DAY 13 Perry – Kings Cross
Listening to: Jarvis – Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time
Watch this video and tell me why would you still want to smoke!
I’m waiting outside Kings Cross Station for Katie. A bus passes reminding me that England goes smoke free on 1st July. Bring it on!
We walk the short distance from the station to BUPA Wellness were I have an appointment with Dr. Peter Mace. We meet the crew in the reception area and eventually we are escorted to the good doctors’ surgery.
I’m here to have a Carbon Monoxide breath test. I wanted to arrange to do this test before commencing the experiment but having spent the best part of three weeks contacting a great deal of doctors, professors and hospitals to no avail, I had to press on and change tact. BUPA got back to me towards the end of the first week. They didn’t view this experiment as unethical. They treated it as an interesting experiment and research project.
Prior to my visit to see Dr. Mace I stopped smoking for twenty four hours and enjoyed a good thirty minute run around my neighbourhood the night before. The only reason I went for a run was because I had been so busy for the last few weeks I hadn’t had time to exercise. It wasn’t a requirement for the test.
The carbon monoxide test in question involves me taking a deep breath and holding it for ten seconds. I then slowly and under great control, I breathe out into a device that resembles a breathalyser used by the police to test for alcohol levels by the side of the road.
I blow into the apparatus and no change registers on the light meters. The doctor shows me a colour chart that indicates that my breath has normal levels of carbon monoxide in it for someone who lives in London were diesel engine vehicles are plenty.
I immediately head outside the building and spark up an Embassy #1 cigarette. The pack indicates that these cigarettes have 10mg of carbon monoxide when smoked. (at least the factory machine that tests these claims reads 10mg, but machines can not really emulate how a person smokes).
I smoke this cigarette a little faster than usual but this is because of the stress of having three cameras in my face. I feel light-headed and head back in to the building to have a second test. At least here, if I faint or vomit I’ll be in good hands.
I repeat the procedure, take a deep breathe, hold it for ten seconds and then slowly breathe out into the apparatus. The light immediately changes from green to orange. This change of colour on the chart indicates a considerable increase in the levels of carbon monoxide in my blood.
So why is this bad? Well we need oxygen to live. We take oxygen from the air we breathe and this is moved around the body in our blood to all our vital organs. Carbon monoxide masks itself as oxygen by attaching itself to the haemoglobins or oxygen carrying cells in the blood. A habitual smoker is essentially starving themselves of oxygen. This is one of the reasons why smokers find themselves short of breath, the other being the damage they do to their lungs.
I was fortunate enough to visit Professor Gunther von Hagens Bodyworlds exhibition some years ago in the East End of London at the Truman Brewery.
As a part of this amazing exhibition was the display of the heart and lungs of a smoker and a non-smoker. The differences in size and colour had a big impact on me. The smokers’ lung was about a third of the size and black in colour compared to the healthy comparison. Both owners of the lungs were dead, their was no denying that but what got me thinking was the quality of life the two owners must have had would be dramatically different.
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