Smoking – The Dead Right to Stop
Lung failure. That was my experience in 2006. After 35 years as a smoker and managing to cover every gambit of smoking habits from cigarettes, to cigars, and pipes, I finally did myself in. In 2006 I collapsed with a 10% capacity in both lungs. I couldn’t breath and had to be taken to the hospital where I was put on oxygen and spent the next two weeks trying to survive.
Now, I had halfheartedly tried several methods to quit smoking in my years of abuse; the patch, medication, acupuncture, hypnosis, support groups, motivational therapy, trips to the hospital for a real look at cancer victims. Hell, my father even died from smoking, but that wasn’t an eye opener for me. I’ve always been a hard person to convince when I was doing something wrong with my life and body best smoke spots dust 2. It took two arrests for DWI before I realized I had a drinking problem. I quit drinking after the second arrest found me sitting in jail wondering where the person was who had been in the car with me; that was an hallucination. So fixing bad habits meant that I had to be put on the spot in a life challenging moment of decision.
Smoking cessation is not an easy thing to confront. Smoking so pleasant. It’s relaxing . It’s socializing how to make stone in little alchemy. It’s what you do when you’re having a drink. It’s even what you do when you’re attending AA meetings – go figure! But in reality every day you try to convince yourself that you can quit anytime you want, there’s nothing really wrong with you. Truth is, you just don’t have the courage to see it through.
Yes, I mean courage. The fear was that I’d miss smoking so much that I’d dwindle away into obscurity for not keeping up with my habits. I would no longer be the sociable and upwardly mobile guy with the cigar after dinner. I couldn’t go out on the patio at a party, laughing and mingling with the other smokers. Taking breaks at work to have a cigarette with others would have to stop; how could I network then? And having that pipe while I was sailing – looking so robust and adventuresome – would have go away; no more attracting the ladies with my pipe at the helm.
I didn’t think it was fear. I thought it was simply the desire to smoke. I knew I could quit. I could quit anytime I really wanted to. Hell, you know, I quit several times. I just enjoyed smoking and I really didn’t want to quit. All the stop-smoking programs were just to convince others that I was willing to try, when, in fact, I was scared that I’d lose my friend and really had no intention of quitting.
Then, I was taken to the hospital and the respiratory therapist told me I had a very small oxygen content in my blood. And the pulmonologist advised me from the other side of the oxygen mask, that if I smoked one more cigarette, he wouldn’t see me again. So, I had to come to the realization that I had nearly died from a habit I had told myself I really enjoyed. Confronting the issue of death and not being able to breath was all too real. I had to accept that I was addicted to smoking and I had to quit.
That moment was all too clear. There was no other choice, quit or die! I chose to quit. I quit. Simple as that. It didn’t take any medication, no hypnosis, no patches, nor anything to support me while I went though cessation. Later I found that this was something I really could have done any time in my life.
I recognize now that the cessation devices are only a crutch; a way of saying I can’t succeed on my own, so give me a tool to help me and that I can put my faith in. Fact is, you don’t really need the crutch. It’s called resolution. You get humble and look closely at yourself and make that decision – do I smoke or die? All the programs in the world won’t help you unless you make that one choice in your life – quit smoking. Simple as that. Once you’ve made the choice it’s a no-brainer and it was really quit easy. I accepted that I would no longer go down to sidewalk for a smoke-break. Sort of like quitting drinking – I’d no longer be the life of the party at the local bar. But then in that respect, I could be the life of the party!
Now I suffer from COPD. What a loss. The sailing has become arduous. Working outside on my building projects is almost impossible. I make do with my morning Advair treatment and occasional doses of my inhaler when I’m in need. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to wear an oxygen mask throughout the day, though I did have to wear one when I first left the hospital – sort of a final reinforcement I think. My wife is scared anytime I come down with a cough and cold – I could relapse and end up back in the hospital. I tell myself that I’m okay and getting healthier every day, and I really am. But the damage is now done. Only two years before, on another stop smoking binge, I could easily scale two flights of stairs without losing a breath. Now I can’t walk to the mailbox without losing my breath. It’s so real.