I was just remembering back many long years ago to when my father died. You see, he died of complications to throat cancer due to smoking. I remember when they first did surgery on his throat to try to remove the large tumor that was lodged there. He smoked right up to the moment he entered the hospital. I remember the look he gave that last cigarette of his as he flicked it almost violently away from him.
He was angry and confused and wondering what the rest of his life was going to look like. I have to mention here that the rest of this story isn’t pretty but it is one that needs to be told. All of us three kids and his wife waited for the surgery to be over. It took several hours and I remember constantly going outside to smoke cigarettes, never even thinking of what those things were doing to me, but us kids believed that they were keeping us as calm as we could be.
When the surgery was over and we saw him for the first time, it was heart wrenching. Half of his face was gone! His throat looked thin and there were huge bandages all over his neck. He was hooked up to the thousand things that people are always hooked up to when this type of surgery takes place.
I ended up spending a few weeks with him in the hospital. His wound was infected and needed drainage all of the time. I never left his side during this part of his recovery. I remember when the surgeon walked in to check him out and he saw the cigarettes in my pocket. He screamed, “What the hell is the matter with you!” Pointing to the cigarettes in my pocket he said, “You do realize that these are what did this to your father don’t you?!”
I just stood there staring at him for a moment before leaving the room until he was finished with my father. I actually went down and had a cigarette to be honest.
In the end, he did get out of the hospital, however he could barely talk because they had to remove part of his tongue and he couldn’t eat except through a tube because they had to remove a flap that normally holds things out of the lungs when one eats or drinks.
But he got along. All he wanted was time to teach his wife, (my stepmother), how to survive without him. To make a long story short, he survived a year before the cancer entered his liver. We finished the last couple of months with him in hospice.
What amazed me was that even after all of this happening, I continued smoking. My addiction was incredibly strong. I eventually did manage to quit for about a year but relapsed after the loss of my first wife. (Not a valid excuse, I know).
I continued smoking for several more years before I reached my final quit. But I guess my point with this blog is to first show what can happen when we keep smoking and second to show just how strong the addiction can be. Looking back, it amazes me that I didn’t even think about quitting while my father was dying. Even during the hospice care time, we’d go out on the back patio and smoke constantly.
That’s how strong my addiction really was and I know that if I can quit, any of you can!
Thinking back, I remember the lies I would tell myself. That after my experiences, I deserved smoking. That bad things only happened to other people. That my addiction was different than everyone else’s. And so I gave power to my addiction, never even giving the future a second thought and eventually, the thought of quitting never entered my mind until the day that it finally did.
Six years ago I finally put those things down once and for all. About a year ago I was diagnosed with mild COPD. Was I upset about it? Not really for you see I had almost five years of freedom with no ill effects because I quit when I did.
Secondly, I can’t even imagine how bad my COPD would be right now had I not decided to quit. So there’s that. And then of course my favorite thing to talk about. You know, the peace and freedom that comes from quitting. The ability to be proud of what I did and forgive myself my past mistakes.
Am I sorry I didn’t quit sooner? Of course I am but again, I have forgiven myself for my past and now just look to the future. You know. The one that’s so bright! The one that’s so free!
We must forgive our past before we can move onto the future. We cannot change our past but we can certainly change our futures. What we do in the present determines what our lives will look like in the future. And what I did six years ago when I quit proves to me that everything I thought would happen did.
My future really is much brighter than it could’ve been. I’m way healthier than I would have been had I decided to keep smoking. And yes, the freedom and beauty of this new world that I live in because of what I chose to do six years ago is amazing! Never give up. It’s just not worth it. Follow your heart and not your addiction and soon you too will be on the other side looking back.
If I can do this then so can you! Go for it! There really is so much waiting for you! It’s your life and future that we’re talking about. Get on that horse and ride into freedom!!! You deserve it!!
ONWARD TO FREEDOM!!!