Thursday, 13 October 2011

"Principles are never a good enough excuse for cruelty and lack of compassion" -- Dan Romano -- C.A.G.E

A comment to the following letter that we received from one of our readers would be tainted with mixed emotions such as anger, sadness and resentment.  Nothing constructive is ever obtained from such emotions we will therefore abstain from commenting.   

My mother, a recent but hopefully  temporary resident of a Stratford Ontario Nursing facility is 82 years old. She has smoked for 62 years! Some idiots in the health ministry/ Stratford Ontario bylaws have decided to ban smoking within 9 meters of this facility. Also, staff are not allowed to accompany her to smoke outdoors. My mother has become slightly physically disabled and she requires assistance even to go outdoors. It matters not that a verandah of 70 ft or more is in place because that verandah (mostly unused) is off limits also. This facility is a relatively good care place to be but unfortunately the short staff situation has become a problem. If the government would provide even one more staff my mother and others could have a daily cigarette. Has anyone ever seen or heard an elderly person beg for a cigarette while in a nursing home? Sadly, this is the case for my mother. She quite literally begged them to let her have a cigarette. She was independent until a short time ago so begging is new to her.
I should mention she smokes 2 perhaps 3 cigarettes a day and healthwise when this is withdrawn, her last enjoyment of life is being denied. Firstly it was her driver license, secondly her partially disabled body was in trouble and now she is forbidden to smoke ( a legal cigarette ) even on the verandah. How anyone in power could do this to an elderly citizen is beyond my scope of understanding especially one who has smoked for 62 years and is unable to defend or protect her rights. Strangely as a smoker she is very beautiful in appearance and looks 10 years younger than her age.

Compassion has vanished and so has her right to smoke. They protect her privacy but strip her freedoms. It is horrifying to think what else Canada might do or is doing to its elderly. None of us expected this to be happening in my mother's new residence. For God's sake someone help the elderly who are being denied their basic rights! At some point we will all have to walk the walk and I wonder what it will be like for us in the hands of these fanatics who have decided to remove all of our risk behaviors. I can only say this is not done with
" alcohol" because many of our law makers are drunks! Believe me when I say that I would prefer to sit next to a smoker than a "drunken" arrogant law maker! Only drunks and idiots believe the manipulated stats if it will reduce the payouts for elderly in long term care.

Allow her to smoke on the verandah with the assistance required.. It is her right to do so. Dictated by compassion instead of draconian laws would enable us to rectify this for an elderly citizen, who does not have many years left. She did pay her taxes for decades and this is her reward -- often referred to as the "golden years". Let me mention that my grandmother (her mother) lived to age 99 complete with second hand smoke. She never had a surgery of any kind in her life. My mother had one surgery at age 60 or so.  Health wise the smoking itself had not harmed my grandmother and if in fact it finally does harm my mother at 82 years old that is her own choice from a life time of smoking but not from 3 cigarettes a day at this point in time. Her doctor knows about her smoking and of course he prefers she does not smoke but he does not dictate her life and agrees that a couple of cigarettes a day no longer can harm her at this age. She has told me to be sure and let her smoke as a last wish before she dies.

Part of the year (in winter ) I live with my Italian born partner who has Parkinson's disease and for this reason we must return to Italy for his health and for him to visit specialists and take part in the trials of new medicines. Because of this we had to arrange a compassionate man who will take my mother outdoors once a day. Also, a female caregiver who is willing to take her outdoors three times a week. This is all at our own cost. What do residents do who are living on a small govt. pension? My family is very much anti smoking and believes she is better off to be distracted from her dirty harmful habit. I feel alone in my quest to give her assurance that she is a worthwhile effort no matter her addiction. I believe she has a right to smoke. This is a lady who reads world history and economics and is not easily distracted by child-like activities that take place in many nursing homes today.

It has left a foul taste so I have begun to think of my own aging and will have to make a decision on which country I should live in and what care might be provided. We must begin at a younger age so that we have a measure of control regarding the facility where we will spend our "golden years" should we ever reach them. Who will protect our rights and who will deny us the simple pleasures we have gotten used to throughout a lifetime? Who will it be to lock the doors and inform us we must stay indoors because there is a lack of staff to
assist us to the outside for a fresh air walk, and/or a cigarette? Pity the poor souls who must live in these conditions of fanaticism set down by our health ministries and governments. The elderly have been silenced and have no hope to recover a measure of independence. God help us all for allowing this to happen.

Last night in the rain I managed to push my Mom in a wheelchair outdoors. Having a slight disability myself made it next to impossible but after some effort we managed with an umbrella in tow to let her have the evening enjoyment of a cigarette. She said «thank you thank you thank you" Poor lady outside in the rain like a second class citizen but it was worth it just to see her smile.
"This ministry thought it could de-normalize smoking but what it has achieved is non other than the normalization of bigotry and intolerance. " 

"Principles are never a good enough excuse for cruelty and lack of compassion" -- Dan Romano -- C.A.G.E

"Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad,
 but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison."
 - William Shakespeare
Thanks for reading this letter.
Andrina Lejon.


Anonymous said...

I can only say this is not done with "alcohol" because many of our law makers are drunks!

Wait. Look over the Atlantic to your brothers in the UK. Alcohol is next on the list. Then food.

It has never been about health, it has always been about control.

Anonymous said...

So what if she dies of exposure -she would have died anyway - she's a smoker. Isn't this what a certain rabid, cruel, evil, despicable Anti-Tobacco bigot would say?

What a sick world we live in. Shouldn't the Anti-Tobacco zealots be incarcerated rather than this vulnerable law-abiding senior citizen?

C.A.G.E. said...

Yes they should and hopefully they will one day. I just hope I live long enough to witness it.
Iro Cyr

Eric Boyd said...

This fanatical treatment of our elderly (and any smoker for that matter today) is, in part, a consequence of people accepting and continually repeating (as this writer does) that smoking is a 'dirty harmful habit.' Time to stop repeating that.

Andrina said...

To Eric Boyd

This evening a staff member said
" oh you are going out to enjoy your dirty habit?" and I immediately thought of your comment and said " my mother is an elegant lady who enjoys a cigarette"

Anonymous said...

Why is smoking any filthier than barbecuing, a campfire, using a fireplace, frying foods,to mention only a few things that produce smoke and that we breathe in without giving a second thought? Who decided that smoking is filthy?