Just Butt Out

I picked a fight with a young couple at the hospital today. I got off the bus and crossed the street, and walked through the cloud of cigarette smoke at the makeshift ‘smoke pit’—the area deemed far enough away to be off hospital grounds; the area where sidewalk meets walkway, beside the bus stop about a hundred feet from the hospital entrance. I walked up the walkway toward the entrance and not fifteen feet from the door, sitting directly beside a “No Smoking” sign, a pregnant gal in her wheelchair and her boyfriend were about to light up.

I looked at them both incredulously, and I pointed to the sign that all three of us could clearly see. “You’re not allowed to smoke on hospital grounds,” I told them. She told me to shut up.

“Seriously. There’s a smoking area not a hundred feet straight down this walkway. You’re in a wheelchair for crying out loud. Get him to push you.” She told me she had a right to smoke.

“Ignoring the fact that you’re pregnant and hospitalized, I’m not telling you not to smoke. I’m just telling you you can’t smoke here.” She told me she didn’t care. I told her that my four-month old daughter was inside those walls fighting cystic lung disease and that I had a right to not be exposed to the toxins and chemicals in her cigarettes. I called her a selfish bitch as I walked away in search of a security guard, and I heard her tell me to go f**k myself.

The irony is not lost on me that six months before getting pregnant, I quit my pack-a-day habit so that I could give my child the best chance possible, yet here we are fighting severe lung disease. In the four months we’ve been in the NICU, and in the month of antepartum care leading up to her delivery, I’ve been astounded more times than I can count at the image of a visibly pregnant woman, standing in the rain by the bus stop, puffing away on her cancer stick. It breaks my heart to think that I did everything right, and here she is, throwing it all away. It feels a bit like a slap in the face.

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago, seeing one of Nyana’s nurses out there at the bus stop, puffing away in her scrubs. I’m still baffled that our medical team is telling us that once she’s healthy and ready to come home, we need to keep her away from smokers, yet in the meantime, they’re allowing her to be handled by someone who just came back from their smoke break. A few days ago we modified Nyana’s whiteboard to include a list of dislikes as well as her likes. On this newly added list of things Nyana doesn’t like are dirty diapers, being ignored, and nurses who smoke.

I was a late bloomer—I was nearly 20 when I bought my first pack of smokes. If you’re old enough to buy them yourself, you’re old enough to know better. But I was the child of two smokers and it was inevitable, I suppose. Though, if I had known back then that ten years later, I’d spend hundreds of hours by my daughter’s bedside, praying for healthy lungs, I never would have taken my first puff.

I’m really not one to tell people how to behave or how to act. But knowing how easy it is to quit smoking, and knowing how hard it is to fight chronic lung disease—keep in mind that the BPD Nyana is fighting is not that far from COPD (emphysema) that many adults who have been heavy smokers are fighting—I think I am entitled to stand on my soapbox for just a moment longer to ask Nyana’s army to declare themselves 100% smoke-free.

I never thought that I would be one of those annoying ex-smokers, the ones who walk around all proud, like, I did it. Why can’t you? But that is me, and I do walk around like that, ’cause quitting really isn’t hard. If you want it, and you believe it will be easy, it’s easy. Just never smoke another one again. Let Allan Carr help you out.

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About Mrs. B

Wife, mother, marketer--not always in that order. Lover of fine food, good company, and exceptional grammar. Mother of one former micro-preemie and one full-term monster baby. Building childhood memories in Vancouver's suburbs.
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13 Responses to Just Butt Out

  1. tara says:

    I had smoked for 15 yrs and can proudly jump on your soapbox as a non smoker now. It took me 15 years to realize that it was killing me and my kids.
    Can you request non smoking nurses? Is that something the hospital will honor?

  2. Stacey and Lucy says:

    I love you Karen!!

  3. Lynn Duncan says:

    It always blows my mind when I pick up a cancer patient and can smell smoke on them! That is very very rare, but still, my car is, and has been for 19 years, a no smoking car and I’m driving people with compromised immune systems.

    Karen, I’ve noticed that some people just get stubborn when confronted, but.. at some point it may sink in. So confront away, especially when they are sitting right under that sign. I think it is hard for some to stop, but they shouldn’t subject others to the poisons.

    And I sure hope you can reject smokey nurses .. they shouldn’t be around those little ones, or really, around most patients.

    Anyway, it is the beginning of a new week, and end of an old month and hope this will be a great week AND month for Nyana.

  4. Lynn Duncan says:

    Hmm.. I tried to post and it claimed I was making a duplicate post.. not so.

    I’m sure it was a great post, too 😉

    Anyway, I agreed about smoky nurses being banned from nicus and really from hospitals in general.

    Not sure it is easy for some to quit but it is easy for them to smoke AWAY from a no smoking area. They may not hear you but you may just be the one to break through as well. So, vent away!

    Here we are with a new week at the end of an old month.. hoping week AND month are great ones for Nyana.

  5. Lynn Duncan says:

    Arrrrgh! Now it has old post AND new post!

  6. Tasha says:

    This really disgusts me. How unfair that you did everything right and there are others who flaunt what they’re doing wrong. Nyana’s army in Lethbridge is proudly smoke free.

  7. Crystal says:

    I have been reading since the beginning, and have never posted (most of the time I give my comments to Don at work)…until now! I quit just over a year ago now. I had a pack a day habit for 18 years, and guess what? It WAS easy! If I had known how easy, I would have done it years ago!

    Now that I have tooted my own horn, I must say how absolutely disgusted I was when I learned of the smoking NICU nurse…and am even more disgusted reading about this pregnant woman who is filling her and her child’s lungs with smoke. It if fine if you want to slowly kill yourself by smoking, that is your choice. However, that baby has no choice, and it’s not right or fair.

    I WILL join you on that soapbox, and my entire smoke-free family will be there, too!

  8. Angela says:

    I have a girlfriend that smoked through two pregnancies, granted it was reduced frequency, but she still smoked 1-2 cigarettes a day (that she admitted to me). Both of her children have been on antibiotics more times than she can count for respiratory and ear infections…..she doesn’t understand why.

    We are currently living at my inlaws and my father in law smokes in his garage. The garage is attached to the house and you enter through the kitchen. there is no ventilation from the garage except into the kitchen and my mother in law does not understand why I am so anal about keeping the garage door closed tight! the number of times that I have walked out of my kids rooms, at the complete opposite end of the house and on a different level, and smelled smoke immediately is incredible. I can walk downstairs and know that the garage door was not closed tightly. They think I am crazy, but I went out and bought a $1000 carbon filter smoke eater meant for office smoking rooms for him to put in his garage. he sits directly in front of it when he smokes but it doesn’t catch everything. I cringe every time he touches my 10 month olds face. Its terrible that I should cringe at my son being touched by his grandfather!
    I can’t wait to have my own house back when I can tell him that he can’t smoke on my property.!!!

  9. Shannon says:

    I was never a smoker beyond bumming one off a friend in high school but husband smoked a pack a day for 10 years – he quit just before we met – and we don’t let smoke anywhere near our baby boy. My husband is even more vigilant about it than I am! Our new neighbour was out smoking on his deck and it was wafting right to our living room window and my husband had a big talk with him and the kid now goes off his deck to the sidewalk to smoke. Sure he pays his rent – but so do we – and smoke was not in our contract!

  10. I’m smoke free her in Powell River! Unfortunately my parents, grandparents, aunts uncles and cousins aren’t… or my HUSBAND. !!!
    (he quit 4 weeks before H was born, and too it back up the day I went into labour – he’s in the process of becoming smoke free again though, thank goodness)

  11. agilemom says:

    I, too, grew up in a household with a parent who smoked – my dad smoked 3 pack/day for years. My brother and I took up smoking in high school – we figured our lungs were already black, why not enjoy it? Such an example my dad was setting for us!

    I ended up smoking for 10 years, and I was very good at quitting. I did it at least once a year! Ten months after the last time I quit, I started dating my non-smoking husband and never started again. Since then, my brother and even my father (!!) also quit. I am like you – angry and offended by smokers – it is NOT that hard to quit! If my DAD can do it, anyone can!

    Proud to be part of Nyana’s non-smoking army…

  12. Diana says:

    Yup, my Mom smoked throughout my childhood. In her 40’s, while I was still in high school, she came down with lung cancer and given 6 months to live. She fought like hell and survived (she’s 67 now). She gets up on her soapbox about smoking and has earned the right. And I feel anyone who has kicked the habit also has that right because, well, they’ve likely saved their own life and perhaps that of a loved one.

  13. Olivia ♡ says:

    My mom smoked as a teenager, and continued for over 10 years, until she quit while she was pregnant with me.

    When I was 7 she got the bowling alley where we were in a kid’s league to declare their building smoke-free.

    I’ve had the occasional cigarette, but I haven’t had one touch my mouth since December 2009. I couldn’t even be around smokers while I was pregnant!

    Caleb and I are both smoke-free! 🙂

    It drives me a little batty to see preggos smoke….but I can at least appreciate those that cut down their intake.

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