UK SMOKING BAN
I’m an ICU nurse who regularly suctions the intubated airways of former (and current) smokers.
But there’s this concept in medical ethics called autonomy.
Often, we see patients who have “done it to themselves”. People too obese to breathe properly. People with endocarditis from IV drug use. People with diabetic ketoacidosis - because checking one’s blood sugar is just so damned inconvenient. And yes, people with lung transplants, cancer, or COPD from smoking.
We get them better, they leave, and two months later they are back. We think of the financial burden they place on the system. We think of the patients in the ER who are waiting for an open bed. We get frustrated.
But we are not charged with parenting away the vices of mankind. And we are certainly not charged with curtailing freedoms.
If you want to solve a problem, look for an answer that works - not one that makes you feel good, or one that makes theoretical sense but has been shown to be unrealistic.
I once saw a chest tube placed for a patient with a massive pyothorax (that’s pus trapped in the space between the lung and the chest wall).
Immediately upon insertion, 1 liter of fluid drained. It looked a bit like cloudy minestrone and it smelled like death.
Paternalism is uglier than that.
I’m tired of this idea floating around that everyone should be self-contained and self-reliant and that needing validation or help from others is inherently wrong.
You know what? I’m a fucking lunatic. If you leave me to my own devices my psyche collapses into an egotistical, self-indulgent pile…
My patient is intubated and sedated and is therefore my favorite person on the whole unit right now.
Just leave me the fuck alone. Please. I can’t be funny tonight and small talk is making me want to die.
Currently crying over a sock, a cup, and an ashtray full of cigarette butts from September.
I am the most sentimental fuck on the planet.