8.28.2006

Cost Without the Benefit

"Life is expensive enough as it is. Why pay more?" is the description of the blog, so I find it fitting to embark on a related but more serious topic. Yes, it's expensive simply to live, and there's no need to pay more with money or life itself. I rarely step on a soapbox for this blog, but I think it's important on this occasion. If you don't like to be lectured to, I understand. Come back next week to lighter fare.

Earlier this week, my uncle succumbed to a long bout of a respiratory disease. Suffocation is a terrible way to die. He smoked for 50 years, ever since he was a teenager, and he smoked a couple packs a day. The monetary costs of the cigarettes alone are astronomical. Just think--a few dollars a day, 365 days in a year, times 50 years. That's enough to buy a car or two, or enough to fund someone's college education. What's worse is the medical costs. Doctors, hospital stays, home health equipment, medication, you name it = hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But wait, that's not all. The human toll is far more tragic. Quality of life sucks not just in terms of being sick all the time, but rather in the limitations of what a person can do. I remember inviting him to my college graduation ceremony and party several years ago, but he could not attend because his oxygen supply would not last that long. It's like being put on a short leash--the distances you're allowed to travel is dictated by the capacity of a little green tank. Luckily, he was retired by then, but if he was someone who had a family to support, life for the entire family would have been very difficult. Relying on disability payments from the government isn't enough to cut it. As years go by, the condition gets worse, and nothing else could be done. Those loved ones who are left behind also incur heavy emotional and physical costs, both through the caretaking and the grieving.

I would not have talked about this if it were an isolated incident, but this is the third family member I've lost due to diseases that are either rooted in or worsened by smoking. One of them probably died from second-hand smoke, since he didn't smoke but was around people who did. I'm not judgmental about the character of people who choose to smoke. However, I do hope that if you or your loved ones do smoke, please at least take the time to think if it's worth it, both to yourselves and your families. The ads you see on TV and all the stats you've heard might seem like scare tactics, but believe me, the consequences are painfully real.

3 comments:

Stacie said...

I'm sorry about your Uncle. Smoking is a terrible thing for so many reasons. My former boss at my last job passed away in April from lung cancer due to smoking heavily for many years. Also, we had to move out of one of our apartments because a smoker moved in downstairs. It was absolutely unbearable and started a downhill chain of events which we are still upset about. Smokers not only cause damage to themselves, but to everyone around them.

bee said...

I'm sorry for your loss...

Sales Rack Raider said...

Thank you both for your condolences. I've been really busy with school and work so it hasn't really hit me hard yet, but I'm sure it will on Saturday. I try to take some comfort in the fact that his suffering has ended.