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When I began smoking it was a cool thing to do. I suppose that tells you just how long I've been traveling tobacco road. I used to deliver mail with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth and smoking helped my sortation in the morning before I went out on my route. Imagine, if you will, a chunky young woman smoking up a storm, while walking at a good clip, and climbing up and down thousands of stairs each day. I worried more about why I couldn't lose weight considering the thousands of calories I burned than what 20 plus cigarettes daily were doing to my lungs. I had a small glass ashtray by my case cause, in those days, nobody thought about 2nd hand smoke never mind the flammable factor of all that paper. When I'd delivered rural mail I had managed to set a cardboard box alight when the butt I tossed out the window on a rainy day never made it and nestled amongst the missorts to ignite 1/2 hour later and sent me into a panic.

When Canada Post went smokeless, I'd transferred to the driving section and I won't tell a fib and claim I never smoked in my assigned truck when I was out of sight of the supervisors. Catching smoking employees wasn't at the top of their HIT parade anyhow and as long as we didn't flaunt it by blowing smoke in their faces or toss butts at them as we drove by we were immune from discipline of any kind.

In 1993, my husband had been diagnosed with high blood pressure and, being a good supportive spouse, I encouraged him to quit smoking and, to show solidarity, I did too. This was a cold turkey effort and I managed to go a whole year and a half before taking up the habit again. Why did I? Three stressful events during one week was more than I could handle. Firstly, a work pal who I was very fond of died, [ironically of cancer], my son was unjustly terminated [he got his job back] and the nadir of those seven days was when I discovered my husband had been sneaking around smoking behind my back. The man didn't have the grace or courage or whatever to come clean with me and behaved like I was his parent even though he was seven years my senior.

By Friday, I'd caught the tobacco train again. Fast forward several years and countless packs ..... puff ... puff ... puff ... but no chew chew.

In 2006, I made another serious attempt but used the patch. That failed when the recreational smoker I was seeing at the time decided my quitting would be a good reason for him to resume smoking for the time I was in his company. Another failure.

In 2008, I came down with a serious lung infection that impacted my breathing so acutely I spent forty eight hours, propped up with pillows on the couch, without sleep for fear I'd die if I dozed off. After that illness I was constantly short of breath but muddled through and the only times I quit smoking were during 10 hour flights overseas.

Then, in April of this year I got another nasty lung infection and decided that perhaps a visit to the doctor might be in order. I hadn't seen a doctor, for any ailment, since before I moved to the island in 2007. I have lots of valid reasons why I avoid the medical mob. When I called to make an appointment, the nurse, hearing my voice, suggested I should come to emergency immediately. So, I did and the minute I walked in they had me rushed into a cubicle and hooked up to oxygen and administered four or five [I lost count] nebulizers. I felt wonderful! The on duty doctor, a young woman with an abundance of earnestness, recommended I drive to Duncan [20 minute away] and check myself into the hospital for 'observation'. I told her that wasn't going to happen in my life time and promised her that I wouldn't die during the night. She prescribed me three different types of inhalers and, reluctantly, allowed me to leave giving me a kiss on the cheek before I did [no, she isn't Italian].

All summer I did the puffer routine, with different coloured inhalers, and the stress of the medication regime took my smoking from one pack a day to almost two. I'd altered my habits radically over the years and designated one spot in my home as the smoking section. During my yard project, smoking was a way of forcing me to take a break which is necessary for me because I'm prone to going full steam ahead. However, this didn't prevent me from falling victim to a most excruciating injury which involved my rib cage and some ligaments or maybe muscles. Even breathing was agony but I managed to hang onto my smoking habit because it's not wise to deprive oneself when feeling vulnerable. This injury never quite healed itself and still torments me with tweaks and twinges.

Then came my 2850 mile road trip in September which wasn't a good time to quit but I noticed that the damp chilly fall weather made breathing more than mildly uncomfortable. Then, in Edmonton, my niece bought me a carton of cigarettes and I was on my way home through beautiful Montana. It was during this trip that I became alarmed. All I was doing was driving and I had to pull over for an inhaler break at noon! My rib cage felt like I was laced into a boned corset six sizes too small.

I don't like taking medication on a regular basis, mainly because I've managed to avoid it for over sixty years. I thought, perhaps quitting smoking might get me off both puffers. I decided to choose cold turkey, once again, because it doesn't delay the inevitable.

Once the carton my niece bought me was finished, October 11th, I hunkered down waiting for the onslaught of cravings to bedevil me. They never materialized and, to date, I've had one mildly meddlesome day. The up side is my chest stopped hurting within hours and while I'm still using the inhalers I've cut back on them too. My oral crutch is chewing on de-wired plastic stems of silk flowers. I find them easier on my mouth than the zip ties I used to masticate. [I don't chew gum and consider it as loathsome a habit as smoking.]

A useful aid has been the memory of Michael Caine's performance in Blood and Wine Less compelling but somewhat effective is Clint Eastwood's character in Gran Torino.

Last night, to treat myself, I ordered a Greek roast lamb dinner to go and OMG it tasted FABULOUS!

I've taken an oath that no matter how easy it is for me to kick the habit nor how long I manage to remain in this current state of grace I will NEVER lecture other smokers about the evil things they're doing to themselves. Those sanctimonious hypocrites are, in my opinion, gargoyles of society. I also swear I will NEVER make smoking off limits in my home. Second hand smoke is the least of my worries!



------
"Tigers bloom where there's oodles of room." Zodiac Zoo


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Comments

The following comments are for "My Wretched Habit"
by Pen

puffer
Well, then, since you're aware of what you've been putting into your body, I won't have to state the obvious. I will tell you I hate the smell of cigarettes. I will cross the street to avoid someone smoking.

Here's something I saw yesterday: I was coming home from market early Saturday. Saw a mom with three kids. The two eldest must have been late teens but looked under 18. They were smoking with their mother. The youngest wasn't but I doubt second hand smoke from three people was any safer for him.

Regarding your post, it's good to be self-aware. Even better when Ms. Self-aware can clearly get her thoughts on paper/screen. Nicely written, my friend.

( Posted by: toscano [Member] On: October 23, 2011 )

toscano
Yes, I'm very aware as to what I've been doing to myself but ... until it began to hurt ... because money is not an issue .. I wasn't going to quit. Pain was my enabler.

Francisco - one of the women I admire quite a bit was a tough ole bird who'd had one lung removed and still managed to hang onto her habit as well as a few glasses of whiskey a day to boot. I think she lived into her nineties cause only the good die young. Here's to being bad creatively instead of a tired cliché.

You know I don't believe for a second that quitting smoking is harder than kicking heroin .... the difference is one is readily available but that doesn't make it more of a trial. I'm not going to get hooked on heroin to make a comparison that's for sure!

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: October 23, 2011 )

Smoke gets in Your Eyes




That's some trip Pen

Firstly hope the Health is staying good now.

I love the smell of smoke, bonfires,fireworks Cigars, Pipes, two stroke engines.... racing car fuel... and of course the cordite both on small arms ranges and tank ranges....even the smell of the old diesel busses grinding up the hill to our boys dormitories in The Cameron Highlands Malaya.

My dad smoked, it did cause him problems kater in life.. we were second hand smokers.... I dont think we knicked his fags but we would play tricks on his roll ups...we saw the funny side.

I Joined up at 15...it was a sort of not optional not to smoke (at school it had been banned) now with all the WW2 veterans leading the way as a shinning example... we lit up... what the hell were smoke breaks for anyway.

I never got hooked on smoking and just had fags handy...maybe a girlfriend would smoke...maybe not..
I married at 20 my wife didn't smoke so I saw no reason to myself...apart from the King Edward Cigars at Mess Dinners

My second wife smoked and once she was diagnosed with breast cancer (unrelated) so did I. There are benefits (if you like smoking) unseen by none smokers. Unfortunately the damage mostly outweighs the benefits.... not sure where smoking grass fits in here but I would have gladly saw Janet smoking it and probably joined her...Janet was a Strong Charector and did what she wanted... she didnt need grass but loved to smoke.

Once I lost Janet there was no reason to smoke other than the social need. This became a more and more unsocial reason. I could take or leave the cravings for a fag but was surrounded by smokers.

Maybe it is just as unsociable poluting the atmosphere by burning more gass than is required to transport you from A to B or a million and one other polutants.... Certainly as a young boy I wasn't happy with the second hand smoke that stung my eyes in Picture-Houses.

Maybe we could move on to Alcohol addiction next

Thanks for the Open Minded write Pen

Eric

( Posted by: Fairplay [Member] On: October 23, 2011 )

of pain
good read..

Take care of you.

( Posted by: Bobby7L [Member] On: October 23, 2011 )

Oh no Pen!!!!
Oh Pen...I'm one of those pain in the butt friends who implore you to stop smoking!

My husband died of lung cancer...after having a heart attack 10 yrs before, because of having smoke two pack a day since the age of 14!!!

I never really smoked,, vis a vis, like Clinton, I didn't inhale...just did it when with a group of peers who did, just to fit in! The main reason was because of my voice...my music professor would have killed me on the spot...not to mention my father!!! (My mother smoked on the sly when he wasn't around.)

Unbelievably...my daughter...who helped me take care of my husband when he was dying..(at home) and saw his pain and struggle to breathe...smokes like a chimney...has emphasema and can hardly breathe...just can't give it up!

This from a woman who as a child, would steal her father's cigerettes (filtered)...cut the bottom half off and place them back in the pack so he wouldn't notice it until he smoked them!
Made for some embarassing moments for him in the board room...but everyone got the message but him, until he tried the patch...never smoked another...but it was too late by then!

Sorry for the sermon...but I love my friends too much to sit by and watch them commit suicide!
As far as my daughter is concerned...it's like
watching a train wreck about to happen, and being helpless to prevent it!! Been there and done that!!

Love ya,
Bea




( Posted by: Beatrice Boyle [Member] On: October 23, 2011 )

yoo hoo .. Bea
I've already quit so you don't have to implore me. If I hadn't quit your input wouldn't have done any good. Like any addiction the decision rests with the person afflicted and nothing anyone else says or does has any impact. My advice to you is to enjoy your time with your daughter because, trust me Bea, nobody gets out of here alive and life is just too damn short to waste time on things you can't change.

If I'd believed quitting smoking would mean I'd live longer I'd probably have done so years ago. I just knew I could get hit by a truck tomorrow.

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: October 24, 2011 )

Safety First!
In that case Pen...only cross at the crosswalk and look both ways!! lol!

( Posted by: Beatrice Boyle [Member] On: October 24, 2011 )

Update!
okay- the good news is that I've lost count of how many days it's been since I went smokeless on October 11th. More good news, unless one counts the drag I took on my son's new pipe at Christmas, I haven't slipped. I almost coughed up a lung when I tried out that pipe. More good news, I'm in London currently which means I do as Londoners do and shop pretty much every day. At Morrisons [5 minute walk away] the tobacco counter is close to the exit so I must walk by it and there's no urges .. just happy thoughts!
Bad news? Well .. yes .. I discovered during my 10 hour flight that there wasn't a bonus for not craving cigarettes ... seeing as my mind wasn't preoccupied with how long until I could have a ciggie .... aches, pains and restless legs kicked in and stole my angst free travel plans.

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: February 8, 2012 )

In Flight Entertainment
What you need is some in Flight entertainment to keep your mind off "Things"

My best friend is Richard
he is such a treat
So I spoil him rotten
though he hangs round my feet

He is always there for me
at my beck and call
With no other master
least none I recall

He gets so excited
so willing to please
Though he can stay cool
when all the girls tease

He isn't a softie
that's far from the truth
Can be rather edgy
stand offish aloof

Such a proud chapie
sticks out in the crowd
I will show him off
If I am allowed

He can be quite cheeky
when he has a bone
Best give him his way
or leave him alone

He likes plunging in bushes
down some deep hole
Never sure of his aims
or even his goals

Just like any other
he knows the score
Even used and abused
he will come back for more

So upwards and onwards
he's been such a treat
Now he lies sleeping
right down by my feet

( Posted by: Fairplay [Member] On: February 10, 2012 )

Another MILESTONE!
SIX MONTHS SMOKE FREE TODAY! I've got another year to go before I match my last attempt in the 90's but ... during that 18 month grind the cravings were WAY WORSE .. and I'd sneak a puff or two here and there. Not one lapse this time ... other than a celebratory puff on Kevin's pipe. If you're wondering .. I don't smoke anything else ... haven't for eons.

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: April 10, 2012 )





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