I had my check-up with the thoracic physician yesterday.
For a quick refresher: Three months ago, just a week after my 20th birthday, I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Bronchiolitis. At that point, I was told I had to quit smoking, that any irritants would worsen my condition. My lungs functioned at around 30% when I was admitted to hospital, and my oxygen saturation would dip to dangerous levels. Basically, at the grand old age of 20, I've caused permanent damage to my lungs from smoking.
So, I had my second check-up yesterday. We sit down in his office. My leg swings violently, my hands clawing at each other, staring at the floor with my eyes occasionally darting up to meet his.
"How've things been going?"
I mumble "I haven't quit smoking yet, but I've been cutting back. I'm down to about half a gram of weed a day,"
"...though my cigarettes have gone up to 30-40 a day."
"Why'd you do that?"
As if it was a conscious decision. Maybe because I've cut back on the green stuff so dramatically?
"Have you been exercising? Going for walks?"
Immense guilt hits. "...no."
"Not leaving the house much?"
"Do you have an exercise bike at home? A treadmill?"
"Do you use it?"
Cringe. "Not at the moment."
"It's just... Umm... It's not..."
I decide to not go there, and fall into a silence.
"What does your GP say about the smoking?"
"We don't really talk about it that much."
"How often do you see her?"
"It's not really regular... Maybe every few weeks."
"Are you seeing anyone else?"
I know he means psychiatrists. He thinks I need lorazepam for my anxiety, though my GP won't prescribe it.
"I see a dietician once a week."
"And how're things going with your weight?"
"...it's okay, evening out, staying the same."
At my last check-up, his technician weighed me on the spot. Thankfully they didn't this time, and took my word for it.
After a physical check over, he tells me my lungs are functioning at about 70%, which is a slight improvement on my last check-up, though obviously much better than 30% during the flare-up. My bronchioles have also improved, though they're still very narrowed. Apparently this is as good as it'll get, and now it's up to me to slow further damage. Keep on cutting back, work towards quitting. He reminds me that there is no better or worse with tobacco and marijuana, that they're just as damaging as each other. He says I've done well, to keep up the good work, and I take a sigh of relief.
The first thing I say to mum when we leave is "Guess whose fat ass needs to get back on the elliptical?"
Ugh. I'm going to ask the dietician about it next week, and see what she has to say about it. She says I need to be resting, conserving energy, sitting down as much as possible and asking mum to get my coffees for me. He says I should be exercising, going for walks, moving around as much as possible. The guilt is massive. I know it's about making breathing easier, and nothing else, but it won't stay that way. There's no such thing as 'go for a half hour walk, three times a week' in my mind. It's all or nothing, and when I start I can't stop until I've burnt every calorie that enters my body.
My next check-up is in three months, and hopefully by then I'll have mustered up the motivation to quit smoking. For now though, it's just about making it through each day.
One thing at a time.