This week I actually had to call my own bluff, a couple times. I have been a smoker since 2002. Yes, I smoked prior to that (a little in high school on the bike trail behind the public pool during the summer, and I might have been known to carry some on me at times), but I assure you it was only to impress the upper-echelon of sophistication when you're 16- the seniors. However, it was never an addiction until about 10 years ago. I was living on my own and experiencing freedom for the first time while working in an industry that barely batted an eye at cigarettes. In fact, some of the funniest memories in my career happened on a smoke break.
One memory was more ironic and uncomfortable than well-butter-my-buns-and-call-me-a-biscuit-funny. Toni and Guy used to have their huge show in Dallas every year. Sometimes we would rehearse for the shows in a large exercise room at a 24 Hour Fitness right across the street from Toni & Guy Headquarters. When there was time for a break during rehearsals, a group of us smokers would head outside just like we did at every other job on any other day. It didn't even occur to us that we were puffing away on the sidewalk directly in front of the gym's entrance, that is, until the manager came outside and asked us to move to the back or even to the side of the building, for health's sake! "People don't want to walk through your cloud of smoke on their way into the gym. Move!"
I started puffing my life away the summer of 2002 and smoked a pack of Marlboro Reds a day for ten years (which is an average of: the lunacy that was 2004 and the calmness of 2007-2008 and 2009-2010...yes it does take four clean years to cancel out that ONE). YUCK. It was so easy for me to quit both times I found out I was pregnant that I didn't use the patch, the gum, or anything. Cold turkey. Physically, the withdrawals were a huge inconvenience (the first time I sweat for three days) and it was annoying dealing with the cravings. Actually, it wasn't the cravings that bothered me as much as the unforseeable triggers. One minute I'm cleaning the bathrooms, and the next, a whiff of windex sends me to my purse looking for a lighter. "Windex? Really?? (insert light bulb, add electricity) Ohhhhhh yeah. Every time I used to clean the house, I'd reward myself with a smoke break." Walking blindly into a trigger was like tripping over an invisible laser beam in an action film that sets off a chain of events similar to Mikey's front yard in The Goonies. Only, I didn't knowingly do the truffle shuffle.
|Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment = Me dodging cigarette cravings|
|What is a day without a Goonies reference?|
I didn't realize how addicted I was until I had to quit. Luckily, it was a piece of cake mentally. I developed a mantra, "My body is not my own anymore. My baby does not have a choice of whether or not she would like to smoke a cigarette at 6 weeks in utero, and I'm not going to make that choice to smoke for her." Of course, I would relapse on the first date night or girls night that followed each of my daughters outgrowing breastmilk.
Now that life has settled down, I am out of excuses as to why I can't/won't quit. Smoking is taking at least an hour from each of my days, $180 out of my pocket each month (which comes to $2,160 each year and therefore $21,600 over ten years) not to mention all the extra mouthwash, hairspray, hand soap, lotion, and perfume I have used to try and get the smell off of me, and quality years from mine, my husband's, and my childrens' lives. Even if I dodge the lung cancer bullet (that I'm sure I will WISH could kill me as quickly as a bullet), I'll probably end up with chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and/or a voice box. "Hi. Kids. It's. Grandma. I. Miss. You. So. Much. I. Can't. Wait. To. See. You. Next. Week." (Click here.)
FINALLY, I made an appointment with my doctor so we could define a plan of action. While waiting in the exam room, I saw a chart on the wall which really struck me. It was a graph showing your risk of developing COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) at various ages as a smoker. The FEV stands for Forced Expiratory Volume but I don't know exactly what that means. I interpreted this chart as an illustration of lung function at specific ages and the chance to improve some function if you quit smoking now. Any of you medical specialists have a better explanation? There they are, in black and white, the roads I can take...or not.
Obviously, I have replaced one addiction with another by starting this blog. I don't think my thoughts would be brimming over with excitement had I not taken that first step to quit. I'd probably be asleep right now. But my hair wouldn't smell this good. I started a blog. I bet. I waited a few days to tell my friends and family. I call. (Blogging is not huge news, but the fact that I'm declaring my new path in life and sharing intimate details of my life, without the control of who can view it, is not small news.) Was I really sure I wanted to be a writer and that I wanted to tell everyone about it? Or, had I just been up too late too many nights in a row with sick babies and I got caught up in a night-owl's wonderland? Then, I posted a link to the blog on my facebook. I raise. And I started researching for my books. I call. Regardless of what anyone thinks, I win.