Wednesday, August 17, 2005

When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Amazing for me to realize that today/tonite (August 16/17) marks the 13th anniversary of my quitting smoking.

I smoked for a grand total of aproximately 15 years, the majority of them (don't recall exactly how long) downing 2 packs a day. Marlboro was my staple brand by I managed to suck down a wide variety of brands over the years.

On August 16th 1992, just before midnight, I logged off my 'puter (an IBM PS/1 if anyone recalls that lousy idea) and put out my last cigarette of a pack. I figured I'd step outside for some air, look at the stars, see what was going on in the parking lot of my complex before toddling off to bed. I normally carry my inhaler (I'm asthmatic..yes I know how stupid it is to have a major lung problem and put away 2 packs/day.) which at the time was either Primatene or Broncaid Mist but this time I left it on my bed, figuring I'd only be outside for a moment and I wasn't having any major problems that night. While out in the parking lot, I started to feel a bit wheezy so I decided to head in the apt. a few yards away and grab my inhaler.

Now, normally my asthmatic attacks were of the slow type that just got worse as time went on; not the "WHAM! ZAP! Outta the blue, you can't breathe" types, but this time SURPRIZE! By the time I got to my bed a few seconds later, I couldn't breathe at all. My lungs literally seized up. I couldn't move them at all. No inhaling, no exhaling. I sat on the edge of my bed completely unable to breathe and unable to do a danged thing. My roomie had moved back to Ohio a few weeks before and I had just gotten back from England so there was no one there to freak out in front of so they could call 911. My neighbors were either out or asleep and at that time the 911 system out here didn't have that automated locator situation set up so if I called, there was no way to tell the operator where I was. I sat there seriously thinking i was actually done for; that this was how I was going to die. Big fun!

Luckily, a moment or two later, my lungs "deseized" but it was an immediate segue into still having some sort of major lung problem (it was diagnosed a month and 5 doctors later as major inflamation of both lungs. Why the first 4 doctors, knowing I smoked and had asthma, never thought of inflamation is beyond me. The asshole putzes! Which only reinforced the notion that doctors can easily fuck up and misdiagnose.) Now where was I...oh, yes! Anyway, I figured I'd just give my lungs a rest for the night and just light up the next day. (Ah, the mentality of an addict!)

Fast forward nearly 24 hours and no cigarettes later, I was lying in my bed and realized that I hadn't had a cigarette in 24 hours, I was still alive,I hadn't killed anyone, I wasn't in jail or a padded room at the local looney bin, my apartment was still standing, my cat wasn't filing for the pet version of a divorce, and my lungs were still fucked up so, I decided then and there to take the hint and officially quit cold turkey.

13 years later I'm still here, still occasionally find myself gazing longingly at the cigarette shelves at the supermarket or convenience store (until I see the price!), and still on occasion take a quick whiff of a pack but that's it.

Now, to see if my cable modem is back online...