Wednesday, 20 July 2011

"Yes, he is the one who smokes,"

she reminded me. The six words were enough to worry me. A friend 'phoned last night. Her neighbour had just been rushed to hospital. His wife had gone with him and my friend had gone in to look after the three children until his wife got back.
The children are apparently much too young to understand what might be going on and were, fortunately, asleep. Whether their mother will sleep well for a long time to come is less likely. Her husband has apparently been "coughing blood" for some time. He refused to go to the doctor. Last night he "collapsed"...fell on the bathroom floor and hit his head. As is the way with head wounds there was a great deal more blood. His wife called for an ambulance and my friend got involved as the family has no relatives here.
She has spoken before of this man. He is apparently a heavy smoker. He likes his beer. He is somewhat overweight. His wife's efforts to try and help him stop smoking, cut down on his drinking and lose weight through healthier eating have apparently not been appreciated. He has apparently told my friend's husband "nobody has the right to interfere". His argument is that tobacco and alcohol are legal so they "cannot be that bad for you". His one concession has been not to smoke in the house.
My friend was wondering whether someone we both know was away on holiday or whether she might be available to care for the children today. No, she is still away, My friend has other responsibilities - and a job to go to. There are school holidays this week so I suggest the holiday programme might take the four year old as well as the other two for a few hours in a real emergency. Fortunately it is not a state school and the same degree of red tape is unlikely to apply. It will give their mother breathing space to try and sort out some other arrangement if necessary.
Perhaps it will not be necessary. Perhaps it will just be a small problem, easily fixed and the family will go back to their normal lifestyle. It would be nice to think that. It is also unlikely.
It is much more likely that, if he survives, there will be days or weeks in hospital. There will be many other appointments. There will be medical bills and other financial implications. There will be other stresses and strains. "Daddy" will not be available and "Mummy" will not always be there either.
It is all very well to suggest that "nobody has the right to interfere" but the problem is that his behaviour has interfered with the rights of other people. Now there will be all sorts of other people involved as well. They will, out of necessity, interfere.
I have never so much as tried to smoke a cigarette. I am also conscious that for years I had to endure smoke laden staff rooms and staff meetings. I am allergic to cigarette smoke. My eyes and nose water. I cough. I feel as if I cannot breathe. None of that made any difference to my colleagues. They had the "right" to smoke and I was expected to endure the consequences.
Attitudes have now changed and I wonder why young children should be expected to endure the consequences. I hope their father will recover. I wonder what he is thinking this morning. Is he thinking about his children or is he thinking about the next cigarette?


widdershins said...

Unfortunately he will perhaps wonder how his kids are but he will still reach for that next cigarette just as soon as he can.

Anonymous said...

No responsible parent should smoke - in fact no responsible human being should smoke. Ros