September 15, 2009

Smoking Cessation

I started smoking cigarettes at age 15. Why? I don’t know, but I can still remember the very first time I smoked.

It was a cold and snowy day in DuBois Pennsylvania, a quiet town full of nothing but banks and car washes. There were about six or seven of us girls, I can’t be sure, who had decided to go to the local ski lodge for some sled riding.

Somehow, during our innocent snow filled fun, the topic of smoking cigarettes had arisen. None of us had ever tried it, but we were all curious. Going to the bathroom, we discovered a cigarette machine. We debated and planned, chickened out, changed our minds about thirty more times, then came up with our plan.

Taking turns, we tried to conspicuously drop a quarter in the cigarette machine on our way to the bathroom. After we had deposited enough money, we fought over who was going to pull the ominous lever. The whole ordeal took about a half an hour. Finally, my one friend, who was always braver than the rest of us, angrily pushed past us and got the contraband. Though we had tried not to draw attention to ourselves up to this point, we all screamed and ran out of the lodge when the cigarettes hit her hand. Teenage girls.

We ran outside and hastily opened the pack. After we each had a cigarette in our hands, we realized we had no means as to light them.

“Hey, there were candles on the tables in there.” someone suggested pointing back to the lodge.

“Who’s going to go in there and light it?” asked another.

“Ugh! Just give it to me.” sighed my brave friend who had pulled the lever.

She went back inside, cigarette in hand, as we all waited nervously. A few seconds later she burst through the door.

“I did it!” she exclaimed as she put it in her mouth and took a drag. She exhaled and smoke emerged from her lips. We all decided to put our cigarettes back in the pack and just share one. The group of us took turns hitting it, feeling pretty cool. I remember it didn’t feel much like anything. I couldn’t believe it didn’t hurt like my elders had told me.

Ten minutes later we were still smoking the same cigarette. My one friend said, “Something’s not right. Why isn’t it going down?”

We examined the square and realized it wasn’t lit. The smoke we saw leaving our mouths had been our own breath, visible from the extreme cold. Realizing how incredibly stupid we were, we shared a laugh until it hurt.

“I’ll try again.” my friend said, disappearing back into the lodge.

I knew it was really lit this time, because she flung open the door coughing in a cloud of smoke.

“Here.” she choked, holding the cigarette out.

We were a little reluctant to take it, but eventually, we each took a turn, coughing our lungs out. It did hurt! It hadn’t all been a lie.

It was gone after everyone had two turns. None of us were sad to see it go. It left us light headed and nauseous. It’s amazing any of us ever tried it again, but we did.

A few months later I started to smoke on a regular basis.

Lesson 11: smoking at age 15 = white trash

I smoked for years despite my parents pleas. I didn’t stop until I got pregnant with Marky at age 19. Unfortunately, when he turned 1 I started again. Then, I quit when I found out I was pregnant with Jagger, but he was a colicky baby, and I was left alone most of the time, so I started smoking again. I thought to myself jokingly, “Maybe when I get pregnant with the next one.”

Jet came along and the smell of cigarettes made me sick. That was when I quit smoking for good.
I was lucky. Adam hasn’t had such an easy time. He started to smoke at age 12!

Lesson 12: smoking at age 12 SERIOUSLY= white trash

He’s made small steps over the years. It about killed him to not smoke in the house, but when we started having kids he began smoking outside. Another thing that proved to be a challenge for him was not smoking in the car. There are times, on long road trips with the kids, where he has to pull over at a rest stop and light up, but it has gotten considerably better.

He’s tried for years to quit all together, but he has never been quite ready. After Jovie was born he promised her he was going to quit. He was finally sick of smoking. He talked to his doctor and got a prescription that was supposed to help him in this seemingly impossible task.

To my dismay, the medicine cost over a hundred dollars, but I thought of all the money we’d be saving when he didn’t smoke, and it seemed worth it. Then I was infuriated when it sat on top of the cupboard for months. He was scared to take it after reading the side effects. (I personally thought he had changed his mind about quitting.)

Luckily, my best friend from childhood came for a visit about a month ago. She just happens to be a doctor. Not only has she prescribed it herself, but her mom had just quit smoking with it after having the habit for decades. Adam couldn’t put it off any longer.

He’s been taking the medicine for a week now. The first couple of nights he had a hard time sleeping. (Side effects included insomnia and weird dreams.) Adam has always been a sleep talker and walker and that gave me some concern, especially after the first night. I woke up to him pacing at the foot of the bed, flailing his arms, and yelling at fellow employees who weren’t there. (When he talks in his sleep, it’s always about work.)

“Oh no.” I thought to myself. I had visions of him going downstairs and thinking he had to butcher meat. So, the next day I hid all his knives. I put them in a place I thought he would never look.

The next night, there was more chef talk. He left the bedroom at one point telling some employee, “Wait a second. I’ll go check on it.”

I laughed to myself, and felt safe knowing the knives were in a secure place.

The next night was Friday, and Adam had to work late. I was already in bed when he came home. Waking me up as he crawled into bed, I said, “hi” and gave him a quick groggy kiss.

Knowing I was awake, he asked, “Why are all the knives in the washer?”

He had found my hiding place when he went to wash his chef uniforms. I can only imagine what he thought upon opening the lid to find every knife, along with our kitchen counter knife block, hanging out in the washer.

Lesson 13: knives in the washing machine to protect your loved one from chopping off his arm in his sleep = white trash

Don't worry, I’ve hidden them in a different place. So, if you get a minute, say a little prayer that Adam will finally be able to kick the habit. He needs all the help he can get. If you have extra time on top of that, say another one that he doesn’t find the knives! His limbs depend on it!!

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