A Thousand Aren’t Enough…
I’ve been a professional smoker for 28 years. I loved the smell and the taste of it. I had my coffee while reading the paper and having a cigarette after each meal.
I remember when I was eight years old, my mother smoked at the time and she left a lit cigarette in the ashtray when she walked out of the room. I quickly picked up the burning cigarette and took a puff. Right away I loved the smell of it, the taste of it…
Here is my story:
Back in the day, Newsweek magazine had an article on different brands of cigarettes, the ingredients of each ciga-rette and how many milligrams were in each cigarette. I diligently researched for the lightest cigarette possible be-cause I wanted to practice inhaling smoke down to my lungs so I wouldn’t look like a total moron, hacking and coughing up smoke in front of my new high school friends.
It was the summer of ‘79. I walked to the neighborhood store and bought a pack of the lightest cigarette. I ran back to my house, shuffled under the porch and lit up with my heart pounding through my chest. I knew I was doing something really bad, but man, it felt good.
I inhaled slowly and deeply, and I was hooked after that. I practiced and prac-ticed with my smoking, then switched to the “in” brand that everyone else was smoking at the time. I believe they were 75 cents a pack back then.
I snuck a cigarette every chance I could get. Walking the dog alone, out my bed-room window, under my porch, in the woods…just to have a taste of that ciga-rette. By the time I was 16 years old, I was hooked.
One day while reading the paper, I saw this little advertisement for Nicotine Anonymous. It said there was a meeting at this hospital in South Jersey on Thursday night, so I went. I parked out-side of the hospital and smoked a ciga-rette. I then said to myself, “These peo-ple are going to know that I smoked because they will smell it on me,” so I didn’t go in - I left.
I always had Nicotine Anonymous tucked far back in my mind, and stored it there for a few more years, smoking all the while.
In the meantime, I went to nursing school, graduated and worked at my first hospital in South Jersey. Part of being a nurse is giving patient education before the patient goes home. For my patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder), I had to patient educate them on the reasons for quit-ting smoking, while I had the stench of smoke all over my clothes. I felt like a hypocrite...
In ‘07, the hospital I worked for was no longer going to permit smoking on cam-pus. The end date was set for the Great American Smokeout Day, the 3rd Thurs-day of November. At the time, my health insurance covered the smoking cessation medicine, and I really wanted to quit smoking. I had many failed at-tempts, but was really determined to put all my steps in place. I asked my Higher Power, whom I will call God, to help me stop smoking. I started taking the medicine, which really helped me.
I had my last cigarette at 11:55 PM on 11/13/07 and I consider my quit date as 11/14/07. That day I wanted to keep busy, so I worked overtime at the hospi-tal, and it really wasn’t bad… I just real-ly needed to stay away from my trig-gers, like coffee and anything that was spicy.
I quit on a Tuesday and went to my first NicA meeting on a Friday. I heard my favorite slogan of all time: “One ciga-rette is too many and a thousand are not enough.” That motto really hit home for me.
It’s been 9 years since I put down those bad boys. I’d be lying to say I don’t miss smoking, but as a nurse who’s seen people with COPD and SOB (Shortness of Breath) lugging around an oxygen tank, I say “No thank you! I’ve had enough…”
Maria S Pennington, NJ