CDC: Tips From Former Smokers – Brian: Part of Who I Was
January 2, 2020
(Brian)By the time I was
ten or eleven I was smoking probably close
to a pack a day. Smoking had been
ingrained into me. It was part of who
I was it seemed like. It was, that was, smoking was, a
cigarette was… that was Brian…
that was me. I hadn’t really thought much
about joining the military at a young age,
but I loved it. I enlisted in November of 1972. Within a year after I got into
the military, I met my future wife. We were very young an
we wanted to see the world. We traveled all over Europe. We saw things and we were able
to experience stuff that we, most people wouldn’t have had
the opportunity to do. I was stationed in Germany until I had my heart attack
when I was 35. So I went from being able to travel the world
and see the world, to confining my life either at
home or going to doctors. That’s all because of
cigarettes. Well, I had the heart attack. I had the first defibrillator, where they had to cut my chest
open and put the patches on. Then I had a bypass operation. Then my lungs started going bad.
Then I had to be on oxygen. Then I had stents put in. Then I had stents
in stents put in. I was in the hospital
for months. I spent days in emergency rooms.
Hundreds of IVs. My poor wife having to sit down
in the emergency rooms for hours, upon hours,
upon hours. My kids getting called up,
“Dad’s in the hospital again. He might die,
you got to come down.” [Sigh] It was,
yeah, it was a lot. Every doctor along
the way said, “knock it off, stop smoking,
you have to stop smoking”. Even to the time when
I had my first run for the heart transplant. I had smoked.
I don’t know why I did it. And then the day
I went to the doctor’s, they, they always
draw your blood. And, they gave me
the pager. They said, “Okay you’re
on the transplant list.” That’s the key to the
hope for the future. You get the pager, and okay, now I am going to get a new
heart and will be able to live. And that evening the
doctor called up and said, “Brian, we found
nicotine in your blood. And you need to
come back tomorrow and give me back
the pager. I’m not listed
anymore. That was crushing for me,
for my wife, for my kids. It was hard.
And I screwed up. I screwed up bad.
And… I just screwed up bad.