Remote Smoker

By Robin D. Keller

Twenty some years ago....before I married my wife, my mother-in-law to be pulled me aside to reveal the "family secret". We talked for hours about her husband and how he died of "Woody Guthrie's Syndrome". She provided me with a packet full of information, told me to read it and come back next week. The packet was full of xerox copies of hospital training documents, genetic data, etc... all attempting to explain HD. All of this data was written in the 60's so it was very incomplete as to the genetic variables.

In all this were notes taken by a nurse in a nursing home. There was one paragraph that caught my attention. I'll paraphrase here.

"After the fifth fire in two weeks something had to be done. The individual who cannot clean or feed himself must be restrained from smoking. Exhausting all attempts, a remote smoker was devised."

Also there was a one line reference to a remote smoker in a pamphlet given to my mother-in-law by the V.A. doctors.

I found this all very interesting and somewhat disturbing. I married Kathy anyway. Now it gets selfish.

I ride a motorcycle, have for years. I also smoked. I attempted for years to smoke while riding. While smoking itself was not that difficult, cigarettes don't last long at 60mph and I burned myself several times while reacting to driving conditions. While watching an old movie one night the idea gelled. I went to the local smoke shop and purchased 10 "Betty Davis" holders. These were 12 inches long, the cigarette on one end, mouthpiece on the other. I cut one in two, the cigarette end I attached to the windshield, put a tube on it, ran the tube across the bike then attached the mouthpiece. Now I could light the smoke and not worry. The cigarette was out of the wind and both hands were free to control the bike.

The first lesson was that these things get dirty fast. And if you happen to get it wet, gooey too. Almost enough filth to make one quit. But you know smokers...after several tries I just resolved myself to replacing the hose and mouthpiece weekly.

Eventually Kathy and I quit smoking and I "forgot" about the smokers. BTW...I still ride.

Apx. ten years ago Kathy's brother, Art started having problems at work. This turned out to be HD. Art lost his job and went on disability. Art and his family live in Missouri, we live in NC. We attempt to get together 3 times a year. Several years ago I was out in Mo. and noticed that everything was pocked with smokers' holes. All the furniture, clothes, car seats...everything was burnt.

I made a remote smoker. Quickly learned lesson number two. The cigarette end must be fixed. Having a fire on the end of a two foot hose now meant that Art could hurl the whole thing long distances when he flailed, endangering even more things. I'll explain, Art would sit, all would seem fine. The motion would happen, legs fly up, arms fly out, head jerks back, cigarette goes flying.

We tried many things. The problem was always keeping objects fixed while Art moved. Attaching the cigarette end to concrete lawn furniture was the safest. Now he pulls the tubing, either the mouthpiece detaches from the hose or it simply falls out of his mouth.

I feel that the smokers do allow the HD sufferer to have some enjoyment. Also I think that you must constantly adapt them to you needs. I accept that the mouthpeice must be cleaned daily and the tubing replaced anytime it gets soiled. The quality of tubing makes a big difference. Medical grade tubing can be expensive, cheap vinyl hose can be had for pennies per foot. The length must always be played with. Some days Art needs four feet, others two. The longer the hose the harder it is to use. Also cheap tubing may collapse in on itself.

One person criticized the tubing. He pointed out that chemical reactions may be occurring within the tube. He has a point; consider it before you choose.

The other problem is how to attach the fire end to an object. Usually I just use a large "C" clamp. It's portable, and adjustable. That last set of holders I bought were round. Here's how I handled that.

I took a toilet paper roll tube, I cut holes in the roll, shoved the holders through them (both sides stick out). Fill the tube with anything that's fire proof and will harden. I've used epoxy, Goop (learned later it wasn't fire proof), and expanding foam (used to make models..any hobby store has it). After it sets saw the the tube in two between each holder. Your holders now have nice wide flat surfaces. Usually you can get the cardboard removed by just pulling. I have never worried about how these look. They usually gum up long before the mount breaks down.

Holders can be anything. I obtained a case of "stop smoking" kits from a drug store that was throwing them out. These were the ones advertised to help one quit in 30 days. On day one use filter one, day two filter two etc...I discarded the filters but kept the holders. I've even used pipe.

I've always used mouthpieces that were designed to be mouthpieces. Either I cut them off of the holder or bought them. Smoke shops always have them, some drug stores do also.

The last holder I made I devised a lighter also. It worked, but I would not recommend trying this. It took a lot of effort and did not last. Our plans are to have them here next year. That gives me another year to devise something better.

Personal note. I have been harassed over these. Some people consider these to be drug paraphernalia.

DISCLAIMER #1. I am not a medical professional. The information contained here is for you own enjoyment. I will not accept responsibity for your actions.

DISCLAIMER #2. This documnet haz not been spel chequed in any way.

Robin D. Keller WA4WPD GWRRA 112943 Lemans R0344
Nashville, N.C. 27856 USA
919-937-2800-246 work

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Last updated: Dec. 5, 2010