In the course of the last couple of months I have caused great confusion.
One of the first questions fired at me in the hospital [or maybe it was in the ambulance – I forget] was of course whether I smoked or not. In retrospect I should have said [quite truthfully] that I hadn’t smoked a cigarette since 1971. That would have been the truth and I could have stuck with that story. Unfortunately I was a tad confused [having just had a heart attack] I said that yes, I did indeed smoke.
That is where the confusion started.
How many cigarettes a day did I smoke? I truthfully said none. Each time I was asked that there would be a long pause as they digested this information. They would then ask how many packs a week. Again I would honestly reply none, and to put them out of their misery I would tell ’em I smoked a pipe. Rather than simplifying matters, that would then lead to even more confusion.
The thing about pipe smoking is that they know little or nothing about it. Their computerised systems don’t have a check-box for the pipe, only cigarettes. Pipe smokers nicely fall through the cracks in their systems. They have just been taught that smoking equals cigarettes, that every smoker smokes X cigarettes a day and that’s it.
I was given a card on Monday to be handed over to Doc. It lists all my medications and the results of the various blood tests I have had in hospital.
At the very top of the card is “Risk factors”. There is only one printed one [showing how fixated they are] and that is “Smoking Status”. No mention of Diet or stress or anything like that, just smoking. There are three options – “Never”, “Ex” [and a place to enter how many months/years] and finally “Current” followed by an entry ” x _____ daily” which is obviously for the number of cigarettes per day. Too bad if you smoke one a week? Someone [and I haven’t a fucking clue where they got this from] had written in “x 2pks/week”. What the fuck? So somewhere in their narrow computerised system I am apparently down as smoking around six cigarettes a day. No mention of the filtration system in my pipe, whether or not I inhale or even the type of tobacco I smoke. I am a dirty filthy cigarette smoker, end of story.
Sadly, if I am run over by a bus tomorrow I’m going to enter the realms of “smoking related death”.
Or even “killed by cigarettes”.