Today is a weird anniversary. It’s excactly one year since I stopped smoking. One year since I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Something I’ve never tried before and I can’t recommend it. I’ve been thinking about what has happened since that scary day.
I was in the middle of cleaning when suddenly I couldn’t breathe. Like.. literally couldn’t breathe and felt like coughing at the same time. I had to sit down and concentate on breathing to get some oxygen inside and it was difficult to push out the carbon dioxide. I was seriously wondering if today was the expiration date. There’s only one way to describe the feeling: it was scary as hell! Halloween has never been a thing here, only a few decorates and go trick or treating but no decoration could have scared me more than the feeling of only being able to get a tiny amount of oxygen into the system. As long as the brain works properly I can honestly say I’ll never forget that day.
Not gonna lie, I thought I was too late quitting smoking (maybe I was, I don’t know). I’d been reducing the amount of cigarettes over a period of time, I’m not good at cold turkey unless I can eat it. I was down to four smokes a day from about twenty, so I felt it was ok. I would get there this time. Of course this day I didn’t smoke. I couldn’t. Simple as that. Still wanted to though. But no.
So.. no need to go into the ride itself with the sound of the siren, the noise from the machines, the confusion at the hospital, the tsunami of questions, x-rays and tests. At one point I felt like a cyborg with all the electrodes and wires everywhere. But everyone was sweet and competent and treated me really nice. And I was lucky enough to get a room for my self. That’s the best part. One of the doctors came and told me the diagnosis and I expected he would say something awful like cancer or something equally nasty. He said copd. Not as nasty but nasty enough if ignored. Bronchitis wich I’ve had for decades had trickered it but obviously smoking hadn’t made it better. Anyway.. I was discharged the next day and what a relief for everyone. Best feeling was that I could walk out of the hospital myself. Mask on due to covid but I had no problem breathing through it if I just walked a little slower and didn’t talk. It’s fine.
When I came home I went online to learn as much as I could and figure out what I could do to improve the situation. I refuse to sit in a chair with an oxygen tank unable to do anything but wait to die. No way! So I exercise not only to improve the overall wellbeing, but also to improve the lung capacity if possible. I eat as healthy as I possibly can but allow myself to cheat from time to time – there has to be a backdoor if things gets to hard, I’ve got other issues and a backdoor is sometimes what makes it possible to succeed anyway. Diet is not strictly necessary, but eating healthy is. I’ve boutht one piece of equipment to help out: the limo. It’s much easier to catch my breath when sitting down and if the weather allows it I go to the store to get some groceries without having to carry them. Pushing the limo uphill is better anyway.
I’m as active as I can – this is where Moxxi comes in. Her most important function is to keep me busy and I must say: she’s damn good at that! 😁 I don’t smoke. I’ve quit. I failed so many times but finally succeded! Today a year ago. The first seven months were a complete nightmare, especially morning and after a meal, but it’s about quit smoking in the mind too, and that takes a lot longer. Up to a year or two. The physical part is over – the brain just needs to catch up. A friend of mine used chewing gum to quit, but what I saw was a person who got completely nasty – right down to the shaky hands – if there was no gum available. So I figured; why swap one addiction with another? I’m biased now. Gum and other things has helped a lot of people and that’s great. All I’m saying is: it’s not for me. I reduced week by week until the bronchitis shouted “too slow!! We won’t work until you get the message, moron!” and the ambulance was a reality. Fortunately it didn’t take a fight to get them to send one. I was lucky..
I don’t smoke. Some ex smokers I’ve seen got all .. I don’t know.. it’s like they wanted to “save” all the smokers around them all of a sudden. They couldn’t care less when they were smokers themselves, go figure. Wether or not they wanted to be “saved” was indifferent to them. Every opportunity they got they would say “stop smoking – it’s bad for you”. I’ve heard countless variations of this. Every one of them equally annoying. It would be much more fun it they told me something I don’t know instead. I wish people could see that telling others what to do and what not to do is treating them like children. It would be ok to say “I’ll stay away as long as you’re smoking”. That’s a fair statement, it’s a personal limit and we’re all allowed to set those. Saying “stop (doing or saying) because (reason)” is just toxic behaviour because it’s attacking, disrespectful and intrusive. At least that’s how I feel it. It actually sometimes have the opposite effect. And what’s it to them anyway – they’re strangers. No one likes to be treated like a child.
I’ve never smoked close to anyone, rarely tossed a cigaret butt in nature but put it in my pocket until I got home. I’ve always tried to show consideration to others around me and if people would have smokers go outside I’ve done so without complaining. Even in my own house I’ve mostly only smoked outside – depending on the weather. I’ve tried my best to be as considered as possible because I think it’s the right thing to do. I don’t deserve being treated this way.
Here’s the thing. Smoking is an addiction. To quit an addiction you have to be ready to do so. Nobody can get you to truly – physically and mentally – stop if you don’t want to. Smokers know this very well. I’ve been met with both ways of approach. The latter is just the usual BS from people think it’s ok to treat others like inferior creatures who need their “guidance”. Those I cut loose from my life. I don’t need an overbearing mum, The choice is mine. For good or bad. The consequence is mine too. I’ve been met with the first approach once. Just once. But it felt so much different. It felt .. good. I was still an equal, still an adult, not put down, not judged for what I did. Just met with a consequence, that’s all. I was way better. It didn’t change anything of course but the feeling of respect for me as a person in spite of my choices was there and that felt nice.
I don’t believe in guilt trips or the blame game but I do believe in taking responsibility and accept the consequences for the bad choices I’ve made. So I do. I won’t forget the past. I can’t change it but I can learn from it and make better choices in the future. I made that promise to my self a year ago. Better late than never I guess. You know what the worst part is? I still want to smoke. Because I like it! It’s that simple. I don’t have to struggle but.. when I see someone enjoying a cigaret I get this.. I don’t know.. “I want it..”. It’s nuts! I know! But it’s the truth. One thing is keeping me from lighting a smoke though. One picture.
When I was released from the hospital, I walked to the main entrance to wait for my ride. Enjoying the air, the ability to breathe properly even with a mask on, looking at people walking to and from the hospital in various states of ability. Just being there and this sounds so corny; I was just happy to be alive. I wanted a smoke to chase the boredom away. My eyes found to elderly patients talking to each other. One on the bench and one in a wheelchair. One with a cigarette in one hand and the mask from the oxygen tank in the other. The other with a cigerette in one hand and the other hand clutched to the arm rest of the bench while trying to cough up a seriously nasty sounding gob of phlegm. Hanging on to the cigarette so it wouldn’t fall to the ground. Try to let this image sink in for a moment.. That’s how difficult quitting is. This is the picture I visualize when I feel like smoking. It’s the only thing that works. Not even the sight of them, but the sound of that phlegm lodged in the lungs and the thick and desperate coughing to try and loosen it. That could be me and I don’t want to be that me! “Just” quit, they say. If these two had wanted to quit and been able to quit, they probably would have quit by now, right?
The winter is a worry for me. It’s not the hassle getting the heat inside from the pallet. I can do that. It takes hours and with and embarrassingly amount of breaks, the limo is crucial for this task, but I can! The influenza is a real danger – covid too so I’ll be wearing a mask all winter in self defence. The dark humor in me would say “If you don’t see a new post on the “quill” after winter, you know why” 😉
I’m not here to “save” anyone. If you want to smoke, then smoke. It’s not my responsibility and I’m not here to meddle. I’m here to make a blog post about my scary halloween a year ago and what happened since. That’s it. What other people do is their business, what I do is mine. I respect other peoples right to choose – even if I don’t agree – but I don’t respect meddlers. I’ve learned to spot a meddler irl and how to avoid them – they have no place in my universe. I’ve got enough trouble as it is. If I need advice I’ll ask for it. That ensures a welcome mat when the advise come. No conflict, no waste of time. Much better for everyone.
So the big question is: don’t I feel a lot better now? More energized and.. happy.. and..? Sadly I don’t. I’d feel a lot worse had I kept smoking I’m sure, but it hasn’t been this “oh dear, why didn’t I quit sooner – I feel great!” kind of feeling. I haven’t “seen the light”, I just did what had to be done. No more, no less. I’m constantly tired from just breathing (and other cronic issues), if I sit down it has to be with a straight back not squeezing the lungs and that hurts because of an old work related back-injury. The gaming chair is a good help though. I never feel completely rested and it’s stressful to have to remember to do certain exercises that – let’s be honest – are almost as exciting as kegel exercises. “But you save a lot of money, right?” Well.. yes and no. Of course I don’t spend money on that habit anymore but I made them my self and that’s a lot cheeper so I’d say it saves about one bag of good quality dog food pr. month. It’s not nothing, but it’s not the big save either. Plus:
There’s a downside to quitting smoking. They just never say anything about that. Things taste and smell different now. Food I liked before tastes horrible now, smells I enjoyed before are overpowering to me now. Other peoples cologne, perfume and the like are hideous as if they took a bath in it. The exhaust from cars send me coughing. Everything feels like an assult on my olfactory system to the point where the sneezing draws tears. It makes perfect sense. Before the senses were dulled by smoke. Now there’s nothing between the smell and me and I smell and taste what it really taste and smells like. It was better before. I didn’t have to wear a mask to keep some of it out, I didn’t have to have cleenex with me everywhere because smells are too harsh now. I won’t smoke but I miss being able to be in the world without an itching nose and teary eyes. (I understand people with hay fever and allergies much better now). Not gonna lie; if I wasn’t diagnosed with copd I probably would have started smoking again by now just to get rid of all this. The only thing I can do is stay away from other people irl. I have to anyway because all covid restrictions are lifted, numbers are rising again (what a coincidence huh?! duh), people think we’re back to normal and because masks and distance aren’t mandatory anymore, they run around and gladly share their bacteria and viruses with everyone they meet and being a very real danger to people like me. Argh! But.. avoiding people irl solves more than one problem I guess and maybe that’s the silver lining..
I’ll go exercise. I found some electro swing and it’s very difficult to sit still. Some times I forget the breathing exercises but I try to do them every day. For the moment I’m creating a groove in the lawn. Remember the laps I told you about some time ago? Well.. 16 laps means 1 km. and that’s my minimum aim every day. I push on and keep walking and on a really good day I reach 4 km. In two sessions. Moxxi’s favourite season is now and she’s is very busy chasing mice so she’s not available until I’m done and then we’ll go for a walk together. She’s getting really good at staying with the limo and she knows that when we reach the beach she’s allowed to move away from me if she like. Heavy lifting and other tough jobs are over for good. Helping others is reduced to “depending on what it is”, but I do my best. I need help sometimes too, I’m working on accepting that. Sometimes it takes a health scare to get your head on straight, that’s not rocket science and I’m not the first or the last. As I said; the physical thing has been over for a year. The head apparantly still isn’t ready to let go so I’ll continue fighting it. So.. for good or bad.. I’m still here.. 😉
Have a great day..
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