From the pot to the fire

Smoker gives up cigarettes for longer life, only to get hit by a bus

In Summary

• Sometimes changing the course of history only makes things worse

A smoker's skull
A smoker's skull


Today, I take a break from my woes to share a somewhat hilarious and ironic incident from work the other day that left me shaking a bit.

As a doctor, I’ve sworn to share accurate diagnosis and prognosis with my patients. Diagnosis is the identification of a disease and prognosis is its likely course over time.

For one 47-year-old patient of mine (we’ll call him Maina), his lungs have taken quite a hammering from nearly 30 years of daily smoking, and I was afraid they might not hang in there for much longer.

I’ve tried to get him to stop, but he never does. Every time after our consultation, I’d watch him walk past my window and stop by the road to light one up before crossing the road and taking a bus home. Almost as if to spite me.

After a battery of tests that return grim results, I sit him in my office. “Maina, how much do you smoke now?”

“You’ll be proud of me, doc. I’m down to a packet a day.”

I shake my head. “Still not good enough. You keep up this pace and things don’t look too rosy.”

“What do you mean?”

“If you continue smoking, I don’t see you celebrating your fiftieth birthday.”

The bad news seems to sink in. “Are you serious?”

“Do donkeys poop sausages? I’m very serious, Maina. It’s that bad.”

After a few seconds of deep thought, he places his cigarettes and lighter on my desk. “There, doc. No more smoking for me.”

“I’m very proud of you,” I say. “Now let’s get you back to being healthy.”

Once the appointment is done, Maina leaves my office and as usual, I see him pass outside my office window. Then in abject horror, I watch as he walks on to the road and get hit by a bus.

As I race out of the building towards him, I’m wondering, “How ironic is that? I convince the man to stop smoking so he can live longer, only for him to get killed by a bus!”

Luckily, I give Maina first aid and he escapes with only a few bruises and a broken arm. Even more ironic, I realise that I was the cause of Maina getting mauled by the bus. Had I not asked him stop smoking, he’d have stopped by the road to smoke and wouldn’t have run into the path of the bus.

That incident has left me wondering if maybe things aren’t just supposed to stay as they are without us changing the course of history.

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