER: Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to about half and oxygen level increases to normal.
24 HOURS AFTER: The chance of a heart attack decreases because your blood pressure has started to return to normal. You are also richer and healthier.
36 HOURS AFTER: Carbon Monoxide residue should be cleared from your system.
48 HOURS AFTER: Nerve endings start to regrow and the ability to smell and taste is enhanced.
2 WEEKS TO THREE MONTHS AFTER: Circulation improves and lung function increases. Your immune system is also a whole lot better at fighting off disease and sickness. You are on your way to a healthier you.
ONE YEAR AFTER: Excess risk of coronary heart disease decrease to half that of a smoker.
TEN YEARS AFTER: Risk of lung cancer (or mouth, throat, esophageal or pancreatic cancer) drops to as little as half that of continuing smokers.