Pardon me for my three-weeks’ absence. Explanation? Charon came for me but I jumped ship to be back among you, my living friends and associates, with a little less right lung. I thought that 37 years off cigarettes somehow protected me from smoking’s ravages. Wishful thinking. (That is yours truly, above, on writing assignment in Mexico City in 1972, flaunting my habit.)
The early morning of November 28 this year I awoke struggling to breathe. The 911 call was made. The ambulance came. Within a quarter-hour I was in Orange County Memorial’ s ER, where they drilled a hole in my chest and re-inflated my right lung.
Two days later I was sent home to mend. A day and a half after that lung collapsed again. ER again. The chest shaft was enlarged. Then off to the ICU for a two-day wait. Then to surgery where a golf ball-sized bleb was cut out of my upper right lung in a VATS procedure. Five days later I was sent home to recover, with my lung anchored in a way I don’t quite understand. That’s where I am now.
I subject you to these unpleasant details because I think a cautionary tale is in order. Though all you health-conscious Californians have long since quit smoking tobacco and have moved on to other, more fashionable addictions, I remind you that quitting way back when does not shield you from a vast array of dire consequences later. That includes cancers beyond that of the lung, namely bladder, blood, breast, cervical, esophageal, kidney, mouth and throat. Yes, tobacco is an all-purpose killer, contributing as well to human deaths from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, CAD, emphysema, COPD, pneumonia, stomach ulcers, Crohn’s disease, gangrene, impotence, infertility, among other of the thousand natural shocks our flesh is heir to.
Why do I preach so to the choir? Because I’ve already lost my father, younger brother and sister-in-law to this lethal weed, and some living friends and family members are still lighting up. I’m hoping they read this.
Done. Message completed. Now I can get back to chronicling “President Trump’s Terrible Trek to the Apocalypse,” while I work on my next book, The Discriminating Diner’s Guide to Hospital Food in Southern California.