So I had an early stage COPD patient today, and as is my job, I encouraged her to quit smoking. I didn't go as far to say she HAD to quit, but more so provided her with the ammo, and the incentive to do so, and pointed her in the right direction. That's, basically, how it goes. We RTs (as do RNs) plant seeds, and hopefully these seeds eventually blossom.
Yet this patient was adamant she wasn't going to quit smoking, "I love smoking. I have no interest in quitting. I love smoking when I have coffee in the morning, lunch, dinner, break at work. I just love it. Of course I know smoking is bad, but I don't want to quit. I know I should, but... you know."
"However, "I said, "Here is the information you need to quit. When you're ready to use it, you have it at your fingertips. Read up. Know what works best. Know the facts."
"Um, my doctor provided me with a pamphlet, and it said within 10 years your risk of other diseases goes down, but he said your COPD will keep progressing anyway. So I think: what's the point."
"I think you misunderstood your doctor. Either that or he's dead wrong. Because by all the facts I've read, your COPD will never go away if you quit, but it will be a lot easier to manage, progression will be slowed way down, and you will be able to live as you are now for a lot longer."
"Still," she said, "It's something I love to do. My daughter smokes too, and my husband. We just love doing it together."
Denial. The first step is admitting you have a problem. And that's the great thing about this country is you have a right to be stupid. However, I think this lady wants to quit, yet it's easier not to. It's easier to make excuses.
She said her grand daughter keeps trying to get her to quit. I said, "You should quit for her, so you can be around as she grows up."
"Yeah," she said, "But if it's gonna be, it's gonna be."
I told her I understand her completely. I remember teasing my grandpa when I was a kid, that he should quit. He said, "I'd rather smoke, enjoy life, and be happy, and die young than live to be 100 and not have enjoyed life as I do now."
I understand grandpa completely. However, when he started smoking, the facts about the dangers weren't plastered everywhere as they are today. There are way too many facts, too many studies, that show smoking, and second and third hand smoke, is dangerous. Too many studies that show quitting is beneficial in every single way you can think.
"I know I'm going to sound like a parent when I say this," I said, "But you're responsible for your decisions. I understand your quest to be happy, but there are other things you can do to find happiness than smoking."
"You're completely right," she said, "I'm glad I had this talk with you."
While I think she means well, I have seen too many ladies (and gentlemen) in her situation, and way too many decide that quitting simply isn't worth it. And I have to watch them die over the next few years. It's the sad truth of this job.
Yet it's our jobs to never quit urging them on.