Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Smoking...I almost left the quitting to late...

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 all right. 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 helicopter 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 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!
 
 

 

14 comments:

Hilary said...

I'm glad you quit when you did but so sorry you had to go through so much until you reached that point. Sometimes we need a bonk on the head to see straight.

A cigarette-shaped post, eh? :)

Pondside said...

I hope some people read this and are helped to stop - thank heavens you stopped and live to tell the story!

Akelamalu said...

I quit smoking over 20 years ago and am glad I did. I'm sorry it took something so frightening with your health to make you quit but it's good that you have. x

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/From Harvest To Table said...

My husband quit smoking 15 years ago, the day I brought him to the hospital because of chest pains and he had to have stents put in.

I quit smoking a week later....the day I brought him home from the hospital.

Glad you are here to tell your story.
xo
Penny

Vee said...

Never smoked, but I do have a killer chocolate addiction. So glad that you were scared straight and that you are helping others to do the same. You sure know your way around a story.

Sally said...

Like others, so glad you were able to stop, but hate that you had such terrible health issues. You're an inspiration, my dear sweet Sandi!

xoxo

Sandy Carlson said...

I am glad you are done with those things. Thanks for this story.

Carver said...

Boy can I relate to this post. I even know the song you ended with. I stopped smoking in 2001. I "quit" in 1984 and 1985 when I was pregnant and nursing and mostly smoked outside when I had my daughter but I still managed to smoke a lot. I can't stand to smell cigarettes when I'm outside now and realize how I was polluting even when I wasn't smoking inside. I'm glad you stopped too.

Carver said...

PS It occurred to me to add one more cautionary tale. With me, as it turned out, it wasn't smoking that almost killed me but it was my suntan instead. That's not to say that smoking didn't cause health problems and I am very very happy I stopped smoking because chronic bronchitis sucks but the cancer I ended up with was metastatic melanoma. It had spread to my lymph nodes by the time I was diagnosed. However, I have been very lucky and knock wood, I haven't had a recurrence since 2007.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Way to go Sandi, luckily I never picked up the habit. Back in our day they thought it was cool to smoke. That day has certainly passed.

Lee said...

Great post Sandi!

Reminds me of when we first met! So glad you like that song! Why is your blog post only taking up half the page? I thought that maybe some pictures hadn't downloaded but there are no image placeholders showing.???

Love,
Lee

Brian Miller said...

be glad you quit...it is def not an easy habit to break...and they def dont help...it can be done though...

Jules~ said...

Hi Sandi, Thank you for the post. Boy that is so close to home. I am constantly in prayer for my mom. She has been smoking 40+ years. She has had 3 heart attacks, 3 stents and 7 angiograms. I know with being 24 hr caregiver to Nana she is indeed stressed and I know she knows she needs to quit. I wish I could do it for her but I respect her decisions all the same. Thank you for reminding me that as long as she is here it is not too late.

God bless you!

Eddie Bluelights said...

So pleased you quit Sandi - it is a horrible addiction. I managed to stop 30 years ago and I know if I hadn't done so then I wouldn't be here writing this. I was a 40 a day man - totally addicted and stopping was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
<y grandmother used to say, £If God intended us to smoke he would have given us chimneys on our heads!" LOL
Take care and hugs ~ Eddie x