In walks Minerva Bannister, her eighty year old frame propped up by a wheely-zimmer-stool thingy of impressively modern design, which she promptly reverses into place, applies the brakes and perches upon. She’s been summoned to the chest clinic and demands to know why. At least she does when she’s stopped gasping and spluttering after her shuffle down the corridor.
As she sits there it occurs to me, looking at her assorted list of ailments, that it is her atheroma hardened arteries that are holding her up more than her porous bones. Her leathery hide, wrinkled as any elephant, is tattooed with the accumulation of sixty seven years of nicotine exposure. She looks for all the world like a Neolithic peat-bog mummy. Just one with a bit of a cough. Oh, and a ten a day habit and a regular inhaler prescription.
Which last fact should have been a bit of a clue as to why she was in the chest clinic. And yet, somehow, the past six decades of medical advancement seem to have passed her by rather. It seems that when she was a young gel someone had told her smoking was a good and healthy thing to do, and she has stuck with that advice through thick and thin. The fact that she cannot now manage ten yards without gasping must surely be down to something else. And the angina she’s been getting for more than a decade. Everyone knows that’s all to do with cholesterol, and she’s taking her statins so that’s alright isn’t it. And anyhow the inhaler helps her to get about a bit better, and she never goes out anyway, hasn’t done for years, unless you count the shuffles to the newsagent for fags.
We do her lung function, just for fun, and it’s horrible. Effectively she has 20% of her predicted lung capacity and a “lung age” older than Metheusala. But still, her daughter-in-law intones, it would be cruel to try to stop her smoking. It’s the only bit of pleasure she has you know.
Would it be mean of me to speculate if dear Minerva is a woman of substance at this point?