Superman's New Kryptonite: Tobacco

Jeremy Bridges, the Carolina Panthers guard, is just happy to still be alive.  He had a pretty scary incident prior to the Detroit game last Sunday.

The incident began Sunday morning when Bridges woke up at the team hotel in downtown Charlotte and felt like his heart was beating out of his chest. He wrote off the problem to waking up in a hurry, but when he got to the stadium a few hours before the Panthers were scheduled to play the Detroit Lions his conditions got worse.

He couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without his heart pounding.

Because of the inherent tough-guy nature of his business, Bridges contemplated not telling anyone and suiting up for the game. But then he thought about his four children and decided to see trainer Ryan Vermillion, who immediately sent him to team physician Dr. Robert Heyer. After examining Bridges, Heyer held Bridges out of Sunday’s game.

“My heart was beating really, really fast at that point,” Bridges said. “And you’re not supposed to feel your heart beating fast, you are just supposed to know it’s beating. But I could see my chest (beating). It was really odd… It was on and off.

“They call it fluttering. It would be beating super-fast at one point and then slow down. It would still be out of rhythm but it would be a slower beat.”

Then the fun really got started.

On Monday, doctors put him under anestesthia and shocked Bridges’ heart back into rhythm.

“It was scary,” Bridges said. “My wife was frantic. I was trying to calm her down and tell her everything was going to be all right. But in my own mind I was still spooked myself.”

Doctors believed the cause of the problem was nicotine from chewing tobacco.

Bridges doesn’t smoke cigarettes, but he regularly “dips” while he’s at the stadium with the guys. That has been known to cause irregular heartbeats, according to medical research.

“So all of you kids out there in TV land, stop chewing tobacco – it will kill you, literally,” Bridges said as spoke directly Wednesday into a few television cameras.

Bridges said the incident was a huge wakeup call for him.

“You definitely have to look at yourself in the mirror,” he said. “You kind of take things for granted about being here on earth. When something external happens, you kind of blow it off, like, ‘I sprained my ankle. Oh, I can get this taken care of.’ But when they start talking about your heart, your kidneys and your lungs, things like blood clots and your brain, it will wake you up.

“It makes you realize that at any moment you can be taken away from this earth. A lot of people I know call me Superman, but (I’m) far from it. Very far from it.”

Bridges has sworn off tobacco since the incident.  Here’s the thing – I gotta admit that I’m a pretty die-hard, hardcore smoker but I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before.  It is scary, though.

Is it time to throw those smokes away?  Shoot, it’s getting too cold outside to light one up anyway.

If tobacco is Superman’s kryptonite, imagine what it could to an old guy like me.

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