My Lungs – My Health -My Choice

“I would recommend you stop taking the chemo drug until you feel better,” the nurse told me on the phone and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I had gotten sick right before Christmas. Nothing dramatic, but concerning enough to call my doctor, who told me to consult with my Rheumatologist, who wasn’t available at first, so I ended up talking to her nurse.

“Why?” I asked, stomping my invisible inside foot a bit because that’s what I do when I am annoyed.

I had gotten a respiratory infection, which was a big approvement on my health board. After getting COVID twice (2021 and 2022), this time it wasn’t COVID just another bronchitis. I had them all my life, ever since I was a little girl. At least once a year I bark like a dog, I can’t breathe well, I get a fever -the whole nine yards- and after antibiotics or penicillin, I am back to normal after two weeks.

“Don’t ever smoke,” our village doctor had told me when I was eight or nine years old. Of course, I didn’t listen -do we ever? I smoked like a chimney for 35 years, started young, and quit in my early 50’s. I even smoked when I couldn’t breathe, which is hard to understand, but that’s what smokers do. We don’t quit when it would make sense, we quit when we are ready.

And how lucky are we? Nobody forces us to quit (yet). Our lungs, our health, so far, it’s still our choice. Just like we are allowed to overeat and overindulge, get fat or skinny, drink and/or use drugs, or abuse prescription pills. It looks like we all have our own kryptonite and we hang on to it.

Stop the chemo medication!

I started the low-dose chemo drug(Methotrexate) in March 2022, and after months of adjusting and a few hiccups, I am finally at a happy place where I can handle the medicine well, and where I have gotten the relief we hoped for. What was at first a big to-do, is now a standard routine. Every Friday I take seven or eight, small yellow pills and lay down to sleep. In my nightstand drawer, I have small dairy-free chocolate bars waiting for me, which I eat when the RUN interferes with the quality of my sleep -or I am tired of running.

Can life get any better? Once a week I have permission to eat as much chocolate as I can handle. Who would have thought?

Quitting the chemo drug? What good would it do? Or what harm could it do, if I decided not to?

My logical thinking took over and -as usual- it left me with a few questions.

They recommended that I quit the chemo drug for a while because it pretty much puts my immune system to sleep and I understand that. But I also know I have two autoimmune disorders (RA and Celiac) which means my immune system is screwed up to begin with and has decided to attack my body, instead of fighting any kind of bacterial intruders. What makes them think it would fight off inflammation or an infection?

“Will I get pneumonia if I don’t quit the chemo?” The nurse couldn’t answer that question, and neither could my doctor, who called me a while later.

Which made me ask the next question.

“Can I be sure that I won’t get pneumonia if I quit?” No answer there either.

“I can’t tell you what to do,” my doctor told me and I felt instant relief. Imagine someone could force me to quit a medication that might be questionable at times, but has made my life so much easier.

I am on my way to remission. I hardly take pain meds anymore. I am off the prednisone, I can work like a horse, I am strong again, and feel so much better.

My lungs! My health! My choice!

Imagine somebody would have power over my body, and they would have the law on their side, to force me to either quit a medication or take one against my will.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

I am lucky, am I? I am not young anymore and unwanted and undesired pregnancy is biologically no longer an option.

I am fortunate, so far (knock on wood) I don’t have a fatal disease and loved ones and doctors could prolong my death.

I am lucky to still have a say over my body.

My lungs! My health! My choice!

I decided to not quit the chemo. The respiratory infection lingered over Christmas and New Year’s and for the first week in January. I am back to normal now and entirely grateful that it didn’t get worse. I monitored my health, my vital signs, my mood and my food -as I always do.

I honestly believe to understand another person, we need to feel what they feel. Be it the same pressure, the same fears, the same humiliation -no matter what it might be, we are not really capable to understand each other until we walk the same walk -preferably in our own shoes, because there is no way I would ever (again) wear someone else’s shoes.

Our choice! It goes so much further.

The freedom to marry who we love. The right to vote, the right to reproduce, or to smoke cigarettes.

Our choice!

Whenever I have doubts if we THE PEOPLE should have the right to interfere in people’s lives and health and wonder if we should have the power by law to castrate the sex offender, or forbid a woman to have offspring because we question her state of mind, or force other women to carry a baby against their will, whenever I am in doubt, I watch a scene of one the most powerful movies ever made.

The Judgment of Nurnberg

Gratefully, there were many judgment days for Hitler’s helpers, who tried to ‘clean’ up society during World War II. In the clip below, Montgomery Clift gives a stunning performance as a baker’s helper, who was castrated by law, because he didn’t seem bright enough to have children of his own.

Imagine the arrogance, ignorance, and hatred it must take to force others to not have children. If it’s evil one way, how about the other way -if you force them?

How lucky I am to still be able to rule over my body without the painful humiliation to feel out of control -or being ruled by others.

My lungs! My choice!

We need to think quick and hard about what we are doing and when it will end -and how.

We should never try to control people (women or men) and force them to live under our beliefs. This was a part of our history we worked so hard to overcome.

Imagine I would lose control over my lungs and someone would force me to take medication against my will, or I could be pushed to stop a chemo drug that makes my life so much easier?

I wouldn’t like a work like this. Would you?

As you can see, I am back to normal. A bit annoying, sometimes funny, honest, and thought-provoking, because it’s in my blood.


16 thoughts on “My Lungs – My Health -My Choice

  1. You masterfully wove a number of themes together, Bridget, and have stated clearly why having control over our own medical and bodily decisions is important and shouldn’t be abridged. I am glad to hear that you have transitioned to handling your chemo doses well enough to experience some improvement in your overall health. I hope that will simply continue to serve you well, and thank you for such a thoughtful piece of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Being able to make a choice over my body has become more valuable in recent years. Battling RA and Celiac, I want to have the final say. I don’t want the biological drugs no matter how much advertisement they make, I want to decide what I allow in my system and/or if I take anything to begin with.
      All this has made me more aware of how it must feel to lose control.
      Yes, I wove a number of themes together, and I am glad you noticed it and liked what you read.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you are feeling better ❤️

    This blog is full of important messages. Freedom is a word thrown around a lot, but many think having freedom is being able to impose their ideals on others. Your lungs are your choice. Who you love is your choice. And wether or not you have a child is your choice. 100 percent agree.


  3. Interesting post and what a long detailed blog it is lady. As I was reading this post I spotted the emphasis of this blog and that is “My lungs, My Health and My body which was written also in sub topics and I get the picture.

    Also, It was great to read about your health and what you went through over these years, quitting smoking was the best decision for you because it was hurting your lungs. Again, you were very fortunate to not have died after catching all these illnesses such as surviving 2 covid infections and the doctors were helpful in letting you know that quitting the Chrew drug that puts your immune system to sleep.

    What a survivor you are. Anyways, this was a unique and interesting post👏


  4. My son didn’t want to take ADHD medication so we worked harder and harder to get him through school. He never had one pill forced on him. And in the 80s when gay was taboo and most people believed you could get AIDS by breathing the same air as a gay person, I had gay friends and wanted to volunteer in my local hospital’s AIDS ward but my parents wouldn’t let me. I have always strongly believed in to each his own.

    Liked by 2 people

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