Slow Suicide

Imagine that you are 23 years old.

You are also a ‘brittle’ asthmatic.  This means that you can have asthma attacks that can rapidly progress to life-threatening status.  You have been intubated in ITU a couple of times – this is a last ditch treatment to keep you alive.

So why, whenever you get taken to hospital, would you treat your disease as a mere annoyance?

Also – why would you smoke 20–40 cigarettes a day, knowing that it will make your asthma worse?

And why would you self-discharge yourself from the resuscitation room against medical advice only to require a blue-light return straight back to the resuscitation room?


It’s just a form of slow suicide…

15 thoughts on “Slow Suicide”

  1. I guess some people are in denial about how ill they actually are. This person sounds daft, but it must be difficult to cope with a serious illness like that.

  2. I'm amazed how many asthmatics smoke. I have a friend who refuses to do the vacuuming because the dust it kicks up aggravates his asthma. He will, however, stand outside the house having a ciggy while his wife vacuums. Unbelievable that he doesn't see the contradiction, and that his wife lets him get away with it.I do think there are business opportunities in this. I'm applying for a patent on a combined ventolin inhaler / cigarette lighter… one less thing to carry around.

  3. Why are you assuming that someone living with brittle asthma equates health with longevity? Some people feel that health is more than what their body is doing – it is about enjoying your life for as long as it is. Maybe their life with asthma is so shite that ciggies give them something that makes them feel ok for a while?I don't blame this individual for treating their asthma as a mere annoyance – it sounds like it is. They aren't in denial either – this is just how they deal with their disability.

    However, understanding this person requires being be a bit less dogmatic in one's definition of health – and I respect that this can be tricky/frustrating when you work in 'front line medicine'.

  4. you can only help people who want to help themselves, its there life and how they want to live it. I used to be an asthmatic and a smoker 20-40 a day i stopped smoking and my asthma stopped haven't had to touch a inhaler now for 4 years nearly and i'm a lot fitter my excuse was i used to smoke to let the non smokers catch up with me. what a PRAT i was.

  5. I am not trying to defend anything, especially suicide, but ask any coke head, crack whore, heroin addict or alcoholic who's gone clean to stop smoking. They will almost surely tell you that kicking their addiction was much easier than trying to stop feeding the demon known as cigarettes. I've found it takes many smokers many tries over a span of years, sometimes, to totally kick the habbit. The key, so I've heard, is the smoker must want to stop. The desire to stop comes from experiencing enough pain. Sadly, some people do not experience enough pain until they are…dare I say…dead.

    I've found it best to think of smokers as just being a sick (in the head) friend, and smoking itself as just being a symptom of thier sickness. Thus, I do not mind helping those who try to help themselves. And the others must be left to their own devices.

    I'm not trying to argue a softer point toward you. It is one thing to slowly kill yourself and a totally different beast to take the helpless and innocent down with you (i.e. children).

    I'm just curious how many people you have helped to quit smoking by getting angry with them? Hint: Whether you unleash your anger on them or keep it within yourself is not applicable to your answer.

    Or I could just be blowing smoke.

    If you figure out how to get poeple to stop for sure, I need to know first. Thanks!

  6. chiming in from the “chronic illness” point of view, because you're bloody pissed off (excuse the language but that's as mild as I can put it) with the pain, the fuss, the disruption to your life, that has been going on for years now Every Sodding Time you have an attack… and you know that even if you stopped smoking and did everything the doctors told you it still wouldn't go away.So you want to get on with things, enjoy your cigarettes, and frankly if you die young you die young and then at least there'll be an end of it, and you'll have *lived* a bit rather than tiptoeing through existence following a strict medical regime.

  7. A similar chronic-condition viewpoint to that of batsgirl:Because, you're 23 years old, and you've had a chronic condition all your life so you don't know any different; to you it's just normal life. And whilst other people might see trips to hospital as something rare and scary, you are completely used to going into hospital and you feel comfortable and feel safe there, and your trips there are annoying because they are a frequent disruption to your routine, nothing to get worked up about.

    And you discharge yourself from the resuscitation room against medical advice because you'll have done so countless times before, without having any problems. You get fed up with being told to slow down, take it easy, take precautions. You have a live to live; you may be missing work, or a dinner with friends, or a carefully-planned trip to IKEA – there's stuff to do – you don't need the hassle! You are certain that you know your own body better than the doctors and that you will be OK if you leave rather than hanging around wasting time in a hospital. Unfortunately this time you were wrong.

    And you smoke because you're just like any other 23 year old that smokes: you think you're invincible. Also, you don't want to admit to yourself that you are in any significant way incapacitated or different to anyone else.

    That is why.

  8. I understand why people might feel that they want to live life but surely it is sensible to not make your condition worse.I speak from experience having two chronic illnesses – asthma and IBS. I have to avoid smoky places (looking forward to the smoking ban!) and various foods/drinks (including alcohol). I know some people think that boring but I would rather take care of myself than suffer the consequences.

  9. Great comments, but I beg to disagree.I was a heavy smoker for years and I didn't think much of puffing two packs a day, with gusto. One day my doctor told me that there was an immediate danger to my health because of my habit.

    I registered with the NHS Stop Smoking, joined the group, followed the nurse advice, used the nicotine patches for a few weeks and got on with my life, end of. It is now a few years since Ive quit and I never looked back.

    I can't actually believe I even started in the first place but in Italy smoking is much more common and accepted and I just did what everybody else did. When it was time to choose between cigarettes and being alive, though, there was no contest. I simply can't understand how anybody would choose otherwise.

    I am not bragging and I'm not saying that it was easy. However a lot of people make it sound so excruciatingly difficult and it ISN'T. I feel they convince themselves it is and *pop* you have a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    As for comparing withdrawals symptoms from heroin with quitting smoking Please! I dont have personal experience with smack but have you ever seen someone giving up heroin? How can you compare THAT against the desire of lighting up? Have you ever seen someone shaking with diarrhoea and vomiting, having cramps and thrashing on the floor because they couldnt have a cigarette? Get real.

    *end of preaching and making myself some enemies*

  10. Its been 7 weeks and 3 days since I gave up smoking, and its been so incredibly hard. So much harder than I ever imaged it would be, or could be.I work in a drug service for a mental health trust, and deal with a number of crack and heroin addicts, and have friends who have been junkies too. They all agree that stopping smoking is harder. Yes, the initial withdrawal from heroin is alot tougher, but this is talking about the first few months.

    Alot of people couldn't understand why I still smoked, after having held my Dads hand as he died of lung cancer. But an addict is full of excuses. Reasons they can't give up. If they could give up easily, they wouldn't be an addict.

    Yes, smoking is slow suicide, but don't think it is lesser than any other addiction.

  11. Yes, I have seen people giving up heroin, crack, coke, meth, x, alcohol, hydrocodone, huffing, etc. But I ask, did you talk to them after the withdrawls? Did you talk to them a month or even a year later?Depending on what they were coming off of, the pain of withdrawls can become so servere that they don't even remember going through them. Or it all just seems like one big blur. One remembers every moment of quitting cigarettes. And they've lost their means of “dealing” with situations, people and most of all themself. But if one decides (as you did), it is easy I would imagine. To decide though, one must have enough pain (as I stated earlier) and be convinced that to continue is to die. No addict in the middle of their addiction has the capability of either of those. Something must pull them out of their head.

    So, I propose a question to you. How many people have you help quit smoking by telling them its so easy? How many have you helped by belittling?

    Just curious.

  12. Hello Sidney,Thanks for your message. Youre making many valid points but Im afraid I still see it differently.

    Nicotine doesnt allow to deal with situations, people and oneself. A few minutes after youve finished your cigarette the nicotine level in your blood starts slowly decreasing until it reaches a level where you get a craving. If you are stressed and you have a cigarette, all you are getting relief from is the craving, not the stress. You are, however, feeling somewhat better and you wrongly make the association Nicotine = Stress Relief. In reality smoking doesnt do anything to lower your stress level, otherwise youd have a world of relaxed smokers and very stressed non-smokers, wouldnt you?

    As for my reasons of quitting, you are right. Until I was told that I had to quit, I didnt. Many times I expressed the wish to stop smoking but I didnt even try. And why was that? Because of all the stories Ive heard about how horrifyingly difficult it was to stop, how crippling the cravings were, how totally hopeless the whole thing was. Then, when I did it, I was rather surprised to find out that it was hard but not as shockingly evil as some people made it.

    I am not belittling the effort and energy required to stop smoking (you quoted me wrong as I never said it was so easy). I am simply saying that with a bit of determination – and much, much less drama – it can be done. And people do it all the times.

    People that achieve their goals know very well that positive reaffirmation (I can do it!) works much better than self-doubt (oh, I dont know, they say its so hard, I dont think I can do it, Im a squid after all).

    Finally, I dont know how many people I have helped quit with my positive, can-do attitude. Probably only two, but then again most of the people I know arent morons like me and never started smoking in the first place!

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