Thursday, January 31, 2008

Smoke Smoke Smoke that cigarette

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Sandi and I am a reformed smoker. (Hello Sandi). When I say I'm a reformed smoker you can take that to the bank. I do not sneak around in the bathroom or on the porch or in the yard hiding to feed my nicotine habit. Oh, I used to smoke alright. Like a chimney. I would put out one cigarette while reaching for another. I would stop on my way home from work and buy a pack of cigarettes even if I had a half pack in my coat pocket. Yes, that's right, coat pocket. No time to be fumbling around in the suitcase I call a purse looking for that life giving nicotine. I had to be able to put my fingers on one at a second's notice. I had to have a lighter that would not fail to flame at the first turn of the wheel. I had stock in the Marlboro Company and single handedly supported entire families of workers for the Zippo Lighter Company. My fingers and teeth were yellow, my white walls at home were yellow. Not a pretty daffodil yellow, an ugly nicotine yellow. Oh yes, I was a smoker. I tried every thing known to man to put down the filthy habit, I used a patch (sometimes two) I chewed the gum, I tried cold turkey. I would announce to the world "This is my last cigarette" as I balled up the half empty pack and tossed it carelessly into the nearest trash container. I always had good intentions. But like the road to hell, my good intentions had filters on each and every turn. If I was lucky enough to have made the now infamous "I have quit smoking" speech at home, I could crawl out of the bed (hoping not to awaken Mac) and into the kitchen and root around in the trash like the crazed addict I had become until I found a piece of broken cigarette large enough to smoke. I wouldn't even make it out of the kitchen, just sitting propped up against the wall, a lighter in one hand and a badly damaged cigarette in the other. Now, Mac had quit smoking in 1999. He made no announcements, called no press conferences, he simply put the last one out and it was over. It is the closest I have ever come to hating him. I remember the day I quit smoking like it was yesterday. It was several days before Christmas, 2002. The week before I had been taken to the hospital with a breathing condition. The condition was, I couldn't. Breathe that is. They gave me breathing treatments, kept me overnight (after announcing that a surgeon would be in to draw fluid from around my lungs...luckily he was a no show) then sent me home. Yep, they sent me home and I was breathing just fine and woohoo, I needed me a cigarette like no body has ever needed a cigarette in their life. Two days later I awakened in a panic, I could not breathe in such a way that I thought perhaps this time I had finally been successful in killing myself. I had hoped that after I retired the stresses I had felt at work would mean that I wouldn't want to smoke quite so much. Luck would be a fine thing. I was on the phone to my cousin (also in Law Enforcement, also a smoker, and on breathing treatments at home!) I begged her to bring her nebulizer kit over ,that I thought I might die. I knew then and there that one way or another I was never going to light a cigarette again as long as I lived. Even the breathing treatment didn't work for long, as at 7 am I awakened Mac and told him I might need to go to the hospital. He took one look at me and bundled me into the car and off we headed to Carolina Pines. They gave me a successful breathing treatment but wouldn't let me go home. I had test after test. The Doctors kept asking if anyone had ever told me that I had had a heart attack. No, no one. They scheduled a stress test an Echo and an EKG. They kept asking that question. Finally, I just told them I suspected I must have because that same question kept coming up. Yes, they said, we believe you have had two events. Uh huh. Two of them. Well, I had the third event while I was on a treadmill the next morning taking a stress test. I remember them helping me onto a gurney, I remember them giving me something to help me relax (can I get a sixpack of that to go?) I remember they were ordering a heliocoptor to fly me to Providence Hospital in Columbia. I don't remember much after that. When I came too there was a Nurse leaning over me telling me I couldn't move my leg for the next four hours and here's something to help you relax (ok, maybe not a sixpack of this one, but hows about one for the road?) Turns out the weather had been to bad to fly, so the siren I kept hearing in my narcotic haze was the ambulance. I learned that women's symptoms of a heart attack are pretty dissimilar to a man's. I learned that I really should have quit smoking the first time I had made the announcement fifteen years earlier. I learned that the only thing worse than a reformed whore is a reformed smoker. I don't smoke, I don't allow anyone to smoke in my home. I nag every smoker I come across, even though I know in my heart that all the time I'm preaching they want to shoot, stab and disembowel me while they're lighting up that smoke for a nice long drag. But people, I tell you this. The inability to draw breath, then find yourself with your chest cracked open while they cut a vein out of your leg to attach to your heart is a mighty strong incentive to stop smoking. Do I want a drag? No. I don't even want to be in the vicinity of a puff. I wish all of you smokers out there the guts to put them down before they put you under.

In the words to an old song:

smoke smoke that cigarette

smoke smoke smoke until you smoke yourself to death

tell Saint Peter at the Golden Gate that you hate to make him wait

but you just gotta have another cigarette!



36 comments:

Tammy said...

Wow...now that is a strong post!
So proud of you Miz Sandi! I wish my Hubby would get your gumption before it is too late. He and his entire family are the most stubborn pig headed people I know though!
I've only ever had one in my life and that one made me sick enough that I never wanted another, thank You Lord!

For Love of Home said...

Sandi, First i have to say congratulation on your success, I am now on my 10th year of smoke free and I know how tough it can be. Secondly, it is hillarious that you knew this song. I used to listen to my Mom's 78's and this was one of the songs. I have sung it to my husband (he does not smoke) but does look at me like I have two heads.

Mockingbird Hill said...

How scary for you. Having worked in the ER for many yaers, I can appreciate what this was like for you.

The Hub smokes and while he is quite considerate...never smoking inside or around me...he isn't doing himself any favors. Tried and tried to quit but I worry someday that he will quit...all together!!

Good for you at this point and that you can stay strong everyday.

Cassie

bj said...

Hi, Sandi...from one "I FINALLY quit" smoker to another...CONGRATULATIONS. I too, thought that no one in the entire whole world was as addicted to smoking as much as ME.I knew in my heart there was NO WAY I could ever quit..I loved them too much! I tried several times to quit but couldn't...after all, NO ONE WAS AS ADDICTED AS ME...NO ONE LOVED THEM AS MUCH AS ME....ME, ME, ME. Never mind that my children were worried about me ALL the time...never mind that I had to SNEAK a smoke somewhere so my grandchildren wouldn't see me or be around the smoke. And, this is where my story begins...and to make this long story short, I was scheduled to go on my WALK TO EMMAUS....3 solid days of being close with JESUS. I asked HIM to just give me the strength to not want a cigarette for 3 days because I wanted to concentrate on just HIM. HE not only took my habit away for those 3 days but it's been 5 1/2 yrs since I had my last one and I never looked back. It was so amazing, I still go to my knees pretty often....
You did good, girl...I am proud of you and I am proud of myself....we BOTH did it, friend.
Hugs, bj

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Dear Sandi!!!
Yes! I was that same smoker! almost 3 packs a day. My husband was 3 plus packs a day. Then 10 years ago on Valentines day...he had chest pains. When all was said and done, he had angioplasty and has 2 stents. His cardiologist told him if he didn't quit smoking he would not treat him. So this man of mine who had just a few weeks prior said that someone would have to put him in a straight jacket in a funny farm to get him to qui - acutally quit on the spot. Me....I quit 5 days later, when I was able to bring the love of my life home......
Hugs,
Penny

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

That is one powerful message, Sandi. You are one gutsy gal to have endured and to now be nagging. I heard once that people actually respond to the nagging. It's gotta be better than ignoring it.

Now whatcha got for those of us who are addicted to M&Ms?

Kari (GrannySkywalker) said...

My One Year Anniversary of Not Smoking is in 2 weeks time, on Valentine's Day. But, unlike you, I DO miss it. I miss it like crazy. Sometimes I find myself wanting a cigarette so bad I can't stand it. Until I think of the stench, the wheezing at night as I lay in bed and the ridiculous expense! Then I start to feel like maybe I made the right decision when I put them down for that last time. And I don't have to plan whatever outings we take around where and when I can smoke. That in itself is worth quitting for. lol

Sissy

For Love of Home said...

Hey Sandi, You've been tagged, go to my blog to see what it's all about.
Cindy

david mcmahon said...

What a powerful, honest message, Sandi.

As we say Down Under, ``Good on you''.

By the way, I just added you to my blogroll. I hope that's OK with you.

Mima said...

Hi Sandi, I have a confession to make at this point - I smoke, I do periodically think to myself that I will quit, but haven't recently done anything about it, but it is in my head which is a first start. A few years ago my attitude was a little different as I was fairly sure that it wasn't going to be the smoking that killed me, the MS seemed to be doing a good enough job on its own, and wouldn't be pipped to the post.

However I have now got a smokers cough, something that my Dad has had as long as I can remember, and my whole family curse at me every time I light up. I can't sneak outside being stuck in bed, so this means that they wander off, and I lose the precious time that I want to spend with them.

At the moment though I can only see the roadblocks, this last patch has been my worst yet. And in many ways smoking has been the only thing that has got me through it - just goes to show how addicted I am, but as things have got to me I have been using it as a way to stave off the worst of the emotions that come.

If things follow their usual path, I should hopefully improve as we move into spring, then summer, and I think that the time has then come to do something about it. I think that I have a goal, I go away on holiday with my family in August, and this year I want it to be as a non-smoker. I don't want to hear my Mum say afterwards in one breath that it was lovely to see me, but that it took days to get rid of the smell.

Lee said...

Great post, Sandi! And thanks for doing it. I have known too many people who ruined their health from this. Congratulations on quitting. Also on making David's post of the day list.

That song, I used to know all the words. I went to a boarding school in San Marcos and our senior class would go over to gatherings at the headmaster's house and one of us would play the piano while others would sing that song and others. As I recall one of the other songs was "Please Don't Squeeze My Charmin" which might tell you how old I am.

Cheers!

Lee said...

Sandi, I did a response to this on my blog. Decided it might be nice for others to hear that song in its entirety so I pulled it off of YouTube and posted it. Thank you so much for the trip down memory lane.

Peace!

Sandi McBride said...

Lee at www.chrysalisdreams.blogspot.com has found Tex Ritter singing Smoke Smoke Smoke. If you want to hear it, run over there and give it a listen...wow...and yes, Tex was dad to John...what a talented pair!
Sandi

JanaBanana said...

Congrats to you! Thats is really great!
Now if my stepmom only had your willpower! She has been sick with upper respistory for months now and coughs and hack, yet still puffs away while having a coughing fit..
then get this, the guy across the street, got throat cancer 2 years ago... well as soon as they got rid of the huge lump in the roof of his mouth he picked up smoking again!~ WHAT A MORON! I dont feel sorry for him at all.

Pam said...

wow sandi! how scarey. congrats on quitting. A fellow I work with has been struggling with quitting for some time.

Love seeing pictures of your furbabbies...pyewackit look so regal! I'm sure he makes that known, right?

Ornery's Wife said...

Kudos for quitting. I lost both parents to smoke induced cancers, my mom's death was hastened by asbestos, but she was a chain smoker-- pre-filter days. My dad, who smoked from the time he was FIVE, rolled his own when they quit making them without filters, and eventually died of melanoma.

I was nine when my mom died, but because of her habit, illness and early death (she was 42), I have never had any desire to take up the habit. Even the smell of smoke brings back the pain of the loss. It is an awful habit, and such a sad waste of health and money. Thanks for posting your story, and I'm glad you are a survivor!
TM

Love Bears All Things said...

Sandi, I quit November 1986.
Mama Bear

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Congratulations! And what a wonderful post, too!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog and entering my blog GIVE AWAY!

xo Lidy

The Egel Nest said...

Quitting smoking has to be one of the toughest things I ever did...I was not a heavy smoker...but it was not easy to stop once I started even for me...it has been many years now smoke free...and life is a lot better!

I love this post :)


Bradley
The Egel Nest

The Egel Nest said...

And thanks for your lovely comments about our little guy, Sammy :)


Bradley
The Egel Nest

NeereAnDear said...

Reformed smoker here too....I am with ya .... such a no no .... I wish the people around me would stop smoking... besides that it wreaks havoc on my sinuses its like watching someone with a ... well you know what I mean.....

You my friend cracked me up with your last post....

I know I have been a bit lax this week... just want to savor my bliss guild feature... as it will be up for a few more weeks

HUGS TO YOU

JO

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Whoo~Hoo!

Are you wearing your red today?

Tara said...

You go girl! You can be like the rest of us and addicted to blogs instead!

Terri and Bob said...

Wow. I am totally proud of you too. I used to smoke, but I was one of those lucky people who didn't become addicted. I was able to stop cold turkey. So I can really feel for someone who has to quit and go through all that pain. You are the strongest person!

Jennifer said...

I bounced over from Kat's blog and I am so thankful. My father has had 2 triple bypass surgeries. One when he was 38 and one last Valentine's Day. He has smoked since he was in High School. This last surgery finally made him re-think the whole smoking thing. They would not do the surgery until he had stopped smoking for a month and they still said that because of the smoking his recovery would be hard. At his second surgery I was the same age as my mother was at his first surgery. That was a weird feeling being at the hospital and getting a reality of what it had been like for her the first time. I can't imagine going through that with my own husband. I am so thankful that I don't have to. I was with my dad right after this surgery with all the tubes and everything in place. I wish I had taken a picture of how awful he looked so that I could show it too smokers. My dad wishes I had also. I am so happy to hear that you have stopped smoking. I want to tell everyone I see smoking how hard it is on those around them that love them. My dad is only 63. The doctors have told him numerous times that if he didn't exersize the way he does he wouldn't still be living.
Sorry to make this so long but you struck a nerve.
Smiles!

Mary Isabella said...

Thank you for that post. My husband has heart disease and it is so important not to smoke. I am so proud of you!!!!! Love,Mary

LivingTheLife said...

I for one am damn happy you put that habit away! I know how hard it is to break the habit of smoking...I saw my dad try to do it for years...he quit once when I was a young girl...and we were all so proud of him...he didn't smoke for an entire year...until one day a fellow employee had a baby girl and passed out cigars...my dad said he figured...what the heck? And the next thing he knew he was buying another cigar by days end...so he started his habit up until he was 59....my mom had died of a major stroke (and no she never smoked...she just had lots of other ailments that caused her stroke)and within 6 months to the day (he most likely allowed his health to take a back seat to hers while he was her caretacker)he fell out of a tree...yep...crazy fella trimming trees...at near 60 and he tore his rotary cuff? and had to have surgery...however, before they would do the surgery the orthopedic in which my sister worked for...so he knew dad had probably not taken great care of himself...ordered that he have a complete physical...including the treadmill stress test...well, of course they found a blockage...a day later and triple by pass behind him...he went home and was happy not to smoke...well, until the scar healed...then we found out he was sneaking around smoking...he died at 65...5 1/2 years after his surgery...I think he would be alive still to this day...if he had just given it up...and he would be almost 75 and enjoying the heck out of his grandkids. Same thing happened to my older brother...last year...smoked for a long time...had a few issues...couldn't breath just like you...and they discoverd it wasn't pneumonia...but that he was suffering from heart diesease...in fact they assured him based on the test he must have had at least one incidence....maybe even 2...a few weeks later...he had double by pass...but sadly...something must have gone terribly wrong b/c he seememd to be doing well...for several weeks...then I received the call...that he had collapsed in the barn and died...and YES...I think he must have gone back to smoking...He was 52!!..so see...I am so thankful you and all the other gals out here have stopped smoking...I just wouldn't have near as much fun w/o all you great ladies...Amazing work on all your parts for ridding yourself of that cancer or heart attack stick!!...stick with it...and I'll keep you all in my prayers.

Thanks for the eye-opener for many...Sandi...OH! and I do so remember that song...and I can't remember why! Hmmmm

Blessings...
Tersa

indicaspecies said...

Powerful writing and an inspirational message to many who need it. Well done Sandi.

celine

Merisi said...

Sandi,
I am so happy you quit for good!
I lost close family thanks to smoking. It hurts me every time I see a person dear to me, even strangers, with a cigarette, this vicious killer.

Merisi said...

I lived in the same area in DC,
Weaver Terrace, right off Loughboro/Arizona Ave!

San said...

I'm so glad you lived to tell your beautiful story, Sandi!

Andi said...

Oh my gosh!!! Yes, this is a pretty powerful post Sandi!!! Congratulations on being smoke free!

Jodie Adams said...

I am so glad that you quit. I know it had to be hard but if you hadn't imagine where you would be right now. I hate that the market puts things like that out there for people to get addicted to when it causes so many health problems. I can proudly say I have never even taken a puff of a cigarette, not even one.

Sandy said...

Sandi,
I'm so proud of you for having quite that terribly habit! I have never been a smoker and thankfully so! My parents were and struggled many times to quit but they both did and added many years to their lives I'm sure.

Have a great weekend.
Blessings,
Sandy :)

Kari & Kijsa said...

What a powerful and effective message!! Thanks so much for your heartfelt sharing! Good for you!

blessings,
kari & kijsa

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