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elvan

The Annual Walk of Grief

Posted by elvan Nov 19, 2020

Six years ago today, it was my ten month anniversary and I was so excited that I got up early and wrote a blog to celebrate before I left for work.  I got several calls on my cell phone at 3:30 and I was ignoring them because I was busy.

Once I finally answered, it was my husband and he said, "The house is on fire." I am not sure if I was in denial or if I just thought he was exaggerating.  That would be QUITE the exaggeration.  My boss overheard me say that I was at work and I did not know what he wanted me to do.  Like today, it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving week.  When I told my boss what the call was about, she told me to go home.  I told her that I couldn't go home because I didn't have the car, my husband had driven me.  She said she would take me.  When we got outside of the building, I could hear sirens and smell smoke, I could see flames.  All I could think of was that our cats were in the house.  We had lost three cats to the road after moving to that house.  They all were hit in the same place and we made a decision that no other cats would be going outside.  We got to the street my house was on and the fire department would not let us drive up to the house.  They said we would have to walk.  I told them that I had emphysema and there was no way I could walk up that hill.  They agreed to let us go partway and then park.  I stood in the road sobbing as my house was engulfed in flames and I could hear glass breaking as the windows blew out.  I kept thinking about how scared the cats must be with all that noise from the sirens and the house itself.  I told the firemen that there were three cats in there on the second floor.  They told me not to worry about the cats because cats usually find a way out. I wanted so much to believe them, they would not let me get close to the house, I guess they thought I would make an attempt to go inside.  One EMT wanted to put oxygen on me.  I had never been on oxygen and I said no, I would be fine.  I really don't know how long we were there, I guess it was getting dark.  They asked us to just sit in the ambulance for a while and when we were there, one of the firemen came out and said they had found "two bodies".  I burst into tears.  I knew those two bodies would have been Poe, who was the black cat in my avatar, she was nine and Zep, he was a grey tuxedo cat with more personality than his body could contain.  There was one other cat, Mina, and she had just turned 19 in September.  I knew she would not be with them because she and Poe did not get along.  They found her body later, she was apparently trying to get into the room where they were.  All three of the cats died of smoke inhalation, I found that so ironic.  Zep had asthma and he had his front paws covering his face.  Poe looked like she was sleeping, Mina had some brown color on her whiskers.  They told us that we could pick the cats up at the SPCA the next day.  We did that and we buried them in our backyard along with the other cats we had lost.  We lost everything in that house, absolutely everything, photographs, school papers from our kids, all of the things we had been given by family members.  The fire started when an extension cord came into contact with a box of papers.  The cord did not have anything plugged into it and it was new so we really don't know why it ignited.  My husband walked into the living room and saw smoke and ran to the kitchen and got a pan of water and threw it on the box...just as he did that, the heat came on and the flames went to the ceiling.  He said it was all black smoke and he did not know where he was.  He crawled out and tried to get the cats out from the wrong side of the house.  Two people who were walking by called 911 and made him get off the ladder.  If he had gone to the other side of the house, I don't know if he could have saved them.  There was so much smoke damage, so many things that were melted and unrecognizable.  The china cabinet had apparently been burning and they pointed the hose at it so everything inside was shattered. My heart was shattered, I knew that I would never be the same.  I loved those cats so much, we had gotten each one when they were kittens.  Zep slept on my head every night, I shared my pillow with him.

 

People who knew I had quit smoking kept asking me if I had started again.  I remember looking at them like they were speaking a different language, it honestly NEVER occurred to me to smoke.  If I hadn't had the support of the people on EX, I am not sure I would have survived emotionally.  I KNEW that smoking would not bring the cats back...I knew it would do nothing but leave me feeling even worse.  There are people on this site who have lost family members during their first year quit, once you accept that smoking does not help anything, it does not FIX anything, you take away the power of the addiction.

 

I thank ALL of you who were here and who went through this with me in real time, I really think I would never have been able to survive without you.  I love you ALL.

Ellen

elvan

Results of echocardiogram

Posted by elvan Nov 1, 2020

I need to have a cardiac catheterization because the echo confirmed pulmonary hypertension. I need to get on oxygen 24/7, have a negative Covid test & then get the cath scheduled. I am nervous & terribly depressed like i usually do not feel. My heart is broken for my friend’s loss, l feel like every possible nerve is damaged. I will let you know when l know something, good or bad.

Love,

Ellen

Thank you all for understanding my need to spend time with my daughter while she is visiting.  We DID hug, both wearing masks and with our faces turned away from each other.  She has a smile that lights up the world but I don't get to see that.

 

I had an appointment with my pulmonologist Wednesday and she offered to drive, both of us with masks and the windows wide open.  She texted me that she was out front so I grabbed my purse and started down the stairs to the driveway.  My vision was screwed up because of the bifocals and the mask and I misjudged where I was so I went down the last two steps basically on my knees.  I hit the gravel driveway and I really was not sure I could get up.  She didn't see me because there is a large cooler sitting there on its side BUT I managed to stand up and limp and whine up the hill to the car.  I was having a really hard time breathing because of the fall and the mask.  I got to the doctor and did the prescreening before they called me back.  I spent an hour in the exam room which was incredibly annoying, particularly since I looked down at my arm and my blue shirt sleeve was covered with blood.  I rolled it up slightly so I could see what happened and it was a not terribly dramatic skin tear that was just bleeding away.  DAMN.  My Oxygen sat was 85 and I could not bring it up which is weird for me.  The doc came in and asked why I didn't have  oxygen on, he said he contacted my oxygen provider three months ago to get me a portable machine since I cannot carry around a metal one, my driveway is all stones, I need bilateral shoulder replacements, and I have a terrible, painful scoliosis...I cannot lift things.  I told him that I didn't know if they did not get the message or if he changed his mind.  I have an appointment for an echocardiogram next week to determine if there is damage to my pulmonary artery.  That would indicate pulmonary hypertension and if it is from my COPD, oxygen will not help.  Well, that was a kick in the stomach.  IF it is from my RA, they might be able to treat it with biologics.  He wants me to go to a pain management clinic to see if they can get my back pain under control.  I am supposed to call him the day after the echocardiogram to hear the results and to see if the oxygen provider contacted me.

 

I got home and I was exhausted and more than a little discouraged...then the phone rang and my closest friend here's son was killed in an accident on his way home from work.  It was a single vehicle accident, he was thrown from the truck because he was not wearing a seat belt.  I have known this kid since he was three.  I have not been able to reach my friend, she has a huge family and I am sure they are all with her.  I cannot go to a funeral or memorial service because it would be too dangerous.  I am so sad, my heart aches for her and I am angry with him for not wearing a seat belt.  I have to fix dinner and sit with my family and eat.  My daughter eats outside and will not let me join her, she is afraid I might get sick.  I so hate this.

 

Love to all...please wear your seat belts!

Ellen

elvan

Break time

Posted by elvan Oct 19, 2020

My daughter is coming to visit tomorrow through Saturday. She is staying at a friend’s cabin & will mask while she is here. We will eat outside to limit exposure, l won’t hug or kiss her but it may kill me. She & her significant other will not be traveling over the Holidays so this is it. I am alternating between being happy & being so sad that l can hardly breathe.

Please know that l will try to check for direct messages but l need to spend as much time as l can with her.

She is the youngest so seriously my “baby.”

Love you all, please be well.

Ellen 

elvan

Nooooooo

Posted by elvan Jul 16, 2020

I have not broken a rib in a long time but yesterday afternoon, l moved quickly to save my phone from falling, l must have twisted in the worst possible way because l heard a loud crack & then the pain followed so quickly & violently that l was reminded of how long it takes to get better & how it always seems get worse before it starts to improve. I cannot take a deep breatn without crying out & l HAVE to take deep breaths & cough for my lungs. I had a sneezing fit last night & this morning that just about sent me into a screaming response. Getting up is painful as is ANY movement. I know it will take time but l wanted to give you all a heads up, l can only sit upright for short periods of time before spasms take over my entire body. I have to be really careful not to do so much commenting that l cannot stand the pain. I will be reading, praying, & thinking of all of you because those things can be done in a prone position.

Love you all & l am thinking of you even if l am not telling you. 

Ellen

elvan

Might be absent for a while

Posted by elvan May 28, 2020

Please don't worry, I will be back, I think I just need a break.  I don't even like myself right now.  No thoughts of smoking...just dealing with the damage already done.

Love to all,

Ellen

elvan

Up & Down...oops down won!

Posted by elvan Apr 30, 2020

A few days ago, l slipped & fell down the stairs to the basement. I was wearing flip flops & one slipped, l guess. I made a LOT of noise. There are only a few steps before a landing so l did not go far but l landed on my left elbow & the left side of my back which is the “good” side...meaning it is not where it is curved. Initially my fingers were tingling in a very uncomfortable way but that stopped. My left arm is badly bruised from just above my wrist to above the elbow. It was very swollen but it has gone down, it still hurts like crazy & my left side of my butt is black & blue. As the swelling goes down, the pain gets worse. Last night was a rough one. No, l did not think of smoking. I am really grateful that my son was here to get me up. He was terrified & wanted to go to the ER, l said unh uh, get me ICE PACKS. I wasn’t sure l would be able to do much since l am left handed but it hasn’t made much difference. Be careful if you wear flip flops, my poor feet, that is my first choice.

elvan

Viral Vent

Posted by elvan Mar 29, 2020

I am sure most of you are sick of talking about this pandemic, I am just as sick of it as everyone else.  I am MORE sick of the blatant disregard for our fellow humans, those who have compromised health and those who need assistance.  I am sickened by the lack of any toilet paper at any store, brick and mortar or on line.  I cannot believe the selfishness of the people who are hoarding everything like they are "special".  NO ONE should be hoarding ANYTHING, it is sickening to be so incredibly selfish.  I know that some people think this is a media hoax, I am guessing they are not the ones with closets filled with hand sanitizer or alcohol or gloves or masks.  My daughter went to Walmart in western NY State yesterday to pick up some things for the pub she works for.  She said the place was filled with people wearing masks and gloves and glaring at those who were not wearing them.  When she left, she said that she could not believe the parking lot with gloves and masks blowing around.  Apparently, people pull them off when they walk out and then toss them on the ground.  I do believe that my hair stood on end when she told me that.  There are medical providers who cannot get masks and gloves or who are having to use the same mask for an entire shift...the disrespect and disregard for those people is exemplified by this behavior.  So is their ignorance which may supersede everything else.

Ellen

elvan

HAPPY BIRTHDAY @CHRISTINE13

Posted by elvan Mar 8, 2020

Happy Birthday Christine13!  I hope you have an absolutely WONDERFUL day and that this marks the beginning of a SPECTACULAR year for you.

Love,

Ellen

Now, I dream that I can walk up a flight of stairs or just walk briskly from point A to point B without gasping for breath.  I remember the days when people would say hello to me and not look terrified for me...now, complete strangers approach me and ask, "Are you alright?"  Do you need to sit down or have a drink of water?  Sometimes, I can only answer by shaking my head because I cannot get enough air in to speak.  

I went to the store yesterday and my phone rang right after I walked in, it was my husband and he said he didn't know where I was.  I was having a particularly difficult time breathing and he asked me why I sounded so short of breath.  I said C.O.P.D., you might have heard of it.  I got out the words to ask him what he needed because I KNEW he wanted something...he said our son had eaten two dinners he had saved in the freezer.  I said there was no way that he would have done that but I would get him something.  I forgot to ask what he wanted and I really did not particularly care.  He was lucky, they had a bunch of stuff on sale for Super Bowl parties so he was happy when I got home and brought the groceries in.  Can't say I was particularly happy but along with the shortness of breath and the fatigue comes irritability, just one more "gift" I have given myself.  I am in a particularly challenging place right now....good thing I know it will pass.

 

DO take better care of yourself than I did of myself...I huff and I puff and I blow myself down.

Ellen

elvan

Dancing Queen

Posted by elvan Jan 26, 2020

Youngatheart.7.4.12 Can’t wait to hear about your birthday dance party but l am on my way to work. I could not help worrying that some giant would step on your foot & shatter it! Seriously, l hope it was WONDERFUL! ♥

elvan

SIX YEARS

Posted by elvan Jan 19, 2020

I quit six years ago today when I woke up and I could not breathe. I did not know if I could even call out for help. Somehow, I managed to get up and get dressed and I called the doctor and they told me to come right over. The doctor told me that I needed to be admitted to ICU and probably get put on a ventilator to “rest” my very tired body. I begged him to let me go home and at least TRY to get better. He agreed reluctantly and gave me prescriptions for two antibiotics and some new medication for my nebulizer as well as two new inhalers I had never used. And high dose prednisone to help with the inflammation. I knew from the moment I woke up that I could not ever smoke again. I had been sick before, many times, I got pneumonia pretty regularly every fall but I kept on smoking. I knew that my shortness of breath was getting worse all the time, I chose to ignore it. When I would get better from a respiratory illness, I would convince myself that I was fine to smoke, I just needed to “cut down.” I never really did that, consciously, the last year or so that I smoked, I was so short of breath that I would take a couple of puffs and put the cigarette out, I just could not finish it.

 

I have certainly had ups and downs since I quit, I absolutely accept that smoking never did anything FOR me, only TO me. PLEASE don’’t do this to yourself, between the intense shortness of breath and the overwhelming fatigue, it is not something I can even begin to describe. I am a retired RN, I took care of patients with COPD, I always felt so inadequate because I could not ease their anxiety, I never expected to be one of them.

 

I had been quit for a year and ten months when I had lung reduction surgery on both lungs. I was told that it was not a cure but that it may improve the quality of my life for 3-5 years. I was also told that the next step would be a lung transplant. I have degenerative disc disease and a rapidly progressing scoliosis which limits the space I have for even the lung tissue that remains. I so wish that I had quit years ago but I didn’t, if I can reach ONE person to help him or her to quit, it would be the best gift EVER for me AND that person. I used to be able to enter a room without people staring at me or getting up and asking if I needed to sit down. Last week, I took my husband to the doctor and it was very windy outside, by the time I parked the car and got on the elevator, a woman asked me if I was okay, I was so short of breath. I told her it was because it was so windy, she nodded, knowingly. I can’t even HIDE it any more. You DESERVE so much more than this, so do I, PLEASE DON’T BE ME.

 

Loving hugs,

Ellen

elvan

Sleep well, my dearest friends

Posted by elvan Dec 7, 2019

Sending you love and thanks for everything.  You are the BEST people in the world or at least in MY WORLD!

 

Loving hugs to all of you!

 

Ellen

Five years ago today, I got up in the morning and I wrote my "anniversary" blog, it had been ten months since I smoked. I was working so I had to keep it kind of short but I was SO HAPPY, it was hard for me to believe I had come so far.  Later that day, about 3:00, I got a call at work that my house was on fire.  I was in serious denial and I didn't believe it.  My boss asked me what the call was about and I told her, she told me to go home.  I told her that I didn't have the car and there were students waiting to check out at my register.  I insisted on checking them out so they would not be late t class.  Finally, I went with my boss who graciously offered to drive me home.  As soon as we walked outside, I could smell that horrible smell of smoke, I could hear many, many sirens.  I came close to collapsing but I didn't...I DID have to run back inside and get my phone because I dropped it when I went to leave.  My house was very close to work but the fire department and EMS said we could not drive up the hill.  I told them that the fire was from MY HOUSE and that I had emphysema and there was no way I could walk up that hill.  They let us get a little closer and I sat on the road and watched my house burn.  I saw the flames blow through the tin roof and listened as one window after another shattered.  I was sobbing and in disbelief.  My CATS were in that house, THREE of them, the firemen would not let me get any closer, I think they thought I would run into the house to try to save the cats.  I am sure I would not have made it to the door, the smoke was so thick.  I am not telling you this so you will feel sorry for me, I am telling you because so many people came up to me after the fire and said they could not believe I didn't smoke over the loss of the house and the cats and all of the stuff.  It never occurred to me to smoke...THAT was when I knew the hold that nicotine had on me for so long was over.  I am no hero, believe me, there are others on this site who have gone through unthinkable losses...and they did not smoke.  I am telling you this to reach out to those of you who don't think you can keep your quits...oh yes, you can.

 

I have not been around much lately and I am still having a rough time,  I have to get my husband to the eye surgeon in the morning to see if they can laser some stuff off the back of his eye so he might be able to see.  He had cataract surgery in September but his vision is not at all improved.  

 

Even though I am not here, PLEASE know that I am thinking of you, I do believe I might have lost my mind without EX helping me navigate that Hell I was in.  Stay close to these amazing people, they are priceless.

Love,

Ellen

elvan

2,100 Days of Freedom

Posted by elvan Oct 20, 2019

When I signed in today, my stats said I had been quit for 2100 days, I quit smoking on January 19th in 2014.  I have been quit for five years, ten months, and one day (but who's counting?)  I am so glad to be a member of this amazing community filled with such a diverse set of people, all with a goal of winning against this addiction.  I have learned so much since I came here, ways to deal with life, ways to appreciate who I am...I had to spend some time forgiving myself for ever starting to smoke and then I REALLY had to work on forgiving myself for continuing to smoke even after I was well aware of some negative changes that were happening in my body.  I allowed all of this damage to be done to myself, I damaged myself physically and I allowed myself to be emotionally stunted because I thought it was easier than feeling things.  Wow, what a pile of mistakes I made...I smoked for 47 years, that's longer than quite a few of you have been alive.  I quit smoking when I was 64 plus 4 months old.  I was on death's door, I could not get enough air IN to cough and my lungs were packed with infection.  My doctor wanted to admit me to ICU and put me on a ventilator to give me a chance to "rest."  A ventilator is one of my worst fears.  Being unable to breathe for myself, to ASK for help with things...like an itch or a cramp from a bad position.  When I was still working as an RN, we had a young woman admitted and put on a ventilator because she was in respiratory failure due to asthma.  She was ordered to be given sedation along with a paralytic agent to stop her from fighting the vent.  I was a supervisor and I made rounds on all of the patients at the beginning of every shift.  When I went to the ICU, I looked at this young woman's chart and saw that she had not been sedated for the entire shift.  I asked why since it was clearly ordered.  The nurse in charge said that she showed no signs of agitation or anxiety, she wasn't attempting to pull her tube out, she wasn't wincing, so they had made the decision to hold the sedation.  I remember how angry I was, I asked her HOW she was supposed to wince or show discomfort since she was PARALYZED.  The nurse looked at me in horror and said, Oh my GOD, I never even considered that.  I told her to administer the sedation and to report to the doctor that the patient had not been sedated in several hours.  All I could think of was the Hell this young woman was going through and how she couldn't show anyone.  She survived that bout of asthma but her fiancee said she was never the same, she suffered from severe anxiety from that point on.  How horrible.  I woke up during my first shoulder surgery and I could hear the OR staff talking and the sound of instruments being placed on the mayo stand.  I KNEW I was awake, I also knew I was paralyzed.  I told myself to take a deep breath and then realized that I COULDN'T.  I am sure it was for a very short period of time but I can tell you that I was terrified until they restarted sedation and ventilation.  I remembered that patient and how much longer her nightmare went on.

 

I am so happy to have my freedom from cigarettes, to be able to help others on their journeys.  It is so hard to accept that I did this to myself but I am working every day to forgive myself.

 

Happy SMOKEFREE Sunday to all.

Love,

Ellen