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Emphysema – a Poem


Perspective of an Alveolar Cell

Ashley Davidoff MD Copyright 2015

Healthy Alveolus

When I was young my cell buddies and the tissues around us felt invincible

The ease and elasticity with which we opened and closed –

Allowing the breeze of

Beautiful oxygen ….in

And dirty carbon dioxide ….out

Was executed without effort

It really was a breeze – right through our strong bodies

No effort


Alveolus in Healthy Lungs

Then  one day – when the guy in charge was about 14

When his hormones started to fill his psyche

He went to a party

Lots of little talk

And “cool” this and “cool” that

And “come on … try this” and “try that”

And in his psyche I read

(though he did not consciously know it )

“I want to fit in”…  “I want to look cool”

And suddenly while waiting for my beautiful blue oxygen

A wave of  black and gray stink air imploded in my face

“Yech” I shouted

And that was the beginning of the end

Day after day

Smelly smoke continued to come down the pipeline

.. and it took control of him

Even though he knew better

Early morning when we woke up

After breakfast with a cup of coffee

Same after lunch and after dinner

And just before sweet repose

He blew this black-gray muck in our faces

And we had no power

Over the years

We lost our elasticity

And we lost hope

Then and Now

He hid his habit from his children and grandchildren who said “yech”

His breathing had a deathly rattle

He coughed green and yellow stinky mucus

His breath stank

His clothes stank

He aged before his time

His skin wrinkled

His voice was coarse

And his arteries became rigid and narrowed pipes

And our small airways were stretched and stretched

Till we looked like big black holes in a ghost town

Of rotting and stale air that could not move…

What We Were… and Now …Big Black Holes 

So when we look back

And try to learn, ……

It all started when he wanted to fit in

A human weakness we need to address at a time


The psyche of our children

…. and many adults

Have a need to pursue superficiality to

Look cool and fit in

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