My daddy, (step-dad since I was 4 years old), has been a 2 pack-a-day smoker for 55 years. On March 13th of 2019 he had a heart attack. He was rushed into procedure where they put 2 stints into his heart. Technology is amazing now. He was in and out by the following day. While in the hospital he wore a nicotine patch and said he felt great and didn’t crave a cigarette. As soon as he left the hospital, he tore the patch off and smoked. The next day, he wore a patch that I had purchased but tore it off later and continued to smoke. He then said, “those patches are giving me headaches. I don’t like them”, as he walked out for another cigarette. I looked at my mom and said, “it’s in his head, you know. All that is in those patches is the same thing that’s in his cigarettes! I can’t believe he can’t just quit! I’ve been a smoker and I’ve never had a problem quitting.” My blood father passed away 3 years ago after a quadruple bypass on his heart. While they were lifting him up in the bed to adjust him, his heart failed and he died. He was a smoker who quit but a severe diabetic who refused to give up soda and bad eating habits.
So I went home that evening angry and frustrated. How dare he be so selfish! How dare he shorten his time from us. How dare he expect US to take away from OUR lives to take care of him in his final days because he CHOOSES to smoke and not help himself. Prior to his heart attack he was diagnosed with acute COPD! What more do you need to change?! How dare he! Then…….I stopped.
How many doctor’s appointments have I been to where the doctor faced me and warned me that if I didn’t stop my bad eating habits, I was going to die? High blood pressure, diabetes and nerve damage in both feet didn’t stop me. It wasn’t enough that I had children at home who depended on me. My oldest daughter, bless her beautiful soul, had to tie my shoes because I couldn’t bend over. Who the fuck am I to lecture dad about addiction? Of course it was easy for me to stop smoking. I wasn’t addicted to smoking. I’m addicted to food! There are not enough warning labels or words that could convince me that consuming “orange” mac and cheese is unhealthy. Secretly I know it but the taste. The taste FEELS good. I’m sure that’s how dad feels when he smokes. His security is in that cigarette. It’s safety, it’s familiar, it FEELS good. I have no idea how to help him but what I do want to do is love him and not lecture him because I don’t know how long I have with him and I sure as hell don’t want my last memories to be miserable. I don’t want my last memories to be of me on his ass every day about smoking. I’ve always said – I’d rather die with a burger in my hand and 500 pounds than someone telling me what I CANNOT do with my own life. Addiction is the devil.