Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Two part post warning. I really tried to condense it into one but when I unblock, I unblock. So sorry.

I grew up in a smoking family. Both parents plus my one brother who was 10 years older than I, also smoked. My mother was a severe asthmatic, yet she continued to smoke till the end. Therefore, it was just a matter of getting old enough for me to start. It was a family tradition.

When I was a senior in high school, I asked my Dad if I could smoke. His answer was, "If you can afford it, go for it." So I gave up eating lunch and with my allowance and lunch money, I started my addiction. For you non-smokers, when you first start, you get quite high. That is what makes you take the next one and the one after that. By the time the "highs" go away, you are hooked. Pretty much like any drug.

I progressed with my addiction till I had a 2 1/2 pack a day habit in my mid twenties. This was not easy to do as I was not allowed to smoke at any job I had. That meant chain smoking was necessary during allowed time, to get in my quota. In those days we were told the worst that could happen to you if you smoked was that it could "stunt your growth." Well I was stunted before I started so that was not a big concern. In fact, I grew the most my senior year while I was smoking. Go figure.

When I was in my thirties, I was dating a guy that didn't smoke. Actually he was a rarity, most people I knew did smoke. My ex husband, all my dates and most of my friends did. This fellow had the courage to tell me that my breath was far from "kissable" and he really wanted me to quit. I was a bit stunned for one of the beauties of smoking is that you can't smell or taste much of anything. No one wants stinking breath,so I tried to quit and was shocked. I shook, sweat and snarled like a junkie as I tried to withdraw. I could not do it.

For the next 4 years, I tried off and on to quit, never making it much past 24 hours. I hated my weakness. For someone who prided themselves with being in control, I realized I wasn't. Then I got lucky, I almost died.

I had been having really bad sporadic stomach aches for a long time. Three doctors diagnosed me as having ulcers so I drank milk, ate a bland diet and consumed a ton of Maalox. For ten years I suffered with no real relief, the attacks still came. I was hospitalized twice but still the painful belly. Finally the same Doctor who had originally diagnosed me with ulcers, decided to check for gallstones. Surprise, that had been my problem all along, I had been passing gall stones for years.

By now, I was down to 105 pounds for I could only eat Jell-O without pain. Surgery was scheduled and I was thrilled that finally my problem would be fixed. When I awoke from surgery I was in a bunch of pain when a shot of Demoral found my behind. Off I floated. I kind of drifted in and out of consciousness for a couple of days. Every 4 hours the Demoral came to visit. For three hours I would sleep and for one hours while waiting for the shot, I was in pain.

One day when I was awaiting my shot, I asked the nurse with the needle if I had smoked a cigarette (Smoking in the hospital was allowed in those days.) She said that my ashtray was unused, so probably not. Good time to quit I thought as the shot of Demoral found its mark. This was the beginning of a long , bumpy ride..........


  1. I quit, cold-turkey, after 23 years of 2-3 packs per day. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I'd rather have a baby without anesthesia.

    Looking forward to the next part.

  2. My 73+ yr old husband should read this but he won't. He has tried everything.

    However, my food compulsive habits closely relate to his "gotta have a cigt" so I am somewhat sympathetic.

    Either way addiction is a personal "gotta wanna" war between the deceptive call of the "drug" and the addict.

  3. Glad your writer's block came unblocked. Well told-story. I'll be looking for part two.

    I've read somewhere that physical addiction to nicotine is harder to overcome than an addiction to heroin or cocaine.

    My mama was not a smoker, but she was addicted to caffeine and would suffer terrible migraine-like headaches and nausea if she didn't have her coffee.

  4. Smokers galore in my family, including me. Luckily I was never what I would consider a heavy smoker (pack+ per day). I quit many times, but the last time was the hardest. It's been about 10 years.

    Recently I joked that I might run a 5k race with a lit cigarette in my hand just to show the absurdity of smoking, but then worried I might take a drag...

  5. Ah, please hurry up with the rest of the story. I've been fighting this battle, and losing for quite some time. My hat is off to those stronger than any addiction.

  6. kenju,
    I don't wear a hat but if I did, I't tip it to you. I am so amazed when people go cold turkey. If we have a battle, I want you on my side. Great comparison to full pain childbirth. You can be proud.

    It is so sad when those we love continue to hurt themselves. I totally love your descriptin of addition. Perfect. Now,if I could just give up food.

    Think you are probably right on the degree of difficulty in quiting. It is hard for those who have never been addicted to understand those who are. Caffeine can be hard to quit also and has unpleasant side affects.

    Love the image but like you, I would fear taking that first puff just for the heck of it or by reflex. Way to go quiting and staying with it.

    Wow, I sure have been there and it is maddening. For 4 years I fought and lost. All I can say is keep trying. I was always optimistic enought to think, "this time I will do it." Someday, it will click into place, just keep trying.Mine was almost all luck and no will power.I just took advantage of a great opportunity. Wishing you the best of luck.

  7. That's good advice. I'm glad as a childhood asthmatic that I never started.

  8. Robert,
    Very smart move. I know it caused my mother's early death and made her life one long struggle to breathe.