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elvan Blog

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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

elvan

Going to be a challenging week

Posted by elvan Sep 28, 2019

I start my new job tomorrow, it's just as a cashier in the student union at a local university and I am sure it will be fine but I am a little tense about walking across campus to get to my building when it is hot and humid and it is forecast to be the same tomorrow.  After my first day of work, comes Monday when I have to have my husband at the hospital an hour and a half away for cataract surgery.  He has to check in at 6:30, oh joy and rapture.  I HATE mornings but it sounds like I might get to see my first sunrise in years.  He has to be back at the hospital on Tuesday and Friday for follow up appointments.  This will definitely be a challenge for me.  I have a rough time sitting for any length of time because my back is a "train wreck"...I am quoting a doctor in urgent care.

 

I have not smoked in over 5 1/2 years and I no longer get craves but this afternoon, I smelled phantom cigarette smoke that was so strong I went outside to see if there was someone under my window.  I am SO GLAD I don't smoke any more.

 

In any event, I may be even more scarce than usual this week but I will be thinking of all of you.

 

Love you,

Ellen

elvan

Company

Posted by elvan Sep 19, 2019

My oldest daughter and my grandson have been visiting here since very early, like 4:45AM, they have been cleaning up the yard and trying to get things looking better here.  They even bought some flowers and some bulbs to plant.  It has been really nice but I have had absolutely no time to be on here, they are leaving on Sunday and I will be back but I cannot be on here for now.

 

I love you all and I AM thinking of you, I am also reading a bit here and there.

 

Please take care, 

Ellen

elvan

Update on Ellen aka @elvan

Posted by elvan Sep 5, 2019

I am sincerely humbled by all of the comments on my blog and all of the prayers and support I have received.  I wish I could tell you that we know what is going on with my son but, the fact is, we have no idea and he is not improving.  His personality is in a steep decline because of his frustration.  He feels useless (it is a feeling I am quite familiar with).  I talked to him today as I do pretty much every day, he said that the pain just keeps getting worse and that he does not know what to do, his next appointments are next month.  I don't know how to encourage him at this point. 

 

The cafe will be staying open until the end of September, I applied at the university in town where I have worked before. They ran a background check and just got results today, they want me to start on the 8th.  The job is as a cashier in the main dining area for undergraduates.  I love students and I am sure I will enjoy being around them although my former boss at the the law school says that she does this job in the summer and that it is not one that allows interaction with anyone.  She also said she THINKS it is sitting for the entire time...I CAN'T sit for any length of time or my back spasms will take over my life.  Seriously, if I have to drive over an hour, I am in screaming pain, no matter what I do.  I am not sure about parking, the garage is a very long ways from where I will be working and I had difficulty walking that distance when I worked at the bookstore years ago.  That was when my COPD was nowhere near as bad as it is today...I have to ask if they will provide handicapped parking..  I also have to ask about standing and if they can accommodate that need.  I filled out the application on line last week and I was called within 15 minutes of submitting it and asked when I could start.  I was a bit taken aback and I didn't ask any questions.  He asked what size uniform I need and I said, "uniform?"  He said that they have staff wear polo shirts...oh joy.  I told him the largest one he has so I won't feel uncomfortable,.  He asked if I wanted a men's xl and I laughed and told him it would probably come down below my knees.  I told him that I am not big but my back is twisted and I would prefer not to have that be too obvious.  He seemed really nice if a bit anxious to find someone.  I will work Sundays from 10 to 5...he asked if I could do 10 to 7 and I said there was NO CHANCE.  I do think this will be a much less physical job than the cafe but I really loved working at the cafe and helping them out.  I just cannot afford to work for nothing.  There are several staff members who are doing just that.  They are young and do not have responsibilities.  I have to sign papers at Human Resources tomorrow before 4:30 and I will try to ask them the questions I have.  I will also set up direct deposit which I was supposed to have through the cafe but it kept getting switched back to checks...I have not been paid for the last three shifts I have worked but I have been assured that I WILL be.  Oh dear God.

 

My husband is going to have cataract surgery at the end of September and will need to be driven to and from the hospital three times in that week...I HATE driving.  He is also supposed to be scheduled for a possible series of three epidurals because of back pain.  That would be in the opposite direction, another hour plus drive each way.  I don't know the dates of those appointments yet.

 

Our youngest daughter came for the weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment with her.  It was her father's birthday and she wanted to be here, she also wanted to help prepare his birthday dinner.  I had made a chicken enchilada casserole that just needed to be taken out of the fridge while I was at work and I made his favorite birthday pie...key lime.  She helped with serving and with dishes and she took us out to dinner the next night at a restaurant where I have not eaten in years.  The food was wonderful.  We watched a movie Sunday night and she left Monday morning to get back to NYC.  It is an 8 hour drive each way and I was nervous about her making that drive on a Holiday weekend, by herself but she did fine.  She made it back there and said she was really glad that she came.  She said she would see me in October and I said, "What?" She wants me to come and see her new apartment which has two bedrooms so I will have a place to sleep when I come.  I told her that I have to have oxygen while I am there and she said we will work it out.  She wants to pay to fly me there and back.  I also told her I am starting this new job and the last thing I want to do is to ask for time off when I just started.  I am not sure she has any comprehension of how tired I am all the time.  I try very hard to hide that fact but I cannot do it for very long.

 

I just want you to all know how much I appreciate you being in my life and how much your support has meant to me these past several days...actually these past 5 1/2 years plus.  I cannot be here as much as I used to because I am too worn out but I am trying.  I miss being here all the time but I am trying to read blogs and keep up as much as possible.

 

Love and thanks, 

Ellen

elvan

Just a head's up

Posted by elvan Aug 26, 2019

I may not be around much for the next bit of time...not sure how long.  It looks like the cafe is closing which means I really need to find a job.

 

My son is in constant pain and no one seems to be able to come up with a diagnosis, they are considering MS at the top of the list because he cannot feel his legs with the same sense that he used to, his vision is blurry, he has a violent and constant headache and he has a severe and chronic prostatitis.  In other words, you name it, he HAS it.  The GOOD news is that he quit smoking...again almost two weeks ago.

 

The pressure on his marriage is horrible and he has asked if he can stay with us for a while.  I reminded him that his sister is coming Friday and saying until Monday.  I have ONE guest room and I suspect the sofa would be uncomfortable although I have never TRIED it.  He and his sister do not really get along very well.  Saturday is his father's birthday and I have planned a dinner that includes chicken and NON GLUTEN free ingredients.  I did not expect him or his family to be here, I thought I was working and that the cafe was going to be open.  I am not sure I would be very comfortable having the family here anyways under these circumstances.  I love my step grandson, but I DO believe he is on the autism spectrum.

 

My cats have fleas and I am flea coming them every day as well as vacuuming my house every day and washing any blankets they slept on...I have not found fleas ANYWHERE except on them..  I am not talking about a LOT of fleas, just a few at a time but I want NONE.   

 

I have not physically recovered from working on Saturday and now this stress is seriously impacting my pain.  I am going to try to pick up some things in the yard, small branches and stuff and perhaps weed whack the stuff that comes up to my thighs.  My daughter in law cleaned out half of our front gutters yesterday where we actually had TREES starting.  The other side of the front and the back still have to be done.  I cannot do the back because it is way too high and the ground is too unstable.  I don't want my husband to do it because he can't SEE, his back is painful, and if he starts having chest pain, he cannot be up a ladder.  Obviously, our son cannot be climbing ladders either.  I am waiting for him to call me for a ride to the house.  He gets seriously angry with me if I don't absolutely agree with him about his step son.  My son is OCD and now that he is stuck at home, a piece of lint on the floor is enough to set him off, he does all of the housework, laundry, dishes, etc...and his step son is 13...they are BOTH acting like they are the same age.  His step son seems to purposely do things he knows will set Damon off...this morning, he threw a 32 oz container of yogurt at the kitchen wall.  He has knocked over bookcases in his bedroom right after it was cleaned, he is seriously angry.  This was supposed to be his first day at school.  Instead, after he came very close to punching Damon...they do NOT physically punish him...he ran away, out of the house and to who knows where...he did not have any shoes on.   This is the second time he has run away in less than a month.  It's a mess...my daughter in law is overwhelmed with guilt feeling like she is torn between the two of them.  I have tried to remind my son that HE is the adult here and he cannot take things personally that a 13 year old does.  That sets him off and he yells at me.  THAT will not continue, I am not going to take on his anger.

 

Sorry this sounds so dismal, it is not hopeless but it sure feels close to that right now.  I have no desire to smoke, I know that would not help ANYTHING, I am way past believing that it would.  I will be back when I can but, for now, I just cannot keep up with my life and the site.  You are all stronger than this addiction and that is saying something since this addiction lifts emotional weights when we are not looking.  It knows our weaknesses but we know ITS weaknesses too...it hates to be ignored.  

 

Love to all of you...say a little prayer for my screwed up family.

Ellen

elvan

2nd hand smoke

Posted by elvan Aug 3, 2019

I went to my friend's pool on Thursday and I was so excited because I had been completely alone the day before and I hoped this day would be the same.  No such luck, when I was about halfway through my workout, my friend and another friend showed up and did their usual routine before they work out.  They each chain smoked in the gazebo next to the pool.  Normally, it does not particularly bother me, I just move farther away, I keep on going.  It was a challenging time because the wind was blowing the smoke directly at me (at least it seemed that way) and I could feel myself filling with congestion.  I JUST wanted to finish my workout, I kept going and, of course, I get a bit short of breath when I work out, puffing away.  I tried to keep as far from the smoke as possible...I even tried to pull my bathing suit up over my nose...it didn't help with the smoke but it sure gave me a memorable wedgie.  I don't like the smell of smoke and I don't like it getting into my lungs...I used to sit there and smoke along with them a bit over 5 1/2 years ago.  I did notice that they are both smoking different brands of cigarettes, one is a menthol.  I am not sure why I even looked but I have to walk through the gazebo to get to the bathroom to change.  I ended up getting my full work out done and felt pretty amazing, aside from my wedgie.

 

I worked yesterday and came home and kept going and I have cleaned most of today...keeping busy is helping me to keep from being a worried mess over my son's health.  All of the prayers and love I have received from people here mean the world to me.  

Love and hugs,

Ellen

elvan

Just some updates...

Posted by elvan Aug 2, 2019

I have been trying to write a blog for days now...maybe longer but I wear out before I can get to it.  

 

I have been having on and off stomach issues for quite some time and after a negative gallbladder ultrasound, I agreed to have a scope so a doc look directly at my “insides”.  The procedure was absolutely painless and I remember NOTHING one they told me they were turning the IV sedation on. They looked at my esophagus, my stomach, and my duodenum. The results were that I have a severe gastritis and an ulcer.  I was put on Prevacid and I see the doctor next week for the results of numerous biopsies he took. I am not really expecting anything but it will be good to HEAR that I am okay. I honestly believe that I have noticed an improvement in the pain and nausea since I started the pills three days ago.  I had been on Prilosec before but since it was not making things any better, I stopped taking it along with a number of other medications that I thought MIGHT be causing me issues. Now, we wait.

 

My son has been ill for several weeks with a severe headache and back pain and pain in his joints along with swelling and redness.  He has deteriorated so fast that I am stunned. He has lost a significant amount of weight and believe me, he could not afford that.  He cannot walk without a cane or a walker...he is 33 years old. He has been seen by several doctors and needs an evaluation by a neurologist, he is also scheduled to see an ENT because he has terrible allergies and a rheumatologist because they think this might be reactive arthritis from a number of infections he has had.  He spent over eight weeks on antibiotics so his gut is a mess. They are considering MS, ALS, reactive arthritis, a tumor, and who knows what else. No WONDER I have an ulcer. It will be MONTHS before he can see a neurologist...he has an appointment for APRIL 2020, my head spun around when he told me that. He had a spinal tap but they only could screen for infection or increased pressure and he was okay with those things.  He has not been able to work in several weeks because he is too unstable to be cooking. I am terrified. I think about all of the possibilities all of the time and then I slap myself for doing that because, I am NOT a doctor and I do not have the knowledge or the ability to diagnose this. Please say a prayer for Damon...he sees his PCP next week, an ENT in three weeks, a urology follow up in two weeks, and he has yet to schedule the rheumatology appointment. 

 

Thanks for your prayers and KNOW that I am not smoking over any of this...NOPE.

 

I have to get to work this morning, may or may not be able to check back later.

Love you all,

Ellen

elvan

2,000 days!

Posted by elvan Jul 12, 2019

I hardly know what to say on this auspicious anniversary.  I certainly never thought 2,000 days ago that I would ever be here.  It has not been all sunshine and roses but a LOT has been. I am so proud of myself that I cannot believe I am here.  Yes, I have COPD and yes, it is pretty bad. I would give just about anything to have never smoked but, alas, we cannot go back and get a redo of adolescence.  I am so happy to have quit smoking and I celebrate this day with a certain reverence for the amount of time that has passed and for the challenges I have faced down.  

 

           Yesterday was a particularly difficult day for me, I had to take my husband to the eye surgeon which is an hour and a half away and, of course, I got lost.  This is my third time going to that office and my third time getting lost. My phone’s GPS stops talking while I am at crucial stages. WHY???? We left home early and were still almost 45 minutes late.  I was a MESS, I was so stressed out that I was shaking. Back in the day...I would have HAD to pull over to smoke, wasting MORE time and feeding into my anxiety. All the while we were driving, my husband was saying that he was going to vomit.  He gets very car sick. I told him to grab a cloth grocery bag from the back seat and just DO IT. His nausea was feeding my anxiety. On the way home, we hit dangerously strong thunderstorms with torrential downpours and strong winds. We were crossing a mountain when it hit and it made it harder than it might have been if we were not at higher altitude.  I could hardly see the cars or trucks ahead of me and I dropped my speed down and turned on my flashers. Pulling over was not an option. When we got home, I was exhausted but had things to do, feed the cats, check for damage around the yard, and get out of my dressier clothing. My little cat, Clementine, loves to carry around a toy of hers that is a plastic stick with a ribbon on it and a “mouse” attached by yarn.  I walked into the bedroom and stepped on it and literally went “flying”. I came to a stop on my left shoulder and knee and my right wrist...the little toe on my right foot was at a 90 degree angle to my foot. Good thing I am tough. I moved the toe back into alignment as tears flowed down my face and I got up and walked around to assess the damage. The left knee is bruised and swollen, the left shoulder is also significantly swollen as is the right wrist.  We won’t even TALK about that little toe that now rivals the big toe for size. Yes, I was tired, I was actually exhausted so after eating and showering and applying ice packs...I went to bed. I could not sleep because of the constant throbbing in so many places...but eventually I DID sleep. I would have been outside smoking like a chimney in the old days...2,000 days ago but I have long since quitting learned what a joke that was and how it would not have helped.  I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Friday, I am working today, walking with a rather decided but determined limp.

 

I will look forward to returning home and will be watching for that notorious stick.

Love,

Ellen

elvan

Not to Worry

Posted by elvan Jun 9, 2019

I have been struggling with some paralyzing nausea and shakiness for several days now.  I have to step away from the site until I feel better.  I am sure it will be alright but, for now, I am just going to mark everything as read even though I cannot read everything, I will be back as soon as I can but I do not want anyone to worry. 

 

I am making this so that no comments can be added, I know that you are all going to wish me well and I appreciate that but I cannot answer anything for the moment.  

 

Please take care of yourselves and your quits...NO MATTER WHAT.

Love,

Ellen

elvan

Mass shooting at Virginia Beach

Posted by elvan May 31, 2019

11 people were killed and 6 injured when a shooter opened fire at a large municipal building in Virginia Beach.  The shooter is dead.  No other details.

 

Prayers for the victims and the survivors.

Ellen