Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fancy a smoke? Meet Tom.................

"A Cigarette ......what can a small cigarette do? Just try it once.How will you know how it feels like until you actually experience smoking once?" asked Jerry.
Tom took a look at the cigarette, it looked so tempting! Jerry had assured him that a puff or two would make him forget all the tensions from school. And girls liked guys who smoked! "But if it's so cool why did Mom warn me against it?" asked Tom .
By now Jerry was getting annoyed. He gave it a last shot, "Don't be such a baby! If it was so bad, all of us wouldn't have done it."
Tom thought , 'Big deal I try once and go home, Mom won't even know. And I am 13 now- a big boy! If I can go to school alone, I can do anything! Plus I dont want these bullies to laugh at me and call me a coward.'
So he held a cigarette in his hands. It had a fancy paper feel and was open from the other side . He could see some leaf like particles inside through the open end....

"Go ahead, try it" said Jerry. That was Tom's first cigarette.But not the last one..........

10 years later, Tom was smoking 2 packs a day! He was a healthy guy, except for the short lasting episodes of dry cough and a slight breathlessness. But who doesn't cough once or twice a day? He had a girlfriend, Lena - a wonderful girl. She loved him and liked him a lot except for his smoking. He didn't really understand why she kept bugging him about quitting. 'Why doesnt she understand that being a bussinessman is a stressful thing, I cant quit now.' - He thought .
Lena was a surgeon at the Princeton -Plainsborough University Hospital. She loved Tom. She had known him for quite some time now, and would have loved to settle down with him. But when he proposed last month, she said no . She wanted him to quit smoking, and was trying her level best . She had even registered him for rehab sessions in the university hospital -but he never went. She tried explaining to him what he was doing to himself and his body by smoking, how smoking would affect his future life.....but Tom never paid heed to her warnings. He always found reasons to puff on the cigarette.
What Tom didn't know was that a cigarette contains a lot of poisonous substances. A cigarette in Tom's hand actually contained all the toxic substances he encountered in his day-to-day life.

About seven years later, after Lena and Tom had settled down - they had a sweet little angel Michelle . The presence of Michelle made Lena forget her worries about Tom. Lena never succeded in making Tom quit. She talked to Micehlle and loved it when she started toddling . But Lena was always worried about Michelle, she didnt want her to be a passive smoker. It was bad enough that last month Tom's chest X-ray film had shown some emphysematous changes - his lungs had started giving up. She knew what it meant. Emphysema was irreversible. Tom's lungs had started lossing their normal structure. The air spaces had puffed up and were no more elastic. His lungs were not taking part in normal breathing - inflated like a baloon!
Just yesterday she had visited an autopsy at the hospitals Pathology department. When she inspected the body's lungs, she was horrified - Tom's lungs probably looked the same!

Meanwhile, Tom hadnt ceased smoking. He had been diagnosed with "Chronic Bronchitis" which belongs to the group of "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary diseases" ....the end result of which is lung failure. It wont be a long time before Tom would stop breathing on his own and need oxygenation. The amount of oxygen his lung provided his body was too less and decreasing progressively.

It was Michelles Graduation day! Lena was all happy, her baby angel was all grown up now!
She had succeded in keeping Mich away from the addictive smoking. Lena knew that addiciton may be a genetic problem. Tom smoked, so Mich might! But this time she had decided to fight it fiercely,'not my kid'.

Some months later, while walking to his car, Tom felt a very bad pain in his left leg. He had to stop walking and rest his left calf for a while before he could reach for the car door. "Well,I am getting old!" said Tom as he looked back at the distance that he hadwalked ....only 100 meters. After a minute or two he felt better and left for work.

About two weeks later, while walking from the bed to toilet, Tom hit his left toe. The injury was much severe that he had thought - he hadn't hit it that bad. The wound didnt heal and had ulcerated . Lena knew what was about to come up next.They performed a Dopplerography of Tom's leg blood vessels. Lena explained him that a doppler will show them if the blood supply to the legs is proper, and the walls of the arteries and veins are changed. Lena saw the results and tears trickled down her cheeks.

" If only you would have listened to me you stupid man! Your smoking has occluded the blood supply to your foot. The toe is not healing because you have Buerger's Disease. You came walking in here on you feet, but you will have to go home in a wheelchair! "

This week , they amputated Tom's left foot. They had decided to spare his foot and trim down only his left big toe, but soon they observed his 2nd toe had turned black - it was dead tissue. So they had to amputate the whole left foot because of the compromised blood supply. It was an irony that Lena was also on the surgical team for Toms foot amputation.
During the operation, when Lena saw the foot on a tray, she knew that this is just the beginning - sadly the disease will progressively compromise the blood supply and a number of amputations will follow. She had seen the life of patients after amputation and now it was her Tom in the same place.
When Tom regained consciousness after the surgery, he remembered Jerry and his first cigarette. If only this was a dream! He was really angry at himself. But he needed a cigarette to calm down. He needed a cigarette to fight the stressful situation his previous cigarettes had put him in! That moment Tom hated himself. He felt miserable. A small cigarette had succeded in making him a captive in his own life. A cigarette had made him a cripple.... both mentally and physically!


  1. wow mad!amazing job!very very proud of u!i think this is ur best work so far!
    if only ppl could realise wat a cigarette can do to them!its bad enuff yaar!
    well i really hope ppl like u and ur posts can bring a change in the society!

  2. That was a very sad indeed but a reality smokers can't escape from. If there is a way, and it is possible, I would urge you to publish this post in leading dailies so people are aware of what they are getting into.

    Just telling people to quit smoking never works. This just might.

    You were brilliant with this piece. Actually above brilliant. I am sure you have a LONG way to go as a doctor.

    I am so glad to know someone, who is doing her bit to change the world we live in, so as to make it a better place for those who come after us.

  3. Effective, I enjoyed reading that, and although quite graphic, the images just add to the piece. Thankfully I don't smoke and I definitely won't start now!

  4. @ Sweety: thanks sweets! We Doctors are the connecting bridge between people and health.
    Lets keep trying to save some more from ill health :0)

  5. @Stillness Speaks : thank you for the kind words. Your encouragement is much appreciated. :)
    If this post helps even one person, makes even one smoker quit, then I will have achieved my objective. And I guess I shall try and see what I can do about your suggestion. In fact, if you have any idea about it, all help is welcome. Thank you so much for the constant support and appreciation. :)

  6. @ Jamieollie124 : Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you liked the post. And I am more than happy you decided not to smoke in the future. :)

  7. Wow! That's one power packed post! Loved the concept and the illustrations. You drive the point straight home! Good work doc! Keep it coming. :)

  8. That was one heck of an impressive article...
    So many of friends are into this habit of smoking and all my attempts to discourage them have failed. I hope when I forward them the link to this article, some would give it a serious thought. Thanks for taking your time out to spread such awareness. I am sure you wud be a gr8 doctor...

  9. @AS:
    Thanks AS. It was spontaneous- the idea to put it down in a story format. :)

  10. @SJ: I would be glad if some of your friends stop smoking after reading this article. Thank you for the comments. :)

  11. beautiful have done justice to the topic...the pictures are perfect...all in all a good complete post...btw weekend is gone ;)

  12. This is really a touching story article....
    but the irony is that the people do not understand this truth till the destruction takes place.... this is a pity part....

    Anyways this is a very nice article...
    i appreciate your effort to make people understand the consequences of such a bad habit.

    Thanks once again...

  13. This is really a great piece. It teaches you a lesson even before experiencing it. It helped me to know things about the topic better. I will share it with all the people in my contact list.
    Thank you!

  14. It's a very well written article and informative too..

    However, I would just want to know for my personal knowledge if all the facts and figures that are provided in the blog are correct, I mean personally I know some people who have been smoking for around 40 years and *touch wood*, all's good.

    Further, I would be really obliged if you or any of your friends could share an insight on passive smoking and the effect that one may have and what should one do to prevent it?

    On an appretiative note, I really like the way the Article is written for the simple reason that a non-medical student like me have also understood the dieaseses that have been referred to by you. It is a very informative and an effective article for people who smoke and for those who do not smoke. You have very pertinently pointed out various stages of smoking with the repercessions. Well I completly agree with you on the whole "Non-Smoking" agenda and hope that people actually learn something from this Article like I did!

    Lastly, two questions, why haven't you made a reference to cancer that is very closely related to tobacoo consumption? Could you explain Burgers vis-a-vis smooking to me?

    p.s: pardon my spelling errors, I am horrible at it!

  15. Rakesh Anumalla: Thank you. The thing about any addiction is that the person becomes psychologically dependent on the substance of abuse. It clouds their conscience. The ability to take just decisions is affected.
    Sadly, this is the main hurdle when it comes to quitting.
    I am glad my attempt to bring forth smoking and its ill effects has been well received.

  16. @pdk: I am glad you liked it. The links I provided are also a good source of information written in a way non-medical people may understand. These will also be useful for your friends.Thank you. :)

  17. @ Neety Thakkar: I can say with full confidence that the facts and figures in this post are correct and untampered. The information is unbaised and not exaggerated. It is a very good thing that some people who you know and have been smoking for 40 years are in good health and I sincerely hope that it remains so. However, I stand by my post and every word written therein. Buergers disease is not a very common occurence but people do suffer from this malady and smoking has been found to be the main culprit. I would urge you to click on the links provided in the post for further information about Buergers and its relation with smoking.
    Passive smoking is almost as dangerous as active smoking, if not more so. You might find this link useful
    As far as tobacco smoke and lung cancer go, you are right in suggesting that the two are related, however I would like to point out that a cigarette has atleast 20 known carcinogens (substances that can give rise to cancers) and may cause different cancers in the body. Also, its a well known fact that smoking causes lung cancer, but people are not aware that smoking can cause such disabilities as described in the post.
    My intention of writing this post was to spread awareness about this issue and bring forth hitherto unknown facts about smoking and its effects.
    Thank you for taking the time out to read my post and comment. Hopefully, I have answered all your questions to your satisfaction. Feel free to ask anything else.I am also providing a few other links you might find interesting:
    Take care and keep visiting. :)

  18. It was great effort indeed.

    I wish I would be the health minister than I would have taken some corrective measures. But the realty I am not.

    I have never started or thought about smoking till 23. Personally, A cigarette is something which I have started 5 Years Back when i came to Pune for my masters.

    New Place, new friends and certain habits enforced or I got influenced. It was an unambiguous consensus existing amongst us that smoking is a style statement and we got trapped.

    And an advertising professor of mine age 85 used to smoke 30 in a day. According to him his late father used to live like that and died and he is also expecting the similar fate having a packet of cigg in his pocket and out there on the city streets on his bike and die like his Dad. He always told me the energy lies in the minds of the people, a habit has got nothing to do with it.

    I did'nt realise how fast it became the part of our lifestyle that the eyes won't open properly without having a couple of white sticks in the morning (much before my toothbrush). And then the day starts.

    As of now for me it is impossible to leave smoking hence no use of showing these terrifying pictures as I am very much aware about it. In case you need some more pics for your forthcoming blog I can help you out.

    For me smoking is a habit which I can't quit, because each and every where you need a cigarette. when you are alone, with your friends, when you are sad or depressed, when you are happy, along with the tea, after your breakfast or lunch or dinner etc. Numerous examples can be quoted for this.

    I feel it is easy to quit drinking but to quit smoking would be difficult job and I a mere thought to quit, it sucks big time. therefore I don't waste my energy in thinking.


  19. @ Saurabh: The mere fact that u accept you have a problem is a beginning in itself. I know its difficult but its doable. Its never too late to improve your life and take corrective measures to ensure it is healthy. I hope you decide to quit and i sincerely pray that you find the strength to follow through with your decision. Take care.

  20. This is really good stuff to get rid from the harm of tobacco to at least a certain extent and will work among those who are trying to get a substitute to reduce the harm and satisfy smoking temptation!!


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