Dad First, COPD Second
Dad First, COPD Second

Elizabeth provides support, insight and guidance for caregivers.

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Sandy Surges and Dad's Smoking Urges

An illustration of a person bracing for gusty storm winds. Image courtesy of iStockphoto.comWhen Sandy hit last Monday, we lost power at exactly 9PM. It was restored Friday at 1:30pm. It was quite a scary experience, but being prepared is priceless.

I sensed my father’s worry. While he and my mother readied their medicines, flashlights, batteries and radios, I started cooking. My mom is the gourmet chef at home, but I prepared two dinners that we could eat chilled in the event of a power outage, covering us for a couple of nights. Bags of ice kept our food not only cold on the balcony but also in the freezer. Our living room table became our command center with water, snacks, canned goods, and all our back-up lighting needs.

As I watched the news reports with my folks, I noticed my dad was scared. So much so that when he went to the kitchen, eyed the seasoned chicken cutlets I had just made and didn’t even ask for one. Big hint. I’m like him – I lose my appetite during scary situations.

So I did what any other person would do: I brought out Minnie, Daffy, and Pluto to cheer up dad. And it worked. After dinner, I noticed he placed Minnie and Pluto in the middle of their bed and tucked them in. It was the cutest thing.

As the days wore on without power, news of the loss and outages residents endured on the Jersey Shore, New York City and beyond saddened our hearts. A native New Yorker, it took me back to 9/11.

But luckily, my father was fine with his inhaler and medicines, as was my mother. A big blessing. But as the storm surged, so did my father’s smoking urges. His electronic cigarette wore off and needed charging. He became anxious and wanted to smoke to calm his nerves.

We were finally able to go outside by Thursday and my father asked me to buy him a pack of cigarettes. I refused. I reminded him that his e-cigarette was being charged by a family friend who would drop it off later that evening. As mom and I ran small errands, dad looked around to see who might answer his, “Excuse me, do you have a spare cigarette you could give me?”

He smoked one. He felt better.

At night, he lit up with his e-cigarette, calling out, “Liz, you can take Minnie and Pluto now.”

Nor’easter, be kind, please.

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About the Author

Elizabeth cares for her mother, a diabetic, and for her father, who suffers from COPD.