Smoking is something I have good reason to hate, as it is around 6 years now since someone I loved very much died from smoking-related heart disease, and I still miss him every day.
The person I am referring to is a man named Dennis, who was my live-in partner for several years (my virtual husband, we nearly got married). Sadly he was a very heavy smoker (amongst other health problems he had, like being overweight, diabetic and having an unhealthy diet. The smoking was the worst of all though!). He was 58 when he died and had been smoking since the age of 13, and had only ever managed to give it up for a few months at a time. Smoking causes congestive heart disease, among other health problems, which means that the arteries harden and become blocked and blood clots are much more likely. Dennis had had a non-fatal heart attack in his thirties, but still carried on smoking! As some addicts do…..
That was just the problem, he was completely addicted to smoking, and, worse still, he used to chain-smoke roll-ups, with no filter tips. He also smoked absolutely everywhere; i.e. in bed, in the bath, and on the toilet!!! (Don’t ask me how it is possible to smoke in the bath – you would think the cigarette would go soggy from the steam, if nothing else, wouldn’t you?! Somehow he managed it though!) He couldn’t breathe properly, since his lungs were always so polluted, naturally enough, but it affected his heart even more. When he went for medical tests (as a result of always feeling so ill, not surprisingly) it showed that all the arteries serving his heart were blocked, so he had to have a quadruple heart bypass operation. He was told in no uncertain terms in the hospital before the operation by all the medical staff that if he didn’t give up smoking there was no point in their doing the operation, as it would have no effect. He made an attempt to quit right after the operation, but it only lasted a few weeks, and then he was back puffing away again. He tried using the nicotine patches and had some initial success with them, but didn’t persevere with them. Two years later, he died quite suddenly from a second, and fatal, massive heart attack.
One of the things I used to find really infuriating about the constant smoking, apart from the fumes naturally, was that Dennis used to complain a lot that food always tasted bad, that he could never get anything decent to eat. I am not the least bit surprised, considering his taste-buds were permanently saturated with all those chemicals in the cigs, it is no wonder he could taste nothing else! I kept trying to tell him that that would be one of the many benefits of giving up smoking, that he would enjoy food a lot more and that his sense of smell would improve, but all to no avail.
It was all such a shame – I was devastated when he died, although I could hardly say it was unexpected. The post-mortem revealed that his heart was already damaged anyway, and that had probably happened over all those years; he was never going to live to be really old, with the way he had abused his health, but if he had been able to quit after having the heart bypass he might have maybe lived for around 10 more years, rather than only 2 more years. He once said: “These fags will kill me one day”, and so he predicted his own end (By the way, in Britain “fags” is slang for “cigarettes”, so that is not to be confused with the meaning it has in the US! I don’t want that comment to be misconstrued!).
I wish so much he had been able to quit smoking when he was younger, as then he may still be here today. He was a lovely, kind, caring, funny man, despite being a human chimney! I know he won’t mind me sharing his story with you, he would be glad if it helped someone in some way. RIP Dennis.
Hope you got something out of reading this blog, and I appreciate your votes and comments. (The picture shows us both, back in early days).