I was going to start by saying that none of us choose to be unhealthy. But I guess by the choices we make, some of us do. I don’t think I stopped for a second and thought ‘do I choose current and future health or to suffer from the current and long term effects of this?’ However, they were still choices I made. Having known the risks for so long now, it can’t be anything else!
I had my first choke on a cigarette when I was 8. It wasn’t enjoyable. At that age I had the brains and the peer support to not do that again. But then came adolescence. The brains went, and I persisted with the choking and spluttering until I was smoking. There was no peer pressure – some of the boys smoked but none of the girls in my group did.
My health wasn’t something I considered when I was younger. I guess I’ve always had it, so didn’t respect its value. I’ve had a head in the sand belief that I’ll always be okay. Despite signs showing the contrary. I advocate going to the doctor asap. Don’t let things get worse. Yet it took me four months to have a chest x-ray done. And this persistent cough was probably around for that long before I got the referral. But better late than never, x-ray – tick.
Results in, the medical centre called to make an appointment, nothing urgent. Nothing urgent. What a relief! So I decided my cough was nothing and I was healthy. It was two weeks before I went in.
Because of the frame of mind I had previously put myself in, the diagnosis really shocked me! My doctor read out the specialists letter and explained what it meant. Stage 1 COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), emphysema. Emphysema is a frightening word – its meaning even more so. To further motivate me to quit smoking, he showed me the x-rays. My lungs were transparent which they shouldn’t be. That means the lung walls are damaged and very thin. The diaphragm is meant to be curved, which helps expel air from the lungs. Under my left lung it was flat. Under my right it was close to it.
The tears were rolling down my cheeks the whole time and I’d been given the box of tissues. Granted I was running on 4 hours sleep and had been at the police station prior after a sickening event the night before. But still, I knew something wasn’t right, and I’ve had people telling me for ages to stop smoking. My pharmacist has even given me nicotine patches for free, but I’ve chosen to keep up the habit. So crying like a two year old who’s just realised they rooly trooly can’t have everything they want, just doesn’t fly. After 33 years of filling my lungs toxic chemicals, this news shouldn’t have been surprising. Time to put my big girl britches on, think about how much I actually like breathing, and stop fucking smoking!
Now that I have a health issue that affects a vital organ, it makes the decision to choose health over habit very easy. If only ceasing that habit was just as easy! The patches are in use and I have a script for Champix. It’s not just about the nicotine addiction – as I’m using patches, that’s the breezy part of it for me. All the other reasons I smoke is what I’m struggling with. But as long as I’m persistent in creating other “go to’s” I know I can kick it.
What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself – Abraham Maslow