When I was in nursing school back in 1996, I remember being shown two pair of lungs…one in which the individual was a smoker, and the other pair in which the individual was exposed to second hand smoke. After seeing the black spots and damage to the lungs, I vowed then to not smoke and to stay as far as I could from individuals who did smoke.
We all have the right to choose how we want to live our life, and I know that until the early 60’s, many individuals were not fully informed about the consequences of smoking (cancers, lung disease, heart disease, etc.). Smoking was accepted by many as “the thing to do.” We probably all have something we know we should stop or not even start doing. So no judging here. I do believe that our actions have a direct or indirect effect on others (i.e. second hand smoke).
When I was Student Nurse, at one of the hospitals I worked at, I got to experience firsthand the potential consequences of smoking. Even as a Registered Nurse, I took care of many individuals who were smokers and wish they were not, as well as those who still smoked regardless of what they knew about smoking and its consequences. While I was a Student Nurse, I remember taking care of a lady in her early 60’s, whom I shall call Mrs. X. Mrs. X was so limited on what she could do for herself. She had been diagnosed with severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which is a progressive lung disease. Smoking is the primary cause of COPD.
It was heartbreaking to see Mrs. X become extremely exhausted after just washing her face. She wanted to do as much as she could for herself. Being present and witnessing how she struggled taking care of herself reinforced that I didn’t want to smoke, try to take care of myself the best way I knew how, and that I should be grateful for the things I could do for myself. I didn’t judge Mrs. X. I helped her that day and many more days after that one until she was discharged from the hospital.