Smoking Kills ?

4 am. It’s been twenty hours into my first emergency duty. Four more  and I would get the day off.

The last hour had been cool, and just as my eyelids were starting to droop, in came that dreaded sound of the collapsible gate being swung open. I jumped on my foot, another case. Another life threatening emergency.

It was a 50 something man, frail in outline, gasping for breath, accompanied on the stretcher, by what looked like his son. The son was hardly fifteen, and looked pretty scared.

God. Not another myocardial infarction. I had just sent the last one to the ICU.

However on a rapid examination, it looked like a case of acute exacerbation of asthma. Which meant Oxygen, nebulization and some intravenous injections, and the man was almost back to normal.

And the first sentence the guy said was, “Can I smoke ?”

“Are you kidding me ?

You almost died here. That will kill you. You need to stop immediately. If not for you, then for your son. You go on smoking like this, and one day there won’t be time enough for him to bring you to the hospital. “

He gave me those, “Go to hell. As if i care” looks.

You cannot hammer sense into these people. I  prescribed him some inhalers, asked him to report to the emergency as and when required and let him go.

I met him a few more times in the ER. Same story. I knew he wouldn’t learn.


Fast forward. 10 years have passed. I was out giving rounds in the ward. It was ten in the night, and I could hope to retire by another hour.
But something always turns up. Specially when you have the wife waiting for you impatiently at home.

In came the stretcher. Quite a young patient. Most of them presented with road traffic accidents and I was immediately on the lookout for signs of massive bleeding. Couldn’t find any though.

He was just breathing laboriously. His pulse was feeble. Blood pressure was way below normal. His history revealed episodes of bloody expectoration.

In came his father. Faint signs of recognition. Yes. The man I started out with on my first night.

I ordered a chest x ray. It revealed something which i was afraid of. Next morning I ordered a CT scan.

It came out with what I was dreading. Of course it can only be confirmed by biopsy but there are instances when you just know.

Probable adeno CA of the lungs. Medical jargon for a life expectancy of a year.

“Doc. You told me smoking would kill me. I didn’t listen to you, but here I am.standing on my legs,
And my son- who hasn’t smoked a puff ever in his life, is struggling for his ?”

It was time to admit my mistake.

“ I told you smoking kills. But what I forgot to tell you was, passive smoking also kills. It is in fact statistically more lethal. ”

(Inspired by real life events)

This post has been written for the #WorldNoTobaccoDay initiative by Kolkata Bloggers and MANT. 

(Archya, in his own words, is the trying-to-be-global bangali babu, who is attempting to carve out a niche for himself in blogosphere, having had mixed results in Medicine Practice. In short, a struggling artist.
For his other articles on Blong…Shong, Click Here)


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