Oh Heck No!
Last updated: August 2021
It all started when my husband took me to a brand-new Dollar Store. I was hoping to find fabric, as some people wanted fabric dolls for Christmas. Even wearing a mask, a rattle quickly began in my chest and my voice changed. That was maybe after 15–20 minutes in the store. I held off as long as I could but then gave my hubby the shopping cart and went to the car.
My don't do list
Do these stores choose those sickeningly sweet, nauseating smells intentionally? That’s a question that I wish someone would have the answer to. This store is brand new. They haven’t even finished unpacking boxes. This is why storefront shopping is on my 'don't do' list. Oh my.
As soon as we were home, I opened the car door and gasped. I was immediately assaulted with the harsh smell of woodsmoke. We have a few neighbors who burn it for their heat source. I remember when I loved wood-burning fireplaces, firepits, and even charcoal grills. They brought warmth, a wonderful flavor to foods, a place for people to gather, and a place of romance. Even going out on fire calls when working on an ambulance was good. I would stand near the front, yet behind the lines, where I could observe and be ready for complications.
Now woodsmoke wreaks havoc. It takes my breath away. There is no way I can visit my daughter’s house, as they have a wood-burning furnace. I’m happy that they have something that works for them and helps them out financially. Physically, they have no health issues because of it, which is the best news ever!
People have asked what they can do to make cigarettes go away. They also wonder about putting a stop to the burning wood in the yard of apartments, in the neighborhood, etc. Some people smoke outside near the building. It has been asked why we can’t reach out as our multitude of COPDers and demand that these things stop, that people shouldn’t smoke anywhere around us.
I explained that something should be mentioned in the building notice, lease agreement, etc., and if not, the management company should be asked. A person should know the policy of the apartments and houses before they move in unless they are grandfathered in.
The rights of smokers
It’s important to remember that smokers have rights too. Remember when we were once smokers? Others likely weren't happy with us either. We are seeing that more and more apartments and rentals are smoke-free, so smokers have to move outdoors. That’s a bonus to everyone, as people can live in a smoke-free environment.
Smokers can’t smoke indoors, so they move outdoors. Yes, some smoke might seep through windows or through a door opening or closing. Frequently, people will smoke right by the front door, since an ashtray is often put there. The hope is that people will use the ashtray and they won’t put cigarette butts on the ground. Someone else might have a fire pit going, which the landlord or landlady has approved.
Cigarette smoke seeps through windows and doors. Fire pits seep smoke as well. With fire pits, the smell is greater because of the intensity of the fire. Wood burning fireplaces, a person can’t get away from it. Anything providing smoke will likely affect our lungs.
Why do we have to smell that smelly smoke? Because smokers have rights too. Because they are alive and share this part of the world with us.
I have been known to grumble. But really is there a place that we can go to get rid of it? Is it really going to make a difference? No matter where you go, you might get the same smoke that you are dealing with or not. Some have been told they could leave their apartment, job, etc., rather than make a fuss.
I’m learning that my grumbles are more toward myself about my own health. Those grumbles are about my weakness, the allergic reactions that will most likely come, and the tight chest with shortness of breath that's to follow. My voice may change and disappear altogether. I get upset that I am weak. Look at me, I have a little cheese to go with my whine?
Choosing my battles
I’m not saying this about you, I can only speak for myself. It’s fascinating really. This old lady is learning which battles are worth fighting and which aren’t. I'm trying anyway. Trying to better myself and become a better person, someone who I would like to be with.
Do I really want to choose a battle about woodsmoke that I can’t fix or change? No. I just need to find a way to be safe from it or to help others find their way. Damp rags in front of the windows or cracks at the bottom of the door can block air from coming in. Maybe you and a few others could talk to the landlord. Suggest that the smoker has to be so far away from the building. I don’t know about the firepit and bonfire. If we think about it, those who love their fireplaces can still have them. They could easily be replaced by gas fireplaces.
My heart goes out to everyone that struggles with smoke, of any kind. I feel for you and I do understand. Do ask about it before you move.
Where do you stand with your COPD?