Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, but I didn’t realize just how bad it is. I knew that your chances of getting cancer rise when you smoke although not everyone who smokes gets cancer. If cancer were the only bad result, you would just be taking a gamble, like climbing Mt. Everest. Or even driving a car. I have learned, however, that there are many other results of smoking. The doctor told Bill that because of his smoking his condition is that of a man ten years older. There are so many things wrong with him that I am overwhelmed. For example, his ability to metabolize food is affected. And heart rhythm. And circulation. The only good thing that can be said of his smoking is that he was pretty old when his bad habit of 60 years caught up with him.
The young, pretty, female, heart resident leaned over Bill and asked him if he wanted his heart to be started again if it stopped. “This is something I have to ask you.” He might die, I thought. And then I thought, He is going to die. Now. Tonight.
Our youngest son was standing there too. I haven’t asked him what he thought. I only know that when our neighbor phoned him to tell him Bill had had a stroke, he left his house for the hour and a half drive without his wallet and in his crocs (in the middle of a New Brunswick winter.)
Now we are waiting. Bill can’t have anesthesia for at least another two weeks. We have had a month of harshly cold temperatures with bitter winds. We haven’t had such weather for several years. I can’t remember where I put our down-filled coats. He can’t have coffee or alcohol. And of course no cigarettes. He is having difficulty writing. The deadline for my column is tomorrow morning.
In her introduction of me in the new section of the newspaper, the editor called me “venerable.” A francophone woman e-mailed me about my first column and misquoted the word. She called me “vulnerable.”