I just drove past the company smoking lounge on the way back from lunch and realized, for the first time, how stupid people look standing out there on the side of the building in an almost perfect circle, like there are some imaginary lines drawn on the parking lot in 103 degree weather (or 9 degree in the middle of Winter) puffing away on those expensive little suckers (do you realize one cigarette costs over 20 cents now?) like it is the last one they will ever be able to smoke.
I can say this, only because as little as nine months ago, I was one of those people standing under that large plume of smoke, out there, getting my nicotine fix thinking mainly about when I was going to get to sneak out for another one. That was until 258 days ago when I found a way to quit smoking overnight!
I had tried just about everything there is to help an individual quit: the gum, the patch, the ear thing, hypnosis, pills and cold turkey. Each had different levels of success (or failure) but the final results were the same. I was still out in the smoking lounge a day or week or month later.
It's not as if I didn't have any motivation to quit. I tried when I met my wife (she hated it but was very understanding) and before our Son was born because I didn't want him growing up in that type of environment. Each time, though, I started up again and blamed it on the stress and pressure of everyday life...
Until the early morning hours of November 28, 2007. I woke a little after midnight to go to the bathroom. I felt as if my leg was asleep, did my business and went back to bed. Again, at 3:30 I got up to pee, but this time my right leg wouldn't hold me up and I fell to the ground waking my wife. I knew that this was serious as it wasn't just my leg, but my arm and the right side of my face as well. As my wife got the herself and the baby ready to get me to the hospital, I went out to the garage to have, what I somehow knew, was my last smoke.
In the emergency room, just before they told me that I had suffered a stroke, I relinquished my two-thirds full pack of Marlboro Ultra Lights to my wife to be disposed of. That was it. I quit just like that. It took a major brain injury, but I will never pick up another cigarette again.
And it was really, kind of simple. The doctors offered me all kinds of aids to help with the withdrawal but, because I was putting so much effort into my recovery, which was not at all simple, I hardly noticed any. If I did, it certainly wasn't as painful or hard as the physical rehabilitation.
I feel very blessed that I have made it back close to a 100% in the last eight months. It took a lot of time and hard work, not to mention a whole team of doctors and therapists, but we made it through with, what we can only call, a remarkable recovery.
Besides me kicking the habit, there was some other good results that came from my brain attack. I have a new outlook on life and am trying to spread the word about how precious each moment is and how to keep your priorities straight; some of my fat friends have gone on diets and are exercising; and maybe the biggest impact has been that several people at work and my "I'll smoke 'til I can't breath on my own" sister have also quit the nasty habit (although she got her nose pierced as "a reward" for herself... but that's another story).
You know, my brother smoked for many years until a doctor told him there was a spot on a routine chest X-ray. He quit overnight, before they had a chance to tell him that it was nothing to worry about. Thank God.
It seems like there is something to say about being "scared to death" or "scared of dying" to clean up a person's act. It's a shame that doctors can't say, "You will die if you don't change" and have people believe them, but I guess that wouldn't go along with their ethics and stuff.
Too bad... it may be the best smoking cessation ever!
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