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Glenda Jones
By Glenda Jones 

I'm not famous and have never done anything extraordinary.  I'm just a  fifty year old woman with a breathing problem.  At the age of forty I  was diagnosed with emphysema.  For the past few years I have really struggled with my breathing problem.  There are so many of us with a breathing     problem, many more than what the average person would think. I feel that people need   to be better educated on this subject.  This is a growing problem.  Yes, I did get my   breathing problem from cigarettes.  I started smoking when I was very young and at that time there was no such thing on a pack of cigarettes "bad for your  health".   I do realize that no one made me smoke, but then again, I didn't know they  could or maybe would kill me either.   I do realize that not everyone with a breathing problem smoked.   I  did and my doctor said that I got my emphysema from smoking.  The price of smoking for me was so much higher than the price of a cigarette.  When I was first diagnosed with  emphysema I kept on smoking.  I tried to quit several times but my addiction was so bad that I continued to smoke.  At that time I was going to just a regular M.D. not a lung specialist.  My doctor at that time smoked himself and to him smoking was no big deal.    He did not encourage me to stop smoking, and I guess he thought that I didn't want to hear all of that about cigarettes being bad for you and what they could and would do to you.   I  don't blame him for my breathing problems.

I had my first collapsed lung in December of 1990.  I was in the hospital Christmas of that year.  Since then I have spent many holidays in the hospital with my lung problems.  That was only the beginning.  That was when I first met my caring excellent lung specialist whom I go to now.  I know without the help of the GOOD LORD and my lung specialist I wouldn't be here today.  He performed a procedure and my lung stayed inflated.  After that I continued going to my regular M.D.  I was in and out of the hospital several times a year with my lung problems.
By that time I had to stop working because of my lung problems.
No Smoking Logo About seven years ago I had to go to the emergency room at the hospital for a bad breathing spell.  I needed oxygen because my oxygen level had dropped.  The doctor on call in the emergency room that night was a  lady.  They took x-rays and blood test, etc.  When the results came back the doctor looked at me and my only daughter who at that time was only sixteen and said, "Glenda," she called me by my first name, "if you don't quit smoking and I mean stop now, you are going to die and you won't even live to see your first grandchild." 
 I can to this day recall the words she said to me.  She put a  nicotine patch on my arm and admitted me to the hospital once again.  I had already tried the nicotine gum and not only did I smoke but also chewed the gum.  The gum sure didn't help my addiction.  After another week in the hospital I got out once more.  I never put another nicotine patch on because I would smoke while wearing them.  I slipped around smoking as I didn't want my family to know that I was still smoking.  At that time I was still able to drive a car.  I would go out like I was going to the store and stop and buy a pack of cigarettes.  I would buy only low tar cigarettes thinking that these would not be as bad.   I would stop at a restaurant and smoke those cigarettes, but the words of what the lady doctor said kept running through my mind.  I didn't want to die and still don't want to die.  I knew my breathing problem was getting worse and worse.  After about three  or four weeks of slipping around at that restaurant smoking, I went into the bathroom of that restaurant and throw away the pack of cigarettes that I had just bought and walked out of that restaurant and to this day have never smoked another cigarette.  I couldn't start to tell you the withdrawals I had when I stopped smoking.  It was the hardest thing that I had ever done in my life.  With the help of the GOOD LORD I have not smoked for over six years.   I'm not telling you even now I don't crave a cigarette ever now and then because after all of this time I do, but I would never smoke another cigarette in my life time knowing they would probably kill me now for sure.

About five years ago I was admitted to the hospital again.  I couldn't breath to good as my breathing level was very low.  I had developed a lung infection.  After my M.D. had treated me for about two or three weeks I was getting worse instead of better.  He called my lung specialist back in to help me.   The lung specialist sent me to the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.  I live in Richmond, Kentucky and Louisville is about a two hour drive from where I live.  After running tests they found a very rare type of pneumonia.  I got down to where I couldn't walk or do anything for myself. They didn't even know if I was going to live or die.   They called in different doctors to help me, disease specialists and lung specialists and tried different antibiotics until they got the right one.  I had very good doctors at the Jewish Hospital.  I also have to say that I have a very good supporting family.  My sister, daughter, or my mother would stay with me at Jewish Hospital even though it was many miles away from our home in Richmond.  I was never left alone while at Jewish Hospital.  After a month there I was put in the rehab section called Frazierwood.  There they had to teach me to walk again.    I was in a wheelchair and on oxygen twenty four hours a day.   I was there for six weeks.  I will also say that everyone at  Jewish Hospital and Frazierwood rehab were very  nice, and caring people.  I did come home in a wheelchair and on oxygen 24 hours a day.  After returning home I started going to my excellent lung specialist.  After a few months I came out of that wheelchair and out of that bed.  I even got off of oxygen some.   I started  having collapsed lungs seems like one after another in a  two year span.  I was having them in my left lung at that time.  Finally a little over two years ago my left lung collapsed again, by that time I  think it had collapsed around 5 times and this time it wouldn't stay inflated.  They had to perform surgery and take out the worst disease part of my left lung, a wedge part of it.  They cut through my back.  It was the  worst pain that I have ever gone through, a very painful surgery.  Again my dear sister, mom, and daughter were right by my side. My sister was there most of the time.  She would brush my hair and talk to me.  It seemed like she had the pain when I did, strange, isn't it?  Don't think there has ever been two sisters any closer than what we are.  After a months stay in the hospital I came home and went to my mom and dads home to recuperate.  My  husband had to work nights and my daughter had a baby and her own family by then.  I could tell so much more but won't right now.  But my dear sister  would stop by  moms after working all day to see me and talk to me which helped me so much.  I'm so thankful for my wonderful family.  Again my lung specialist pulled me through.   Now within the last year my other lung has collapsed several times.  Since November of 1997 I have been back in the hospital three times, once with a lung infection, stayed about ten days, second time lung infection, stayed that time for five weeks, and this last time with pneumonia and collapsed lung, stayed another ten days.  Now I'm trying to recover from all of that but this time can't get back to where I was.  I'm going to start rehab again here next week, as we now have a rehab in our town thanks to my lung specialist.  On down the road my lung  specialist wants me to go to St.Louis, Missouri to have the reduction lung surgery.  My health has really declined at this point but I think as long as there is a breath there's hope.  I don't think people really know or understand what this awful disease called emphysema can and will do to people.  I don't claim to be an expert on anything, but I do know what I've been through with my breathing problem.  I know there is people out there that has been through some, if not all, what I have been through.  If this could help just one person to know that there is more people out there that is going through what they are and that there is still hope then it would be great.   Or maybe if this would just keep one young kid from picking up that cigarette and smoking it that would also be great.  I love to write and I write a lot of poetry.  I wrote this poem about my breathing and I've dedicated it to people with breathing problems.  I'm also in the process of writing a book called "Breathing" about my lung problems and all what I've been through because of it.  I am limited to the activities I can do, but I enjoy going out eating or going shopping  with my family.  I can't walk very far due to my breathing problems.  Outside of the GOOD LORD and my family writing is the joy and love of my life. It has always been. I just have more time to write now.  I have written several other poems that you may see by selecting the poetry button at the end of his page.


         If I had one wish I know what it would surely be
         That I could breath like I did when I was seventeen.

          We don't appreciate what we have until something goes wrong
          I know I didn't until my breathing was almost gone.

          I smoked those cigarettes like there was no tomorrow
          Now I live with the consequence and all the sorrow.

          Those cigarettes I didn't think I could live without
          If I only knew what those cigarettes were all about.

          Now I need oxygen both day and night
          I also have these breathing spells that are such a fright.

          I see my friends that are so healthy and strong
          But my health has been bad for so very long.

          I get so depressed sometimes I don't know what to do
          I want to get out of this chair and do things just like you.

          I just take it day by day
          Only thing I can do with my breathing this way.

          I talk to the good LORD from time to time
          I tell him just what's on my mind.

          I ask him to please not let me suffer and forgive me for all my sins
          To please take me to heaven when my life ends.

Glenda Jones
October 1998
 Poem "Breathing" ©Glenda Jones 1998 Used by Permission
I regret that I must advise that Glenda passed away on January 15, 2000. 

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