'There's Not Much Worse Than Not Being Able to Breathe'

November 17, 2015

Mercy Clinic Dr. Kevin King

An excerpt from Mercy Clinic Dr. Kevin King's Letter to the Editor:

...My dad smoked till he was 60. I think he quit 10 times, maybe 15, before finally quitting. Everyone smoked when he grew up, and it was a struggle to quit. It was part of him, a pleasure, and a de-stressor.  But you could see him starting to struggle with his breathing over time on stairs, on hills, on projects. Fortunately, after many attempts, he quit. I’m so fortunate to have him healthier in my life, trying to keep up with his five grandchildren under 4.

It was easier for me to quit smoking. I started smoking in college because my dad did, my friends did and because tobacco companies handed out free stuff. I had a rude awakening early in medical school though, and quit after six years. It was hard, but seeing what it takes from the lives of patients and their families over and over again made it much easier for me to quit than many.

More recently, two older patients I had seen for six years in my young career as a family physician died from smoking and emphysema. I told them each that if they kept smoking, the illnesses would increase, last longer and require more medicine and more hospitalizations. The hospitalizations get longer and more frequent. There’s not much worse than not being able to breathe, or watching a loved one not able to breathe. Her mother moved from the hospital to the skilled nursing facility, home then back to the hospital, and so on. The patient became terrified to leave the house, and even her bedroom, as the medicine stopped working over the last few months. Many people think if they smoke, they’ll just go quickly. But, unfortunately, it’s the opposite.

I find most smokers want to quit, but they don’t know how. We can and will help you with this. There’s never a better time to quit than now, because it will only get harder. But be assured that your friends will be there for you, your family will be there for you, your kids and grandkids will be there for you...

To read the full letter, click here

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