To the editor:
Have you ever had that little tickle in your throat that turns into a full blown cough? You are out in public, people are staring and there is nothing you can do but cough? This has happened to each of us at one time or another. Imagine this happening to you all day long for the past 15 years. That is what my friend Ella Martin of Wintersville faces on a daily basis. You ask what she has done. I answer everything known to man. She has been to local doctors, traveled to Pittsburgh, Cleveland and has been evaluated by the National Jewish Health Center in Denver. She has gone through major surgery and taken every medicine given to her. Nothing has helped. The doctors are all discouraged, as they cannot figure out what is going on, they are all at a loss.
I'm not writing so that you feel sorry for her, I'm writing so that you learn compassion for others. Many of you have come face to face with Ella and I bet if you were to see a replay of your reaction you would not be too proud of yourself. The man in Kroger, the lady at the beauty parlor, the ladies at Naples, the lady at the Dollar Store and the list goes on. Please don't tell her to "smoke another one," as she has never had a cigarette to her lips. She can't explain the situation to you when she can't catch her breath from coughing, not to mention the embarrassment. Please don't stare at her in disgust or say that woman needs to stay home with that cough. Because she does stay home, she will only leave to go to church, visit family and to do what she absolutely has to. This chronic cough controls her life. She has nothing contagious.
Ella doesn't have a choice when it comes to her chronic cough. We, however, have a choice in our reaction. Here are a few suggestions: Ask her, "Are you OK?" Ask her if she needs a cough drop. If those make you uncomfortable then just go on with your life with no reaction.
We face many situations in our daily lives and we have choices as to our reactions. Please be kind when you see a mother with an unruly child in public. Many of us have been there. When someone rushes in front of you in line, instead of getting mad, think - I wonder what is going on in their life that makes them so distracted. I hope they aren't on their way to see a friend in the hospital. And when someone has a "bad cough" beside you, don't assume they have smoked for years or are trying to make you sick. Make the choice to give others the benefit of the doubt. It makes you a better person and helps them with whatever their burden is at the time. Remember, sometimes we have choices, and sometimes we don't.