If I Can Quit, Anyone Can

In June I developed a sore on my left forearm which eventually turned into what doctors called cellulitis. After a few days drinking some oral antibiotics which weren’t working, doctor said, “I’m putting you in the hospital and giving you the good stuff,” meaning the heavy-duty antibiotics via IV. On the second day doctor brought in another surgeon who I remember saying, “we’ve got to go a bit deeper.” That turned out to him making a ditch on my arm about 2-1/2 inches long and ½ inch wide. Have no idea how deep, but on a 1-10 pain scale, I graded that a 25.
Same second day, doctors asked me if I’d like to go on Chantix. I said no, as I’ve been a smoker for more than 60 years and had no notion of stopping now. Later that night, in between nurses taking my vitals every 20 minutes or so, I began to think more about it. Since I’ve been smoking my entire teenage and adult life, I really don’t know what it’s like “on the other side.” I started to wonder what it’d be like to eat a big meal and not have to finish it off with a cigarette. Since I have a bit of COPD, wonder how my breathing would be after non-smoking for a while. So, I said, okay, give me the Chantix, not knowing just how long I’d go without smoking.
I took the Chantix for a few days when I got home from the hospital, but thought it was upsetting my stomach a bit. I had already decided in my head that if I was going to “the other side,” it would have to be for some time, not just a few days. So, I quit the Chantix and went “cold turkey.” Several times when watching tv I’d reach over for a drag. But there wasn’t anything there, not even an ashtray, and I just said to myself, “Oh, I don’t do that anymore.”
So, here on January 3, June 28 was my last cigarette. Wife Carol joined me in this a couple of weeks later. We’ve had to re-learn a few things, like having a cup of coffee WITHOUT a cigarette.  Or going to a casino and sitting by smokers. Or watching people on tv light up. One of our favorite programs is Perry Mason on MeTV. Seems like Perry and Paul Drake and most every other character on almost every episode were smokers.
But it is amazing how little we get the urge. Every once in a while I think about lighting up, but it’s not that strong and I use the “Oh, I don’t do that anymore,” and go on with whatever I’m doing.
It really is hard to describe just how shocked I am at how this has gone. I began smoking when I was 13 because it was the “cool” thing to do. All my buds smoked and we could buy our Lucky Strikes at Chris’ Newsstand for a dime. We’d leave them overnight under the World War II monument in the city park. Next day after school we’d retrieve them, hoping the overnight rain missed our pack. We grew up with cigarette advertising on television and radio. It wasn’t until 1970 that Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, banning the advertising of cigarettes on radio and television, starting on January 2, 1971. During my time in the Air Force, I hardly remember any of my friends who were not smokers. I was a purchasing specialist and could smoke at my desk. After discharge I worked for a large company in San Francisco and again, could smoke at my desk. Just like the song, Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette), written by Merle Travis and Tex Williams and recorded by Williams in 1947:         
Smoke smoke smoke that cigarette
Puff puff puff
And if you smoke yourself to death
Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait
But you just gotta have another cigarette
we just Had to have another cigarette. I’ve never been into marijuana or anything harder, but I think addiction to nicotine is one very powerful addiction.                
No, I’m not going on a non-smoking rampage. It’s still a personal decision and I still respect smokers. Been there, done that.  Not sure when I’ll actually be “on the other side,” but each day I get that much closer.