Sunday, November 11, 2018

November 12 1994

Twenty-four  years ago tomorrow I was planning on being in a murder mystery play called "Death By Chocolate" put on by a local theater group.  I had a cold and a vicious cough, but I wanted to do this badly. 

That night it was cold, snowy, and I was determined (hacccckkk hackkkk gasssppppgassspp) to go.  Got into town and could not find the building; never having been there I wasn't even sure what it looked like.  I felt dreadful. 

Turned around, finally, and came home.  By 9 that night I was having to stand up and bend over to cough, and I was so sick I didn't even want a cigarette.  A new walk-in clinic had just opened up and I told my husband I think we need to get me there.   These were the days  before emergency room walk ins. 

The nurse took one look at me, said, take a deep breath.  "urk".   "I'll be right back," she said, and came back with three prescriptions and a 'starter kit" for the night.  "you have fluid around the lungs. Walking pneumonia, basically.  Go home, give up smoking, and you'll be fine."

For three weeks I slept at the kitchen table with a blanket wrapped around me and a pillow on the table, and I considered my options.  My biggest fear as a smoker had finally come home.  So I quit.  Did it in manageable bites.  Played games with it.  I had smoked for 32 years, so I made my first goal 32 hours.  Second goal, 32 days.  Next one, 32 weeks.  By then I was sailing, and I knew I'd made it. 

The key, for me, was not talking about it to anyone. Not even my husband.  When you do that, you build up all the juices that go into drinking, or smoking, or whatever you're trying to give up. The brain says, oh, man, let's have just one...He didn't mention it until the next spring, and then he sort of snuck up on it.  By then, it was okay.

24 years later, and Im still okay.  But every now and then when my guard is down,  I get that urge...


  1. It's been almost 30 years when I quit as part of a New Year's contest. I succeeded and won the $200 pool.

    I no longer have any desire, the thought of it sickens me.

    1. And good for you, and the money is a pretty good incentive too. I was stunned when I finally got a serious whiff of my clothes that had been stored in a back closet. Wow.

      My biggest fear at the time was that I might not get my sense of smell back. At that point I had lost maybe 90% of it, and it took about five years before I could get most of it back.

      The most annoying part: I gave up smoking in November. No problem. My husband was still smoking, and it wasnt until a year later that he finally quit. Annnnd I had to quit all over again. I wasn't inhaling MY smoke, but I had been coasting on his second hand smoke for the whole year. Damn, I was furious, lol.

  2. My sister, who was a light smoker (a few a day) gave up smoking years ago. She says that there are times when she still craves one. Thankfully, she has never caved in, possibly because the nearest store is a 10 drive away.

    1. I think it affects everyone differently. I smoked for 32 years, and for 30 of them I kept trying to quit. But you know you're in serious dependency when you cannot even walk across the yard or across a room without checking to see if you have the pack and the lighter with you. Yikes.

      What is also a huge incentive, when we quit a carton of cigarettes was about 18 bucks.
      Now a PACK is up around $6. For fun, while I was quitting for reals, I did the math on how much we would save in a year, and it was equal to or more than our property taxes...

  3. I quit over 45 years ago and still fancy one now and then. One thing that helped about six weeks in, was that my boss, a smoker, commented that I'd never gone back to it. Her thinking of me as a former smoker was surprisingly helpful in remaining one.

    My voice was all over the place for months while my system recovered though, finally ending up as clear as before I'd smoked. After twenty years of heavy puffing.

  4. I never had a voice problem, but noticed that the inevitable chest cold fear had turned into an occasional head cold, and only last winter, at Xmas, the first time I've had bronchitis in 24 years. Thank you little children.

    I will admit if I see a huddled group of determined smokers outside a mall, I will sail a bit close to them, just to get a whiff. I remember those days, vividly. Four desperate smokers, clinging to a snow pelted balcony, trying get the damn thing lit and keep it from fizzling out...oh, joy.

    1. Thinking about what your boss said, and the encouragement it gave you--my mother, bless her heart, somehow picked up on the phone that I had stopped. How, I do not know. The first thing I said was, "mother, I really want to stop. I don't want to talk about it just yet..."

      "well I don't see why not..."

      and then, helpful to the end she said, "you'll never do it anyway..."

      I sat at the table after that call, and white-knuckled my way through the next ten minutes. Thanks, ma.

  5. Been several years since I quit. Best thing I ever did.
    I was beginning to seriously struggle with catching my breath and I am convinced it probably would have killed me if I had not stopped.

    1. Yep. I hear that. For anyone who quits there's a point where they hit the bottom of their own addiction. Had a friend who died of emphysema. Someone had to light his cigarettes for him, he was so weak.

      People who know say its an addiction harder to quit than heroin. And I think part of the difficulty used to be public approval if you smoked, and disapproval if you stopped.
      One of those group approval things.

      Funny story. Years before we both quit my husband got some of those fake cigarettes and a tape that you played to hypnotize you into quitting. I kept hearing the voice and being irritated by it, he didn't quit cigarettes, but he hasn't had a cup of coffee since. Can't stand the stuff.