Today marks 9 months since I quit smoking. That’s pretty huge for me considering I started smoking at the age of 13 in the school yard. I remember the day and the person who gave me that first cigarette. There are defining moments in everyone’s life. They’re called defining moments because for better or worse, they have an impact on our life whether we like it or not. I think anyone who has ever been held captive by this addiction will agree that smoking is for worse.
Of course, at the time, I was too young to know that this would turn into a disgusting and unhealthy habit that would plague me for decades to come. Back in the 1970’s people were just beginning to realize the devastating effects of cigarettes.
Aside from the health effects the cost of cigarettes has increased astronomically since then. My first pack of cigarettes cost .45 cents. Nine months ago I was paying almost $7 dollars for a pack every day. Do the math on that!!
Other than the two times I quit when I was pregnant, I have been a smoker. Pretty much every memory I have from my life includes smoking. Cigarettes became my old “friend”. They were there for me in good times and bad times. During the bad times, and there have been many, I smoked like a chimney.
I have friends that I would get together with on a Saturday afternoon and our sole purpose was to sit around drinking and smoking. If we went out to eat we’d have to pick a place where we could sit outside. We were hard core smokers. We would literally sit outside in the middle of winter with our coats on in the freezing cold just so we could smoke those cigarettes. We all had horrendous coughs and were constantly clearing our throats, yet we denied that the cause was cigarettes. We always blamed allergies.
As I grew older I began to loath myself for smoking. I’d wake up every day and swear that I wasn’t going to have a cigarette that day. By noon, I was back at it. My inner voice became a bully constantly screaming at me about how I was weak and a failure.
I disgusted myself. I hated that everything about me had the stench of cigarette smoke; my breath, my hair, my clothes, my car, my house. The nicotine was embedded in my skin. It was everywhere. I hid my habit from my dates, my employer, and my children. Although in retrospect I doubt I was fooling anyone. I didn’t like the way I looked when I looked in the mirror. I couldn’t tell if it was my imagination or not but I thought my skin seemed to have a grayish tinge to it.
So what was it that finally broke this hold that cigarettes had over my life? Nine months ago today, I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. During my exam, the dentist performed a new procedure called a Cancer Screening. Afterwards, he came back in and spoke to me and said he’d had his staff make an appointment for me for the next day to see an Oral Surgeon. He told me not to get myself upset over this but he thought he saw a mass and just felt it was better to be safe than sorry. Now anyone with half a brain knows when a doctor makes an appointment for you with a specialist that quickly, that’s serious.
I went home and of course I obsessed over it. How could I do this to myself? Yes, my life had problems but I still had so much I wanted to do and see. I didn’t tell my children because I didn’t want to worry them needlessly. I cried to my dog, Lucky. He seemed to listen.
The next day I got up and made my way to the Oral Surgeon’s office. They were all so very kind and sensitive. The surgeon came in and examined my mouth and said I was fine. Phew!! What a relief!! When I got in the car I cried like a baby.
I haven’t touched a cigarette since that day. I quit cold turkey. I had escaped unscathed this time and that was it for me. Me and my “friend” were going to have to part ways. It was hard in the beginning to not reach for that cigarette but I’d remind myself of how much harder surgery and chemotherapy would be. I loved looking online every day and seeing how my body was progressing during those early days.
I had to put an end to my Saturday afternoons with the girls. That didn’t go over too well at first but eventually they became supportive.
It took a long time for the nicotine to get out of my system and let go of me. It didn’t want to let go. It played mind games with me. There were days when I didn’t feel so great and I would think that I’d feel better if I could just have a cigarette. I wondered if I was always going to feel this way. I questioned my decision to quit.
Then one day it just happened. I can’t pinpoint the moment or the day. It was so gradual. My energy slowly returned to me and so did the color in my face. I don’t have that cough any more. I don’t think about having a cigarette with my morning coffee or after eating any more. Days go by where I don’t think about cigarettes at all.
It’s a miracle!