My Visit to the Lung Doctor

My Visit to the Lung Doctor

GrumpyOMrsS (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

17 Oct 2001, 12:13 #1

so many of us have smoked for so long that we do not remember living our lives without a cigarette in our hands or mouths. we continue smoking even though we know all the warnings and it is not until we finally quit, that we first take a very serious look at our addiction and then we start thinking ..."what oh what have I done to myself?" and we hope for the best but fear the worst. Below is a post I wrote after my first visit to my pulmonary specialist. Sitting in that office that day, was a terribly frightening thing. It was, after all, my addiction that took me there.....

Today was a big day for me...a day of reckoning with a 41 year old addiction. When I quit smoking the beginning of January, I remember the posts from others quitting with me....oh how much easier breathing was since they had quit...running farther, jumping higher and no straining for air anymore. Read about it here everyday why then was it more difficult for me to breathe...why was I different? Well in the spring of '99 I had a terrrible case of the flu and with every breath I took it felt like my lungs were on fire..every cough was like someone was sticking a knife in me. I have never experienced anything like that feeling before...of course, I kept on smoking. Finally decided to go to the doctors' when I started to run a fever and she had a chest xray done to see if I had bronchitis or pneumonia. None of the above, she said, but look here...and she pointed to an area on the've got the beginnings of emphysema....that' s all she said...nothing else...and still I smoked and kept on doing so for another 8 months. Now I've quit and I'm having trouble breathing and I run back to the doctor and ask her to please do another x-ray...I've quit smoking and I want to know why I'm short of breath and it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest, more and more. Good news...the xray shows no change from the first one....still shows a little irritation but now she's not calling it emphysema, nor cancer, but some irritation. She thinks that I should see a specialist. Again I put it off because some days I feel fine and then all of a sudden the pressure is there. I found this pressure and feeling that I cannot breathe appears when exposed to chemicals such as colognes, perfumes, cleaning products, hair sprays, shampoos, money, and of course, cigarettes and stale tobacco smells.....more and more smells making it more difficult to breathe. The doc gives me an inhaler...sometimes it works, other times, nothing.

Well, today was my appointment. The sign on the door says Acute Care Pulmonary Specialists and I am scared. In the waiting room are people in wheelchairs with tubes in their noses and the other end attached to large oxygen tanks next to them. Each time the door opens, another wheelchair, another oxygen tank. I fill out the questionaires and then give my xrays to the nurse. She ushers me into an examining room and I start reading the little booklets about inhalers and emphysema and how to quit smoking and I see charts of smokers life expectencies, and for me, a 41 year smoker...quitting at 57, what the charts have in store for me...maybe I read it wong...maybe not.

Finally the doctor comes in and introduces himself...shakes my hand. He's a lot younger than I thought. Very serious looking...very intense. Now comes the inquisition...he sits back, crosses his leg, takes out a clipboard and starts asking questions.
First he asked me all the "do you" questions and then the "have you" questions, not to leave out the "how long" questions....very, very serious young man...but I heard he was a great specialist, a man of few words and a "say it like it is" person. I am not looking for a Dr. Kildare or Dr.Welby.. I think many of you are too young to know these kindhearted TV docs...but I'm sure some of the older people here will remember....I wanted someone who says is like it is..I wanted someone to scare the heck out of me so that I would never dare to smoke again...He finished asking and then he left the room for a minute. When he returned, said he was going to listen to my lungs, said I had my gown on backwards....who cares?

He made me take all kinds of breaths..over and over while he listened with the stethescope....All Clear! wheezing...same as I heard from all the docs I've seen since i quit. Am I making this up?
He told me that he wanted to do a pulmonary function test and a very nice older woman...(a smoker..little lines around the mouth and stale cigarettes smell) took me to a room with monitor and lots of big chemical tanks..hydrogen, oxygen..and I don't know what else....and stuck me in front of a mouth piece with tubes and wires coming out in all directions and they in turn were attached to a huge machine and monitor....made me stick a clip on my nose to shut off air supply and stick the tube in my mouth...had to breathe regularly for about a minute and then she made me take one big breath and then exhale very rapidly and keep on exhaling into the pipe as long as I could....did it 3 better with each attempt...watched the lines on the monitor trace my breath. Wondering how I'm doing.

Then she hooked me up to a Nebulizer...a breathing treatment machine....chemicals going into my lungs for 5 minutes....more tanks and tubes...again, frightening when I think that many ex smokers have to use these each and every day....more than once a I going to have to do this, just like the picture of the young lady at me even more scared. If I have emphysema I will have to have one of these things in my house, I'm thinking, as I sit there staring a magazine and watching the vapors come out of the mouthpiece every time I exhale. After the treatment she made me put the clip on my nose again and repeat the test.....I did better, she said. Now to talk to the doc again and find out the verdict.

Well, he says...lungs are wheezing...pulmonary function the criteria for normal breathing capacity....elephant on the chest? very real. He says that I have asthma....plain and simple...asthma. The problem with smells, all chemicals, colognes, perfumes, cleaning agents (yippee, no cleaning!) money, cigarettes and stale tobacco..cold air, humid air.....all asthma triggers...not allergy. Allergies are dust, pollen, cat and dog hairs, food...all different than asthma triggers. Wants me to see an allergist more doc...who cares? I've got asthma...uncomfortable, but treatable.

He has prescribed two more inhalers in addition to the one I already have...the two new ones are to be used every 12 hours...the Provental is carried with me at all times to be used as needed... I am lucky...very lucky! With my history of smoking, the verdict could have been much worse....still could be...but for now, I am frightened enough never to take another puff...I know what if feels like to have an elephant on my chest....cannot and do not want to imagine what it would be like with emphysema or cancer. My heart goes out to those suffers...You should have seen the older people in the waiting room with their wheelchairs and guess is that they too, are all ex smokers.....

Us smokers just have to get really, really scared before it sinks in...and sometimes very sick before we do anything about it. I have been given another chance to breathe deep and breathe long. A lot of us, never get that chance and so I say to all you younger quitters out there....please stick to your quits and treat each smoke free day not as if you have lost your best friend, but as a blessing, a gift. Some days may be harder than others but in the end it all evens out. I hope that none of you will ever have to go to an Acute Care Pulmonary office and if you do, I hope you're as lucky as me.

Wishing each and every one of you a long, happy, and healthy, smoke free life!

written 6/20/00
Linda Image

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

17 Oct 2001, 12:37 #2

Thanks for sharing this past post with us Linda. I'm so sorry that you had to go through this scare but Tom and the rest of us can learn from your experience. I had no idea that cigarettes had chemicals in them that actually functioned to open the airways so more nicotine could enter the lungs! Good grief. I've learned so much here .... thank you Linda for caring so much.

12 weeks .... closing in on Bronze!

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:12

17 Oct 2001, 16:04 #3

Hi Linda, Can't imagine how stressful your day was, but even reading your post I had to skip to the end to find out what happened before reading the whole thing fully! Hopefully with the new inhalers being used regularly the asthma will settle down, and then you just have to avoid cleaning chemicals:-) and never take another puff!

All the best, and thanks for letting us all know about your appointment. Having read many of your posts, with all your support and inspiration for the rest of us, and with me only having been here for a couple of weeks, I'm surprised how personally I took your news. Not sure what I'm trying to say really?!

Big hugs..... Stephen

nkontheblock ( gold )
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:08

17 Oct 2001, 18:33 #4

Thanks Linda
In my teens I thought no way it will be me!Image
In my twenties I thought it won't be me!Image
In my thirties I thought it won't be me!Image
In my forties I think it might be me but not yet! Image
In my fifties I don't want to say Oh no! not me!Image
I guess I'll never have a single puff again. Image
nk Day 46

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

08 Nov 2001, 02:54 #5

Hello GrumpyOMrsS,

Thanks for sharing the wonderful story with us. It is funny, I was thinking the same thing when I quit. I'm a lot more healthier than I ever was when I started smoking and I too was wondering how my lungs are doing. I was told people do not have any feeling in their lungs so when they find the slightest discomfort, it might be too late. I am 22 years old and have retired from smoking almost 6 months ago. I'm sure you remember me from earlier postsImage. I only smoked for 7 years but I was a serious chain smoker. I can remember being in the car to drive 30 miles every week and putting down 5 cigs on the way and that was only the car ride. I think it would be nice to go have a checkup to see how I'm doing and I might do that sometime.

I just wanted to send you a little note saying thanks for the article. Hopefully young people like me can listen to what you have to say before they experience it like I did. I believe quitting smoking is a blessing but I also know it is a fine combination of hard work and self determinationImage

I have not smoked for Five months, three weeks, two days, 14 hours, 52 minutes and 4 seconds. 3532 cigarettes not smoked, saving $618.17. Life saved: 1 week, 5 days, 6 hours, 20 minutes.

GrumpyOMrsS (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

08 Nov 2001, 05:06 #6

Hi Ryan,

Of course I remember you and I cannot tell you enough just how wonderful it is that you quit when you did and how much I admire you and any young person who has the courage and strength to call it quits before it's too late. We never know what is "too late". It could come years from now or it could be hours from now. It could be the very next puff. I have a customer who had a heart attack at the age of 29 from smoking who quit, and I have others who are on oxygen and dying from emphysema or smoking related cancers, that are still smoking. Those still smoking are complete slaves to a substance that has essentially claimed their lives. They go to the pharmacy for their medicines to help them breathe and then stop at the front checkout for, not just pack of cigarettes, but cartons of cigarettes. Sorta sad and ironic, isn't it?

I think that the very young are to be commended for quitting, but I also think that those of us that smoked for decades deserve accolades for realizing that it's never to late to quit. And of course, there are all those in between, who comprise the majority of members here, that deserve just as much recognition for quitting and should feel the same pride for giving themselves the gift of life. I sure do wish that I had your determination and did this many years ago.

Best wishes to you, Ryan, for a long, happy, healthy, smokefree life and may that life be filled with peace and love and lots of special people.
hugs, Linda

childofnite GOLD.ffn
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

08 Nov 2001, 05:52 #7

I'm so happy you don't have anything worse than athsma, Grumpy. I am SOOOO relieved to hear that. You worried me there for a moment. *phew*

In response to your message to Ryan: I understand what you mean. As a 27 year old, I can chastise myself about smoking for 14 years, but I'd rather pat myself on the back for quitting now. My 62 year old mom has emphysema. Even with printouts from Freedom, still she smokes. Even knowing I have quit successfully for nearly 3 1/2 months, still she smokes. She also makes comments like: If I could buy a case of cigs I would, I hate going to the store! It's sickening, and it makes me angry that she refuses to listen. I just got engaged a few months ago, and would like her to be around to see her grandchildren.... apparently cigs are more important than that.

Thankfully, I was lucky. I quit. I'm prouder of this accomplishment than receiving my diploma for Accounting nearly 2 years ago. And I believe that regardless of age, one can succcessfully quit. It's never too late, unless you believe it is.

Yqs, Diana
I have been FREE for 3 Months 1 Week 6 Days

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

08 Nov 2001, 21:27 #8

Hi Diana,

Just a quick note, I too AM in your shoes. I thought quitting smoking was more of an accomplishment then getting my BA in CS. It just goes to show all the newbies how much they will appreciate it once they quit. Not discouraging people to quit, but you don't know how much of a struggle it is until you quit. Afterwards, look on the bright side. The rewards are endless.
Thanks for sharing your story Diana and congrats on your engagement!!

I have not smoked for Five months, three weeks, three days, 9 hours, 24 minutes and 45 seconds. 3547 cigarettes not smoked, saving $620.87. Life saved: 1 week, 5 days, 7 hours, 35 minutes.

Germaine GOLD
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:34

12 Nov 2001, 02:03 #9

Wow Linda, can I ever Identify with your email I was thinking of printing it and showing my docter so she doesn't think I am really losing my mind.

It will be three months for me on Tuesday 13th Nov and what a ride it has been .
The quitting was one thing and the health issues are another.
I have had a chest infection and I now have Pneumonia. I have never been this ill.
All I can say and think is: THANK GOD I don't smoke anymore.
What have I done to myself? , what if this is a result of perminant damage of years of smoking, am weakened and those Xrays I have had two this year and I panic each time .
My whole outlook on smoking has changed from say four months ago. For all those newbies stick with it it is worth it and you will down the road ask your self, What was I thinking? What was I doing to my poor body ? I must have been nuts and I paid to do it!!. I am slowly getting my health back and I plan to hang on to it for dear life . Thank you Freedom and Thank you self. Take Care All Germaine Image

Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

13 Nov 2001, 12:04 #10


I remember your visit to the lung doctor. It was so scary. Afterall, I had smoked for 35 years myself and had just quit. I could esily have been writing that message instead of you.

I had to stop and reply to the "young" quitters here. It is so easy to justify you smoking addiction when you are young and not feeling any of the effects. That truly is the irony of it. You can go for years believing you are getting away with it. But that time does run out eventually for everyone. In some way, no one smokes forever and gets away with it. No one.

It took me till I was 45 to realize that. I am so happy for the people here who woke up so many years sooner. They have taken back their lives.

Recently I entered a bar and saw the healthiest, most beautiful young people giving away free Winstons. They all told me they smoked. I told them I wished that their employers would hire some of my friends to give away their product. 40 year smokers who have no throats and can only speak with a mike, who lost all their teeth during radiation treatments. Or those that can't speak because they don't have the lung power left and can't do anything without being attached to a tank of oxygen. Are my friends who died from lung cancer the lucky ones? Their suffering was short-lived.

As long as we have nicotine in our systems we do not make rational choices. We continue to feed our addiction and ignore the fact that we are killing ourselves. We are addicts. But as long as we never take another puff we can remain free.

Thank you Linda for continuing to care and share, along with all my Freedom family. Together we have given ourselves a wonderful gift!

Big hugs, Joy

One year, five months, one week, two days, 2 hours, 2 minutes and 9 seconds. 10541 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,686.80. Life saved: 5 weeks, 1 day, 14 hours, 25 minutes.