Friday, March 05, 2010

Public Smoking

There's something luxurious about having a girl light your cigarette. In fact, I got married once on account of that. ~Harold Robbins [true for me, only it was a man who lit my cigarette]

There's a lot of people who, a cigarette is about the only vacation they have. ~Trey Parker, mini-commentary on DVD South Park episode "Butt Out"

I used to smoke two packs a day and I just hate being a nonsmoker.... but I will never consider myself a nonsmoker because I always find smokers the most interesting people at the table. ~Michelle Pfeiffer

Ah, smoking! How I love it! As in the last quote, I don't particularly like identifying myself as a non-smoker or a former-smoker. It's like saying you are celibate just because you can't find anyone to have sex with you. And, like the author of the first quote, I fell in love with sexy french inhale as much as I did a man. Also, I'm not a fan of smoking bans for restaurants and especially not for bars. It just doesn't seem natural to not be able to smoke when you are drinking in public.


I'm quickly discovering that not being able to breath sucks ass. Now I've always had what I called a slight case of "exercise-induced" asthma, though that probably wasn't really asthma. It was just that I was overweight and out of shape, so, when I'd physically exert myself, I'd have trouble breathing and my lungs burned. Asthma sounded better than fat and out of shape though.

But I did begin having real problems over this past summer. I continued to cough and wheeze after a particularly difficult to cure case of strep throat, during which I also had issues keeping down my medications. Now, my throat, esophagus, and perhaps even my lungs have some level of damage from years of acid reflux and the vomitting that came along with painful gall stones and gall bladder issues several years ago. When I couldn't get the coughing and wheezing to stop and I had several severe incidents of shortness of breath, I finally went to a doctor. After seeing a general practitioner and then a team of pulmonologists, it was concluded that I had adult-onset asthma. They weren't really sure what caused it and finding out would be even more expensive and wouldn't assist in my treatment, so no further testing was done. The doctor conceded that my weight and acid reflux might be contributing factors, but they weren't the only thing causing my current condition. I now use Symbicort twice daily, though I'm about at the end of my samples and I can't afford the $200 a month that it costs. I also have Abuterol rescue inhalers that I inherited from my grandmother.


I am sharing all this because I wanted to help you, those who know me and hang out with me, why it is important to me to know beforehand if a place we are planning on going allows smoking. The times that I have brought this issue up, I felt like I was dismissed for being worried about it when everyone knows that no place allows smoking anymore, which obviously isn't true as several places our group has gone to in the past several months have allowed smoking. Some townships and areas of the metro still allow smoking in restaurants and bars, though it is often difficult to know where those city lines are drawn and who allows what. But it is important to me to be able to decide for myself if I want to be in that environment and to plan ahead by not being anyone's driver and making sure I have my abuterol. (Yes, I know I should ALWAY have a rescue inhaler, but I don't always like dragging around a purse full of everything I might possibly need.) And finding out only after I've arrived, especially when I either rode with someone or drove someone to the location, makes me feel obligated to stay in a situation in which I'm uncomfortable, which leads to me feeling annoyed, bitchy, and anti-social.

I would also like to point out that all people with a certain illness are not the same in how they experience and deal with that. Just because somebody else in our group might also have asthma and does not seem to be bothered by smoke doesn't mean that my own requests should be dismissed. While not a perfect metaphor, some recoving alcoholics can be in places where liquor is served while other recovering alcoholics could not handle the temptation or the environment. Either way, one would hope that their friends would not be dismissive of any requests they made so that they could take responsibility for their own health.

I don't want to make this into a "this person did or didn't do this" and I know that I didn't mention this to all of you. I wrote this because I obviously wasn't clear enough in what I was hoping for when I did mention it to the people I did so I thought I'd attempt to explain why and be clear to everyone. So I would ask anyone who plans an outing to find out if a place allows smoking and to let everyone know, especially me. If you are uncertain, especially if a place is in Shawnee, Merriam, or North Kansas City (the places that I think might all still allow smoking), call and ask. Thank you. Once again, I have no problem with smoking, smokers, or smoking in public places. I am also not asking for anyone else not to go or for events not to be planned at places where there is smoking. I just know that I'd appreciate a heads up so that I can make that decision for myself, and I"m sure there are others who would to.

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