Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Breathing Problems

Talked with a client yesterday who’d been released from the hospital earlier in the day after another bout with pneumonia. His breathing was hard labor, a struggle to suck in more oxygen

He’s less than fifty years old, and suffering from the effects of smoking cigarettes. The doctor told him he has emphysema and other lung damage. That it would be a while before his breathing improved.

Seeing this man reminded me of how passionately I abhor smoking – having quit nearly 29 years ago. It’s not a holier than thou thing with me. It’s that smoking killed seven in my family – including my mother.

And most of them didn’t die right away; they lingered, dragging oxygen tanks behind them wherever they went.

An uncle, a once robust silver miner - who died at 60 – in his last years couldn’t walk from his front door to the mailbox without pausing to catch his breath.

One of my aunts, a beautiful woman, lived with oxygen tubes in her nose the last 10 years of her life. Health issues defined her final years.

In the past two years at least six TLC staff members have quit smoking and are recouping their health, though some are still suffering residual problems from the habit.

At TLC we encourage smoking cessation and are planning more in the way of education to help our clients enjoy maximum health.