Wednesday, January 6, 2010

#81 Why I Cried When I Quit Smoking

Twenty years ago I quit smoking. I did not want to quit. I loved smoking. I loved the smell and taste. I loved holding the cigarette, inhaling deeply, blowing out a long stream of smoke, and of course, making smoke-rings. Why did I start smoking? To be cool. Why did I keep smoking? Mostly because it helped me not eat. It was also something to do when I was bored or angry or lonely or tired. Why did I quit? For all the right reasons!

I truly, honestly and sincerely did not want to quit. However, working in the hospital and seeing first hand the problems, complications and deaths caused by smoking, my hand, literally, was forced. When I finally decided that I was going to stop smoking, I did some research. I knew that the majority of people who quit smoking, quit 4 and 5 times; I didn't want to be one of them. A friend recommended that I call a smoking cessation group that used "Aversive Conditioning" to help smokers quit because she had heard that their success rate was through the roof. So, I did what needed to be done, I called. After I took down all the information and made my appointment, I hung up and cried.

I knew I was going to miss smoking... a lot. I was also going to miss the effects [the good ones] of smoking. I know that's hard to believe, but for me, smoking was the perfect diet. When I felt hungry, I smoked. Smoking was also a great way to meet guys - like - excuse me, but do you have a light? Today, smoking is much less socially accepted than when I smoked. Also, when I smoked, we smokers were the majority.

Today, I am your typical X-smoker. I can't stand the smell, and if someone near me is smoking, and the area is small or confined, and they are the only person smoking, I ask them to move. I know that's rude of me, but I have to say, [most] smokers will move. Perhaps it's the way I ask, or perhaps these smokers know the dangers of second hand smoke and are being responsible. Emotionally, they're probably cursing me. Rationally, they know that they are harming themselves, and maybe they're taking the high road by trying not to harm those around them.

Why am I telling you my smoking history? Because today I read on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer that Widener University is "set for big smoke-out". The subtext read that by July, they will be the first area university to ban smoking both indoors and outside. Amazing... and wonderful. I hate walking out of a building into a cloud of noxious cigarette smoke because smokers have been banned from smoking inside [of course I'm glad about that too]. I'm always amazed to see people standing outside a building in the freezing cold wearing nothing more than their "outfit". I, on the other hand, am shivering in my ski parka, gloves and boots as I walk from place to place.

People who read my blog, and who smoke, might think that I'm anti smoking. Well, if you read my blog, you know that I'm pro-health; that I try to continually improve upon improving me. Over the years, that has meant giving up many things that I once loved -- like buttered popcorn at the movies, cakes and cookies with hydrogenated oil and/or transfats, diet sodas, eating late at night, and smoking. I could go on and on, but the idea is that in giving up those "vices", I feel and look better. As for my internal organs, vessels, muscles and bones, I can only hope that I didn't wait too long, and that any damage that was done from my old lifestyle and habits, has been somewhat halted and hopefully the above body parts have been returned to their original state.

One more thing.... if we know that sucking on a cigarette increases our chances [and those around us] of getting lung cancer and potentially dying, then it's a no brainer. Quitting is the only option. I read a blog today [written by a nutritionist] where the blogger shared a discussion she had with a visiting priest to her church. He had, over the past year, lost 40 pounds. She asked him what had made him shed those pounds. He confided in her that he had been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and that this diagnosis was his wake-up call. Isn't it sad and awful that most of us need to wait for something terrible to happen to make us change? Why do we need to be knocked over the head to see the obvious?

And last... please don't feel that I'm preaching. I am one of you. I am not perfect... I fall off the wagon. However, if this rambling babble has done one thing, may it be your wake up call. Did you feel that? I just knocked you over the head. If you smoke, if you are 20+ pounds overweight, if you are not exercising, if you are drinking alcohol in quantities that are not safe or healthy, if you are texting while driving, WAKE UP!

You'll thank me one day....

Quote of the Day: "I hope to just fall over one day in the middle of a song... with a smile on my face" Dolly Parton


Jeanie said...

Your firm resolve is very inspiring. Whether it's smoking or cupcakes it takes an inner strength to succeed.

Marc said...

Preach all you want! Your words ring true. As people seem to be rallying around health care reform, hoping to have everyone covered and every expense covered, all I noticed is that what is lacking is one's own concept of personal responsibility toward reducing total costs of health care. People want to have their illnesses covered, but unwilling to take personal responsibility for reducing the need for this care. For example, I can't tell you how many times a smoker will say, "you have to die of something." Yeah, that's true, but I don't want to have to collectively pay for your last six months of life on a respirator in a surgical intensive care room.

Chris H said...

Well said.
I quite smoking 20 years ago.. sometimes I wish I COULD START AGAIN just to help me LOSE WEIGHT! But I know all about the effects of smoking, so won't ever go there again!

Alix said...

Darling Bobbie... Babble away girlfriend, babble away!

I too am a reformed smoker. I assumed the smoker title, but never considered myself a serious smoker. You know... I would never be one of those craggy-faced, gravely sounding Crypt Keepers with an omnipresent ciggie dangling from betwixt my shriveled up lips. Except - what a poignant portrait that is. Smoking WILL do that to you. Won't it?

I started smoking in college - chasing the coolness factor too. Did we ever look cool, I wonder? Or just stupid and dependent? Then over the course of years and a bad marriage and a couple rounds of depression and constant boredom and any other excuse that was handy, I again smoked. Off and on. Off and on. Then around Christmastime, last year, for no reason whatsoever, I started smoking again. Ridiculous! By the end of January I felt disgusting and horrible. That's when I decided to do something permanent about my health. I started my diet and quit smoking. Hey... if I was going to be miserable, I might as well consolidate misery. It worked! I lost 70 pounds and am smoke free.

Nothing is worth risking your life. No amount of food, no stream of cool smoke. No bottle of booze {except I do still love me some wine}.

I'm proud of you for quitting and for setting the example. Especially because of your field. Nothing says I'm a fraud like a huddle of doctors and nurses on their smoke break.

So preach it! Hopefully your skillful words will fall on the ears of some folks that really need to hear them.

You rock!