My beloved grandmother (aka Mom Mom) died of a heart attack when I was seven years old. I adored her. Loved her with all my heart. She was an incredible woman. One full of strength, love and unwavering support. But for all her tremendous attributes there’s only one that creates disappoint within me; she was a smoker.
It was the mid-80s, so smoking was still accepted most places, but when she died I lashed onto something to blame. And smoking became my nemesis. Even during a health presentation in elementary school I railed against it. Even if smoking didn’t cause her heart attack, it most certainly didn’t help the situation. And so, I vowed never to take up such a deadly habit.
But my Mom Mom was not the only reason I stayed away from the hideous addictive habit. As a congenital heart patient my parents made certain to convey how dangerous cigarettes could be for me. They’re deadly enough to a healthy individual but for a heart patient…there was no way I was going to risk my heart. It had been through enough!
So, for 34 years now I’ve kept my promise. Never, not once, have I smoked a cigarette (or any other kind of illegal substance). However proud I am of my achievement, that doesn’t mean my heart’s still not in danger due to cigarettes. While I’ve taken due diligence to keep my heart and lungs free from smoke, it doesn’t mean others are as concerned as I am.
Secondhand smoke sickens me—literally and figuratively. I can’t breathe. I gag. I start to cough. It’s bad enough as a singer but as a heart patient…it’s ridiculous that my wellbeing is in jeopardy because of someone else’s poor choice. I did my utmost to stay as far away from cigarette smoke as possible. I stayed out of smoking sections (when they were still in use), stood as far away from individuals who were smoking when in a public place and scolded friends and family when they tried to light up in my presence.
One of my fellow bloggers wrote an earlier piece about the idea she used her CHD as an excuse. It was an incredibly interesting blog post, one I suggest for your reading enjoyment. I’ve been thinking about that idea as I write this entry. Did I use my CHD as an excuse not to smoke? I like to think it isn’t so much an excuse as it is a REASON. And a good one, if I do say so myself!
Thankfully, times have changed. I can enter public places without worrying about encountering cigarette smoke. But the danger’s still real as long as those who choose to smoke continue doing so in the presence of others.
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