I was looking through my posts for the past few months, and I realised I haven't railed on cigarettes lately. I apologise for this obvious oversight. If you are a smoker, you may want to change the channel now, because you aren't going to like this one bit. I'm sure you smokers think you know what I'm about to say already:
Oh isn't this just great! Doc's going to get all self-righteous and tell me exactly what I already hear a million goddamned times a day, that smoking fucking kills. He's going to say that it causes lung cancer and COPD and heart disease and strokes and oesophageal cancer and stomach cancer. He's going to say that smoking is stupid and should be illegal because it's so fucking stupid. YEAH, I KNOW! I ALREADY FUCKING KNOW, DOC!No you don't, smarty pants. It seems smoking also causes presumptuousness. Because that wasn't what I was going to say at all. Ok, maybe it was just a little. But that's not what this story is about. Mostly.
Yes, we all know that smoking kills (sorry, I know I said I wasn't going to say it, but I changed my damned mind). Non-smokers know it. Smokers know it. Children know it. Cats and gerbils know it. EVERYONE knows it. And we all know how smoking kills (see the partial list of Ways Smoking Can Potentially Kill You above). Until recently I thought I knew all the various ways that cigarettes can kill you.
And then I met Howie (not his real name©), who taught me 1) there's always more to learn, and 2) there are always more ways that smoking can kill.
When I see "Other" on my pager, it's one of the mysteries of trauma that always gives my Inner Sleuth a bit of a thrill. I see more than my fill of car accidents, falls, pedestrians struck, assaults, stabbings, and shootings, but "other" is often quite interesting. My Inner Sleuth likes to guess if I'll be getting someone kicked by a horse or run over by a snowmobile or in a parasailing accident. However, when I see "other" at 1 AM, my Inner Sleuth is almost impossible to wake up. It's all fine and dandy at noon to guess if I'll be getting a lawnmower accident or a table saw accident or a guy who was hit by a falling piano, but in the middle of the night my Inner Sleuth is a lazy little fuck, and he actively refuses to participate.
And so it was that I found myself trudging down to the trauma bay at 1 AM wishing my pager had just said "MVC". I wasn't particularly interested in solving any mysteries just then. I just wanted to fix a problem and get back to bed. Howie, an average, everyday 40-ish year old dude, was brought to me that Saturday night with a bandage wrapped around his entire face. He had no signs of injuries below the neck, so despite his usual nighttime sluggishness, my Inner Sleuth began ticking off possibilities:
Ooh, maybe his ceiling fan exploded and sent shrapnel into his ear! No no, he was hit in the nose by a speeding goose. Oh wait no, he walked into a post and impaled his eyeball! Oh oh oh I got it, Pop Rocks and Coke made his face explode!
My Inner Sleuth can be an annoying twit at times, and he's usually wrong. Since we were talking about cigarettes earlier, you've obviously deduced that this was a smoking-related injury. Well done indeed, Mr. Holmes.
Howie had been drinking with his buddies when he decided he needed a cigarette break. His wife doesn't let him smoke in the house, so she forced him to go outside. He went to his back porch to light up, and as soon as his cigarette was lit, a dog jumped out of nowhere and latched onto his face, severely lacerating his eyebrow and ripping off the entire tip of his nose.
The damage to his nasal cartilage was extensive, so I asked the plastic reconstructive surgeon on call to take a look at it. He's had one procedure so far with (most likely) several more to go.
So the moral of the story is this: if he hadn't been a smoker, he would never have gone outside while that killer dog was lying in wait, and this never would have happened. I think we can now safely and appropriately add "dog bite" onto the ever-growing list of Ways Smoking Can Potentially Kill You.
Even dogs know that smoking is stupid.